As C2E2 was keeping the world busy with goofy Marvel Comics announcements this weekend, Amazon quietly used their newly purchased comiXology digital comics app to attack rivals Apple and Google by removing the ability to make in app purchases on iOS devices and eliminating Google Payments as a payment method on the Android app. The move prevents Apple and Google from taking cuts of comic sales, and presumably makes their own Kindle platform more attractive to readers. It also makes it more difficult for readers to purchase new books, as they'll now need to leave the app to purchase comics in a web browser directly from comiXology before heading back to the app to sync and read them. The app quickly fell in ratings, from a five star app on Apple's market to 1.5 stars as comic fans pissed off at being used as pawns in a silicon valley 1%er pissing war spoke out about the changes. The company tried to act like this was no big deal in a semi-hostile interview with ComicBookResources, but that hasn't stopped the outrage.
One pissed off reader was legendary creator Gerry Conway, who addrressed the changes in an editorial on ComicBook.com. Conway compared the move to sabotage, saying of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, "I’ll give the man this: he’s moved faster to undermine an existing technology for the benefit of his own company than General Motors did when it sabotaged Los Angeles’s public transit Red Line for the benefit of the bus fleet they wanted to sell the City of Angels. Job well done, Jeff."
Conway said that the move "strikes to the heart of what made Comixology’s app a near-perfect venue for discovering and falling in love with new comics, a venue creators and publishers have been searching for since the collapse of mainstream newsstand distribution in the late 1970s-early ’80s: it destroys the casual reader’s easy access to an impulse purchase."
He also had some words for comic book stores that are bound to stir up some controversy, saying that comics "have been struggling in a ghetto for thirty years. That ghetto is called the comic book store." Conway explained that he loves comic shops, but that they limit potential new readers to people "comfortable immersing themselves immediately in a very specific sub-cultural experience" by entering a specialty store.
Go and read the full article, which is very lengthy and describes Conway's own experiences discovering comics and laments the lost opportunity for new readers to do the same through comiXology. He also paints Apple as a victim in the deal, which is a little harder to swallow since the tech giants are all too big to be trusted. In any case, like many readers, Conway views the Amazon takeover of comiXology as worrying for the future of digital comics.
What do we think? Fuck, you don't even own the comics you buy on comiXology. What did you think was going to happen? Go buy your comics DRM free from Image, Thrillbent, or any other platform that gives you an actual file that you can do what you want with. Paying the same price for a license to "read" something as it costs to buy a physical copy in the store was never a good idea.