They’re not shutting down, and they are in fact going to continue distributing content from a large number of artists and publishers in PDF, fixed layout Epub, and KF8 format. You’ll still be able to find the content in any number of ebookstores.
As Micah Baldwin explains in a blog post:
When we launched Graphicly, we had one goal: Help all publishers and creators get their stories seen. As we built out a series of marketplaces inside other marketplaces, we started to realize that we were no longer being supportive of that goal. Instead, we became a giant store, and while on the surface there is a lot of personal ego knowing that you are driving hundreds of thousands of people daily to your store, somewhere in there, our mission got lost.
If you’ve already bought the content you’ll still be able to read it in the apps you have. But as of this week you cannot download the apps anymore; Graphicly has already pulled them from iTunes and elsewhere. This is going to be something of a problem if you need to replace your device, and that goes double considering I’ve checked my usual download sites and they don’t have copies of any of the apps.
I read this story earlier in the day and since then I’ve been wondering if there might be other reasons why Graphicly did it. I don’t mean to sound like I disbelieve Micah, but it seems to me that there might be another reason. I’ve come up with one that could be an even better reason than the one above: marketing.
I was reading the blog post for a second time I noticed the emphasis on the content distributed by Graphicly besides comics. They handle all sorts of fixed layout books, including children’s books, art books, magazines, and textbooks.
One important detail about all the types of content is that they need to be marketed in different ways to different customers. Giving up the apps would free up the publishers to do their own marketing elsewhere and relieve Graphicly of any need to do it. Then again, this could just be me blowing smoke.
Still, this is not good news for anyone who wanted to avoid being tied to one of the big boys. Everyone is talking this week about Pottermore, and they’re holding it up as proof that an ebookstore can go it alone and compete with the big boys (never mind that Harry Potter is the iPad of content). This news about Graphicly suggests that even thought you can do it on your own, you might be better off working with the majors.
It’s also a graphic lesson in why I don’t invest in content that I cannot control. Anyone who bought content direct from Graphicly is going to lose access to it in the near future. If they had bought the same titles from one of the major ebookstores, they could have protected themselves by removing the DRM and archiving a copy.