On Saturday, Comixology, the dominant digital comics distributor recently purchased by Amazon, released a new iOS app that removes the in-app comic book store. The move is widely seen as a play to avoid the standard 30 percent fee Apple takes from in-app purchases.
Amazon’s Kindle app for iOS also eschews in-app purchases, forcing users to buy books through a browser. So it’s not surprising that shortly post-purchase, Amazon’s first major move with Comixology would be to cut Apple out.
Comixology’s Android app also got a update that reveals the difference between Google Play and the Apple App Store: instead of a whole new app, Android users will simply have to update. However, to avoid Google’s digital distribution fees, Comixology is no longer using the Google Play purchase system, and users will have to re-enter payment information. Unlike on iOS, Android users can still purchase comics from within the app.
On Sunday, Comixology VP Chip Mosher released a statement to Engadget:
“As we move to complete the acquisition with Amazon, we are shifting to the web-based purchasing model they’ve successfully used with the Kindle, which we expect will allow us to strike the best balance between prices, selection and customer experience.
There are many advantages to shopping at comiXology.com. Because of the content restrictions our mobile partners have, shopping on the web provides even greater selection of comic books and graphic novels. iOS customers will now be able to save money with comiXology’s exclusive web-only Bundles, take advantage of Subscription features and enjoy eGift Cards. We also made our website more tablet/mobile friendly on all devices to make the purchasing process that much easier. And in Safari on iOS, customers can easily save a shortcut to our webstore with the ‘Add to Home Screen; feature.”
According to the Comixology Submit indie marketplace FAQ, independent authors receive 50 percent of the net sale, less mobile distribution fees. For self-published comics sold through the previous iOS scheme, that means royalties would work out to 35% gross, but since iOS users will now purchase comics through the browser, authors should see a jump in the proportion of royalties they receive. (This would only apply to a few authors, though; the bulk of comics sold through comiXology are from big publishers like Marvel and DC Comics, and their royalty structure likely won’t be affected.)
While this move obviously degrades consumer experience — goodbye impulse purchases — I’d be willing to live with a slightly inconvenient purchasing process if a little more money went to the authors.