Just a few years ago, Comixology was the center of the world for comic fans like myself. It was the primary hub through which we accessed the comics we know, love, and consume on a weekly basis. It made Wednesday mornings the best day of our week. Instead of trying to figure out how you’d get to a comic book store, you just rolled out of bed, turned on your computer, and purchased the books you wanted for the week.
I started waking up at 4:30 a.m. every Wednesday morning, just to get a head start on new books. Once Comixology started publishing new comics the same day they came out in stores, the floodgates opened for me. I suddenly had the perfect avenue to enjoy comics as I saw fit. And I genuinely loved it. Comixology had a special place in my heart.
Then, February 2022, that all changed. And years from now when we’re looking back on the history of comics, we might look at this moment as the beginning of the end for Comixology. Because that was the day that once-iconic website that we came to know and trust over the course of a decade disappeared. Instead, it was folded into Amazon’s Kindle store, a hub that was not designed for comics and not at all equipped to provide the same experience.
I remember that moment well. I just kept constantly trying to get back to the old site, only to be redirected to Amazon at every turn. I kept saying “I hate this!” again and again. I reached out to Comixology support, who have always been so responsive. They didn’t respond this time. They made public statements claiming they were committed to improving the interface. Absolutely none of those promises have been kept and it’s been over a fucking year.
Now, the story of how Comixology got folded into Amazon is a long one that I won’t recount. Amazon has actually owned Comixology since 2014. But that really wasn’t an issue because it didn’t change the site, the experience, or the service. If you didn’t see the Amazon logo on the front page, you probably wouldn’t have known that Comixology was an Amazon-owned company.
But for reasons that probably have to do with greed, arrogance, callousness, and cost-cutting, Amazon decided Comixlogy had to be completely integrated with their Kindle store. In addition, over half the staff working at Comixology was fired. And even though Amazon is a trillion-dollar company, the experience still sucks. The web reader still sucks. And I’ve yet to find a single person who prefers to the new site over the old Comixology site.
It’s now at a point where the future of Comixology, as a whole, is very much in doubt. Amazon didn’t care enough to keep the workers who made Comixology great, nor do they seem to care about providing the same experience that past customers grew to love. And once big corporations stop caring, you can assume things will never get better.
It’s at a point now where major publishers are taking notice. For years, Comixology was the perfect middleman for publishing companies. They provided the digital storefront while the publishers provided the comics. They share in some of the profits and everyone is happy, including the customers. Now, that dynamic is all screwed up and unhappy customers are not good for business.
Now, Marvel and DC Comics are investing heavily in their own digital comics services. I’ve sung the praises before of Marvel Unlimited, the Netflix-like service that essentially allows fans to binge Marvel’s vast catalog of comics. DC Comics is developing a similar service called DC Infinite. At the moment, these services don’t offer the newest issues. You usually have to wait 30 days for them to come out on the site.
But with these publishers shutting down applications that once integrated with Comixology, I think the stage is set. Publishers now have an incentive to cut ties with Comixology completely and develop their own apps. That will be quite devastating to the many smaller publishers and indie comics that once relied on Comixology’s brand to get their work out there. But I fear it’s already too late for them.
This likely means that if you’re a Marvel or DC fan, getting your favorite comics every week will eventually require you go through them instead of Comixology. That means learning how to use Marvel Unlimited and DC Infinite fast. It also means looking at your current collection and gauging which comics you’ll be able to keep and which will be at risk. That’s going to be tedious and you may lose some stuff you legitimately paid for. But don’t expect Amazon to care enough to fix it for you.
I’m already preparing. As soon as Marvel Unlimited starts offering some way of getting new comics the date of publication, I’ll have a very good reason to ditch Comixology. I still rely on it for a number of non-Marvel and non-DC titles I follow. But alternatives are already popping up. Hopefully, they get to a point where they offer a better value than Comixology/Amazon.
This transition is going to suck. There’s no way around it.
Chances are it’s also going to mean more money than we’d be spending if Comixology had remained unchanged. There’s no way around that, either.
But that’s the world we live in. It sucks and it will get worse before it even begins to get better. I take no pleasure in saying this, but this is where we are right now.