Just a few short months after rumors first circulated that online giant Amazon would buy comiXology, the premiere digital comics platform, former competitor Graphic.ly is shutting its doors, dealing another blow to the reputation of digital comics. According to a report on Bleeding Cool, most of Graphic.ly's staff are moving to indie book publisher Blurb, where they will continue doing... basically the same thing they did at Graphic.ly, whatever that was. At one point it was selling digital comics, and then it had something to do with social media, and eventually it became something about allowing users to convert their comics to digital formats to be sold in existing online marketplaces. But users of those self-publishing services will need to download their books in the next thirty days before Graphic.ly deletes them forever, because fuck you, that's why (more on that below).
As for the reasoning behind the shut down, Graphic.ly founder Micah Baldwin paints it as a philosophical issue in a blog post:
For all the promise of digital, there is nothing that demonstrates the love a fan has for a creator that the buying of a printed work. The act of placing a book on a shelf, of touching and smelling the pages, is irreplaceable.
As we spent more time with creators and fans, it became apparent that we were telling half the story. That the digital story, while interesting and compelling was incomplete.
We started to look for a solution for the creators and publishers that used Graphicly daily.
In the time that Blurb has been around, they have built a profitable, nearly $100mm business around helping creators create beautiful print books. Nearly 2 million creators have made nearly 10 million books through Blurb.
They get the power of story, and more importantly, print, digital and self-publishing.
As often happens in conversations like these, we began to realize that one plus one could equal five if we worked together rather than separately.
Which leads us to today. Today is the Graphicly team’s first day at Blurb. (I’ll leave talk about the transaction to other more journalistic channels. Let me just say that everyone is happier today than they were yesterday.)
I am excited to bring what we have learned and built from our time at Graphicly to Blurb. I am excited to have the support and infrastructure to work with Eileen Gittins, Blurb’s CEO and the rest of the Blurb team to create a complete experience for creators looking to own their stories and tell them to the world.
And, while this may be my final blurb on Graphicly, it is just the beginning of the real, complete story.
Isn't that nice? Of course, that doesn't really explain why the company would not migrate their existing catalog of books, for which self-publishers paid Graphic.ly a fee to have convert into digital formats and added to places like Amazon and iTunes. Graphic.ly will be removing the books from those marketplaces, and customers will need to download them within 30 days and individually upload them to each of the stores, incurring whatever fees and signing whatever new agreements needed to make that happen. In addition, according to a later report on Bleeding Cool, Graphic.ly is being somewhat ambiguous on whether they will actually be paying small and self-publishers the money they're owed for the sales of their books.
The Outhouse spoke to industry analyst Chicken Little for his take on this developing situation, and he told us, "AAAAAAAGHHHHHHHH THE SKY IS FALLING!!!" Controversial retailer, CoBRA Commander, and digital comics opponent Dennis Barger Jr. has not yet commented or verbally attacked Mark Waid, but we'll update this article as soon as he does.