Last week Amazon announced a new initiative titled Comixology Originals, a series of creator-owned titles to be released on Comixology and print-on-demand. Each of the titles will be available for free reading for Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited and ComiXology Unlimited subscribers. Amazon has lined up some big names for the program including Richard Starkings, Sam Humphries, and Tim Seeley.
Fantagraphics' Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds took to Twitter to lambaste Amazon and Comixology for the program as "a blatant grab at strengthening its digital and print market using its inherent monolithic market advantages."
If you value high-quality printing and diverse books, today's amazon/comixology announcement is concerning. Amazon's print-on-demand offers exactly one paper stock option, two finishes (matte/gloss), limited trim options, and paperback only.— Eric Reynolds (@earinc) June 2, 2018
2. The business model is interesting: Create digital content that boosts comixology's lagging performance and also provides a cost-effective print component that completely eschews comic book distribution and book trade.— Eric Reynolds (@earinc) June 2, 2018
3. But the print component is inherently constrained by Amazon's print-on-demand tech, which isn't terrible w/in its constraints but is something that wouldn't work for 90% or more of what we publish.— Eric Reynolds (@earinc) June 2, 2018
4. There's also the fact that this is a blatant grab at strengthening its digital and print market using its inherent monolithic market advantages, despite a real concern that this announcement shows little editorial or curatorial acumen.— Eric Reynolds (@earinc) June 2, 2018
5. Amazon's end game here is clear. They eventually want their proprietary P-O-D tech to fulfill as much consumer book demand as possible, & these exclusives are a way of conditioning comics fans to this process, so we publishers will eventually conform our business.— Eric Reynolds (@earinc) June 2, 2018
6. In other words, we're probably fucked, but we'll keep on doing our part— Eric Reynolds (@earinc) June 2, 2018
Amazon does have a lot of weight behind it and if they want to bring some change to the industry, they certainly have the power to. Every day there seems to be a new demon fucking the industry and unless the quality of Amazon's print-on-demand services can rival the best publishers, it's unclear whether this will take the industry by storm.
Fantagraphics has distributed through Comixology since 2012 and is enrolled in its Comixology Unlimited program. We'll see if any of that changes in the future.