July 24, 2014
ComiXology Announces DRM-Free Backup Feature At Their Thursday Comic-Con International Panel
During their panel today at Comic-Con International in San Diego, the digital comics platform comiXology announced a DRM-free backup feature that in their words "allows customers to download and store copies of their books." They have also announced their first run of participating publishers, which as soon I can get my fat ass over to the panel from my one-thirty meeting will safely slide into the place this sentence goes.
This isn't an area about which I know a ton, but my reading of this issue in the past was that the use of DRM by comiXology was key to their getting certain publishers to climb on board, but came at the price of open criticism and some customer loss from those that believe that having a copy of the work they wanted to view was infinitely preferable -- or at least preferable to the point of their deciding to participate -- than DRM protected media, which is often compared to buying a right to see something rather than the actual something. This leads to difficulties when a newer service shuts down, perhaps, and also can interfere with certain kind of transfer of material between devices.
I would also imagine that there might have been a slight hiccup in that for some people in the company, some folks using it and/or a few professionals assessing it, the Guided View reading technology could be characterized as the company's unique contribution. That will still be available, of course, but different formats might encourage different viewing options and at least strategically it's understandable you might check the direction of all oars, particularly early on.
Backups for existing copies are available through the "My Books" section starting today. The backups will be high-definition PDF and CBZ. I will be downloading a bunch for my comiXology books myself. I will also be consider some bigger purchases there -- I think I had been basically buying, if only subconsciously, books I wouldn't mind losing.
I think this is significant news for one of comics' major players.
Initial participating publishers announced at the panel were Image, Zenescope, Thrillbent, Top Shelf, Dynamite and Monkeybrain.
I talked to a top five publisher and a top ten publisher who will participate and are behind the move, but could not do what was necessary administration-wise to be part of the initial announcement because of Comic-Con ramp up. That does make me think the final stages of this may have come pretty quickly.
Others I've talked to since penning the above piece disagree with my last statement, thinking that it's a publicity-driven statement more than one that will have any real effect. I would it's hard to measure something like that -- certainly if your reluctance in using that service was the DRM-free aspect, this diminishes the potential for that effect, and that's indeed more of a PR effect rather than one that moves needles. But you know, comiXology exists in that space, too, now, and could use a positive story of a certain kind post-Amazon. I would also imagine that any practical improvements -- such as the improved ability to move comics device to device -- also might play out differently as consumption habits develop.
The panel included a strong emphasis on the Submit self-publishing program, including their ongoing sale of material using that program and stories of publisher picking up specific properties after they were published there.
According to Chip Mosher after the panel, comiXology didn't lose anyone after the move to Amazon. I had heard a rumor of a 1-2 publishers maybe bailing, a rumor Mosher shot down pretty quickly.
Top Shelf was added to the list of initially participating companies. My apologies for the omission.
posted 1:30 pm PST
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