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Is Amazon Looking to Buy Comixology?

There’s an ComiXology-Comics-Appinteresting rumor going around comic book circles this week, and it just crossed my desk today. It seems Comixology is rumored to be up for sale, with a deal expected to close in the next 3 to 6 weeks:

ComiXology has an effective monopoly on the digital sale of many popular comics on a number of platforms, but a recent departure of many senior figures and a number of exclusive distribution contracts coming to an end have caused some to wonder what its next move would be.

The answer seems to have been to expand internationally with India, China and much of Europe and South America being especially receptive. While much of the revenue goes to the publisher and to Apple, it should be pointed out that ComiXology is repeatedly the No. 1 gross revenue app on iOS, especially on Wednesdays.

But who would buy such a company? Well, the second part of this rumour, which suddenly gets a lot hazier, is that the buyer could be Amazon. They already distribute comics digitally through the Kindle – directly and also via ComiXology. There has been some competitive ruckus between the two in the past, and this would smooth that over instantly. And this also might create an effective digital comic book monopoly.

I can’t say for sure whether this rumor is true or not, but it is one of those rumors that would make a lot of sense.

Update: It’s true!

Iconology (the parent company that owns comiXology) dominates the digital textbook market, and they are have a strong influence in paper comics distribution. This company was initially launched with the idea of providing a "pull list" service which enabled comic book fans to request that their local comic book store order specific titles each week. (This is worth more than it might appear.)

ComiXology used that pull list service to develop close ties with publishers, and when the time was ripe they used those ties to launch a digital comics platform which now dominates that market in much the same way that Audible dominates audiobooks. They have apps for Android,  iPad, Windows 8, iPhone, and the web browser, as well as the largest digital comic catalog anywhere.

comixology mobile

Iconology is an interesting company, all the more so because I can’t figure out who owns it or how it is funded. They won’t say, and the information isn’t publicly available. (I checked.)

But is Amazon trying to buy Iconology?

It would certainly make sense. I’ve been saying for nearly a year that Amazon was going to buy the leading retailer in markets where Amazon only has a token presence, and Iconology definitely falls in that category. What’s more, this move would give Amazon a dominance of the digital comics market that mirrored their presence in audiobooks.

Of course, that does not mean this rumor is true, but I would not be surprised if Amazon announced this deal a few weeks from now.

Bleeding Cool

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Maria (BearMountainBooks) March 29, 2014 um 5:51 pm

It seems like a logical move for them in many ways.

fjtorres March 29, 2014 um 6:23 pm

Amazon buying Iconology or Comixology?
Both make sense but getting Icononology makes even more sense given Amazon’s penchant for buying full operations, not just pieces.

Nate Hoffelder March 30, 2014 um 6:35 am

It would also make sense for Google to buy Iconology, or Ingram. In fact, since Ingram is a distributor as well as a tech company they are actually a more likely candidate than Amazon.

Greg Strandberg March 29, 2014 um 6:36 pm

I just don’t like reading comics digitally. I doubt that will change the way things are going.

When I was researching the G.I. Joe Kindle Worlds I ordered a volume of old comics. I didn’t like reading them so much that I ordered the physical volume used, which was actually cheaper.

If Amazon does do this, they need to have better zooming capabilities so I can get at that small text.

Patrick Watson March 30, 2014 um 6:01 pm

What kind of device were you using for the GI Joe collection? I’ve found 8″ or bigger with 1920×1080 or better to be workable. Anything smaller requires "guided view".

Greg Strandberg March 30, 2014 um 6:04 pm

I don’t have money for devices, so I use the laptop. You have to double-click on each text box to get a zoom, so that means you’re constantly clicking, even more so than with a game.

I guess the world isn’t geared toward the poor.

tiku March 31, 2014 um 5:33 pm

Does ComiXology have Japanese comics? Preferably complete sets of ones that have finished in Japan?


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