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Ebay Gets Into Digital Comics – Fun Times are Ahead

Ebay has longebay digital comics been letting creators sell digital content and today they decided to join the party. They’ve just opened a new marketplace where you can buy digital comics.

Launched in partnership with comiXology, the new marketplace lets you browse a diverse selection of over 40,000 top comics and graphic novels. After you’ve decided on a purchase, you’ll be directed to comiXology yo complete the transaction.

Ebay is an online marketplace second only to Amazon in the breadth of their selection, so it should probably come as no surprise that they would be interested in branching out into digital content. But I am a little surprised to see just how much they are relying on comiXology.

This marketplace looks to me like it is more of an affiliate partnership between Ebay and comiXology rather than the marketplace which TechCrunch describes it as. Everything beyond the initial browsing is handled by comiXology, including hosting the listings and payment processing. You even read the comics with a comiXology app  (browser, Android, iPhone, etc).

ebay digital comics

This is odd because Ebay would seem to be the perfect candidate to open an ebookstore. They have the capability to process payments and the money to fund the development of a ebookstore platform (or simply buy one), so the only surprise today is that they haven’t done so. Instead Ebay has taken the more cautious step by instead playing the lesser partner to comiXology and letting the experienced digital comics distributor shoulder the burden.

This is a more cautious move than I am used to seeing in startups, and it is probably a smart decision. At this point Ebay doesn’t know if this idea will work out so they have decided to keep their investment to a minimum.

It’s also a good idea because Ebay clearly doesn’t have the content filters you might expect in an ebookstore. They don’t have a significant piracy problem, per se; I only found a few pirated titles, all from new sellers. This tells me that the pirates are probably banned on a regular basis. But Ebay does have an excess of spam content like PLR and "how to succeed on Ebay" ebooks. That type of content has been cleared out of the Kindle Store, Smashwords, and most other ebookstores a long time ago, and if Ebay is serious about ebooks then they’ll need to clean that stuff up.

And I hope they are serious because their entry into ebooks will shake up the market. it’s been awhile since that last happened, and the ebook market could use the disruption.

I am also looking forward to the first time someone tries to sell or buy erotica via Ebay’s ebookstore; now that will be fun. Ebay, as you know, owns Paypal. Remember last year when Paypal tried to bully Smashwords into no longer selling erotica?

Paypal was and is Smashwords' payment processor, and it threatened to stop handling the funds unless the erotica was removed from Smashwords.

Paypal was forced to back down due to public pressure, but my point here is that Ebay shares Paypal’s puritanical streak. I am looking forward to watching them balk at the thought of selling naughty books (even the tamer ones are probably too much).

P.S. The whole Ebay, ebook, and other issues came up a couple weeks ago in the comments section on this blog. I’d like to thank Ray and Felix for their comments, without which I could not have written this post.

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DebbyS December 6, 2013 um 8:34 am

Until I can buy and download comics in PDF form (or some format that is as equally accessible), to keep for myself and read on whatever device I want to use, I’ll keep buying them at my local comic shop and scanning them myself. I don’t have nor do I wish to get or go to where there is wifi.

Ray Kumar December 6, 2013 um 4:47 pm

Thanks Nate for the gracious shout out about my Ebay ebookstore comment made on your Readmill/Amazon blog post.

BTW, in case you missed it, there was this postive piece about Readmill earlier this week in The Atlantic "The E-Reading Software That’s Better Than Kindle or iBooks"

Ana December 7, 2013 um 12:08 pm

Image Comics (Saga, Fatale…) are launching some of their comics DRM free. For now they’re not launching their backlist, but I’m keeping them in mind for my next buy. I want to finish other series by now, but I’m surely buying from them the next Fatale volume compiling various issues.

DebbyS December 7, 2013 um 1:27 pm

Thanks for the tip, Ana! I read Image’s Invincible and comics related to that character, as well as some others by Robert Kirkman (but not TWD, got bored/depressed by issue #30, traded ’em in). Maybe I’ll be able to download some of their line to my computer eventually 🙂

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