There’s a larger version of the chart later in the post.
As you can see, creators and publishers have to give up two-thirds of the retail price to the retailer and the distributor. In spite of the fact that it’s possible to bypass comiXology and work directly with the major ebookstores, no one does that. If this is correct then it suggests that comiXology has the same dominant position in digital comics that Audible has in audiobooks.
Here is a more detailed explanation from Jim Zub, the comic creator who put together the chart:
- $0.90: 30% goes to the mobile platform (usually Apple or Google). This is a standard fee leveled on all in-app purchases (which is where the vast majority of digital transactions are happening). This is as close to non-negotiable as things get. You use their device, they take their share. It’s my understanding that comics bought directly through the website don’t have this fee levied against it, which means more money for comiXology, the publisher and the creative team, but it’s way less convenient.
- $1.05: 35% (or, more specifically, 50% of what’s left after Apple/Google takes their share) goes to comiXology. Staff is needed to prep files, maintain servers, update the site and deal with technical issues, so comiXology is acting as the digital distributor. Other digital platforms may take a lower percentage of the cover price, so this amount is by no means universal, but it applies to the current leader in the marketplace.
- The remaining $1.05 is split between advertising, the publisher and creative team. Each publisher has their own digital rates and it varies quite a bit from what I’ve been hearing. In some cases publishers don’t offer any percentage of digital sales to the creative team on a creator-owned title. Other than that unfortunate scenario, some publishers are making the same amount they would on a print copy (11-12%), while on the higher end the amount is split evenly between the two. With such a large range it’s hard to nail down exact figures, but it does give you a sense of how things tend to work.
P.S. As bad as the split might be for creators of comics, it’s still better than the current situation for print (more details here).