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Amazon to Acquire ComiXology

ComingComiXology-Comics-App nearly 2 weeks after rumors broke about the deal, Amazon announced today that they were acquiring the leading digital comics distributor comiXology.

In one fell swoop Amazon has bought a strong position in yet another digital market.

comiXology is the leading digital comics distributor; it dominates a market where Amazon only has a token presence, and that is probably why Amazon bought them.

With partnerships with over 75 comic book publishers including Marvel and DC, comiXology sells digital comics to millions of readers. They have apps for Android,  iPad, Windows 8, iPhone, and the web browser, as well as the largest digital comic catalog anywhere.

comixology mobilecomiXology has been selling digital comics since July 2009. Amazon, on the other hand, only started selling digital comics in the Kindle Store in November 2011. Amazon’s digital comics efforts launched at the same time as the Kindle Fire, and at first were only available on that device.

Amazon has never disclosed how many digital comics they’ve sold, but it is safe to say that comiXology sells quite a few more. In many ways, comiXology is like Audible, the audiobook distributor Amazon acquired in 2008. Both companies secured control of a market via early investment in tech and aggressive pursuit of partnerships with publishers.

Update: I finally heard back from Amazon, and they told me that, like Amazon’s many other acquisitions, comiXology is going to be operated as a standalone business, with its brand, management team and headquarters in New York City intact. "Amazon, when it buys a working company that’s doing a good job, tends to let them spread their wings," said comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger. "It gives them resources and lets them go on the same path, only faster, better and stronger."

P.S. This deal had to have been in the works for 6 months or more, and negotiations may even have started before I predicted last July that Amazon should be interested in comiXology. I wish I knew which came first.

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fjtorres April 10, 2014 um 5:47 pm

It so fits the Bezos pattern the only question is why not before. 🙂
Comixology, like Audible and Zappos and simply did something better than Amazon and rather than fight an uphill battle, they bought them out.
I expect Kindle integration but little else in the way of changes.

I do wonder why they didn’t buy Roku… That is one market where they’re facing a long uphill fight now.

Nate Hoffelder April 10, 2014 um 5:52 pm

Nah. I think Roku is going to be bought by Facebook.

That deal would make about as much sense as the Oculus VR acquisition.

fjtorres April 10, 2014 um 7:25 pm

Some of those one trick tech companies look like they’re in diversification panic.

Nate Hoffelder April 10, 2014 um 9:18 pm

In light of the $150 million Microsoft wearable acquisition, yes. That made the $2 billion spent on Oculus VR look awfully desperate.

Chris Meadows April 10, 2014 um 7:08 pm

I see four big potential benefits to come out of this purchase:

1) Amazon gets to add ComiXology’s Guided Reading Mode technology to its own apps, and suddenly reading graphic novels on the Kindle apps is a lot less crappy experience.

2) Amazon gets access to all those pretty, colorful comics to use to promote its nifty high-definition color tablets. Maybe it even makes a free-to-Prime-subscribers comic book library to complement its free streaming video library.

3) ComiXology gets the benefit of rock-solid stability. It’s no longer in any danger of pulling a JManga and going out of business until and unless Amazon does, which is a lot less likely than it was for ComiXology on its own. Hence, buying e-comics from ComiXology is suddenly a lot safer long-term purchase than it was before the buy-out. (Unless, of course, Amazon decides to shut the company down, which doesn’t seem terribly likely—they didn’t shut Audible down, after all, and they already know all about the bad publicity that comes from taking away access to books people already bought and paid for.)

4) Maybe ComiXology’s DRM gets less annoying. (Kind of a long shot, but given that Amazon’s DRM is less annoying, it could happen.)

Anthony April 10, 2014 um 9:23 pm

Amazon’s DRM for *ebooks* may be less annoying, but their comics are still the same hardcore-DRM/proprietary format as Comixology’s… so not optimistic about it changing.

Nate Hoffelder April 11, 2014 um 7:36 am

Amazon already has a guided reading mode. Most publishers don’t use it, I’m told.

fjtorres April 11, 2014 um 8:52 am

Which suggests their volume is too low to justify the extra effort…
…or the publishers were too wedded to comixology…
Either way, problem solved.

Edward Bear April 10, 2014 um 7:12 pm

The ONLY reason I’m not a ComiXology customer already is their never-to-be-sufficiently-damned DRM. I was a Kickstarter backer of "Code Monkey Save World," and when I found out it was NOT going to be available in anything but CX’s crappy format, my attitude changed from support to "kill the project with fire."

If I can download the formats to my desktop kindle, I plan to buy a bunch of stuff.

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