I am hearing rumours from comic publishing partners of ComiXology that the digital distributor is offering major publishers the opportunity to sell their comics on ComiXology without DRM. And while it is unlikely that the Disney owned Marvel and the Warners owned DC would agree to such a thing, Image Comics would seem like an instant yes and others are likely to follow.
This is an interesting rumor and given that the Kindle Store offers a similar DRM-free option (but Audible doesn't) the rumor is certainly possible. Unfortunately, it's missing a few key details that keep me from telling whether it is plausible or not.
For example, there's no mention of the resulting format. If someone told me that Amazon planned to offer DRM-free Epub, I would conclude the rumor is bogus because Amazon is unlikely to support Epub. And since Comixology's own file format isn't designed to be downloaded and read anywhere except a Comixology app, offering that as a DRM-free download wouldn't be worth much.
That pretty much leaves PDF, CBR, CBZ, and Amazon's own Kindle fixed-layout format. All are plausible, but they also present issues. The first three formats lack many of the advanced features of the Comixology and Kindle formats, including directed view, and the last format would present a technical challenge for converting from Comixology's own format. (Plus the Kindle apps don't offer a good reading experience for digital comics.)
But even though this rumor raises more questions than it answers, it's not implausible. Like the greater ebook market, comic book readers want DRM-free comics and publishers want to supply them. Some, like Image Comics, have started DRM-free direct sales while others are participating in bundles which offer DRM-free comics. And with the North American comic book market worth $90 million in 2013, there's certainly money to be made or lost in DRM-free comics.
I have queried Comixology on this rumor, but they are in San Diego this week for ComiCon so they are quite understandably to busy to answer emails.
Update: Comixology has said that they don't comment on rumors.
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