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April 30, 2014

A Few, Brief Links To Articles About comiXology's In-App Moves

I am late in blogging about what is likely the story of the week: reaction to the first major move that comiXology has made post purchase, namely cut some third parties out of a percentage of sales made through devices by rerouting how those sales are made, bringing themselves more in line, at least broadly, with existing Amazon strategy with their kindle. I thought this column was the best of the shorter ones I've seen as far getting both the basic strokes in it and running a statement from Chip Mosher that provides insight as to their point of view regarding the moves.

imageI think the reason why I haven't said a whole lot is that I'm not sure there's as much clash here as that we're seeing an expected, inevitable move -- there was going to be something -- followed by the expression of a dissenting view as to whether this represented a maximal outcome. That said, I think that industry veteran Gerry Conway's general line of inquiry here -- that this might cut into the promise of comiXology as a high-end, pure impulse buy mechanism -- is totally fair. Yeah, it might. We'll see how the numbers eventually break. But if Conway ends up being very wrong, I still think that's an idea worth putting out there. Conway has offered up a cultural value for comiXology within the community rather than basing his argument on backseat driving the company to perceived greater profits -- I think that changes the conversation for the better. One thing we do know is that any argument made on-line where part of that argument exists in the realm of future possibility, that argument can be dickered away -- and we're seeing that. How important is it that the primary avenue to digital comics play that role? It could definitely be debated, as there are scenarios whereby reach can be sacrificed for immediate profit, or greater profit, or a better percentages of same to certain players.

The writer and digital publisher Mark Waid reinvingorates some of Conway's arguments here. Waid suggests there might be a longer game involved but underlines what he sees as the importance of the short term in persuasive fashion. Waid and Conway together are enough to drive a stand-alone feature or two. Augie De Blieck Jr. suggests that Apple isn't necessarily a villain for the set-up they had, and reminds that that partnership was fruitful for comiXology at various stages in their development to date.

A couple more articles suggested to me: this piece at CBR about company-owned apps partnering with comiXology still allowing for this option, plus a Mosher interview; this summary piece at Multiversity, which I haven't read yet.

Two cautionary points. One is I'm not all the way sure that anyone in comics is getting the math right, even in casual usage. If nothing else, I believe a lot of the publisher deals are negotiated separately and are different than the more public Submit deal which folks are using as a starting point. But it seems like there are some wild divergences out there. This article by Moisés Chiullan seems the best overall in breaking down some of the basic numbers in play, and how they plug into decision-making. He also gets a straight-up yes from comiXology's Chip Mosher that independent creators should benefit by purchasing through web site as opposed to the way of purchasing it through the app. In fact, if you can only read one article, read the Chiullan article. The other cautionary point is that there may be a tendency to use general appraisals of things we're seeing on-line as indicative of the way the hard data will break, and that's never necessarily true. The good thing is we'll see.

I think Rob Salkowitz's piece here is a reasonably rational one with its wait-and-see and good partnership arguments. He takes a negative view of both the size of Apple's cut and the control it exerted as a result, which is good to read in contrast to De Blieck's view. Salkowitz's piece turns somewhat dire consequences-wise when he suggests that Amazon is going to take a specific interest in using the comics purchases to drive merchandise to you in a way on which a physical store location has had a sort-of monopoly. I'm not sure the latter is 100 percent sure, I love comics shops but I haven't bought anything other than a serial comic book at once for almost a decade now. I'm sure it will be a factor, though. It's certainly worth noting the potential irony that comic book stores -- whose initial conceptualization in the ideas marketplace was as "places that had all of the comics" may eventually feel the impact of a retailing giant that can better do this right now.
posted 2:25 am PST | Permalink

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