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April 24, 2014

Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On Purchasing comiXology

The retailer and direct market industry advocate Brian Hibbs wrote a piece about the purchase of comiXology that bears reading, like the vast majority of what Brian pens. It isn't dismissive or backwards-sounding; although there are critical elements. I think there are reasons to remain skeptical about that partnership for the long term; that hesitation on the very fundamental part of the deal where more of the publishing industry gets placed into Amazon's hands, that's something that came up when I talked to publishers, even publishers super-enthusiastic about the acquisition. Just as it's wrong to automatically assume an independent virtue of keeping the old system for the sake of the old system, so is it misguided to make a virtue out of abstract principles over how the companies and creators benefit.

I do find some of Hibbs's broader assertions curious, particuarly when they depend on idealized elements of the market. There are some great comics shops out there that carry a sizable array of comics and can direct people to work and build readers; there are also shops that don't even carry the "weirder" Marvel/DC books. There are about 20 cities in all of the US where I'll send someone I know to a comics shop rather than when they're looking for a specific trade or even shopping for a general kind of comic, at least without massive qualification.

I think the comparison of this to Diamond's exclusive-driven dominance of the direct market back in the 1990s is reasonably apt, particularly in terms of how that deal developed: it turns out that was not armageddon, but you could argue that was a massive blow, particularly in the broad potential of that market not reaching its potential in certain ways, even to the limited extent they used to. One hopes for the best outcome here as well, and I think the way this deal went down means that there's a greater chance people will be pushing the business in that direction.
posted 1:55 am PST | Permalink

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