Blog - Web Design, Illustration, Photography and more Letraset Neon Markers Review i'm now on dribbble!

Latest Posts

Amazon, Comixology and the in-app purchase problem

Posted by Jordan on 30th April 2014

Today I am breaking a promise to myself.

My site has needed to be overhauled for some time (and I am currently midway through the process of a complete rebuild/design). I promised myself that I would not post on the blog until the new design is launched but I feel I must voice my opinion on the whole Amazon/Comixology Debacle and would encourage others to do so too.

Amazon Prime Comics

A couple of weeks ago, Amazon purchased Comixology, the digital comic distribution platform which has been hugely popular and successful in introducing comics to the younger generations and keeping alive an industry that would otherwise struggle in todays’ world of computer games and digital entertainment.

One of the greatest features of Comixology is the ability to sit and read comics on your smartphone or tablet, after all, if you had the choice between reading a comic on a high DPI display in your hand or at a desk on your computer, i’m sure the first option would be preferable.

Unfortunately, in less than two weeks of owning Comixology, Amazon has managed to not only through a ‘spanner in the works’ of this finely functioning machine, but has basically pulled down its’ pants and pissed on its customers to show it does not care and we all must acknowledge and bow to their mighty power.

For those of you who don’t know, they forcibly updated the app and removed the in-app purchase feature from iOS. This means users would have to exit the app, visit the Comixology website, log in, buy the comic (they would have had to store their card details on file with Comixology) and then go back to the app, sync it to read.

If you are wondering, the previous process was browse in app store, click buy (enter password or fingerprint if necessary) and read.

Now some of you may be thinking “oh, well it’s only a couple of extra steps… what does that matter”? Well from a User Experience (UX) point of view, it means a whole lot.

First of all, Amazon’s decision is increasing the barriers to buy on Comixology by adding extra steps. Amazon have claimed that the move will mean more money in the hands of creators but let’s ask this: how much of more can be gained and will be given to creators after they made the decision to close one of their biggest sales channels negatively effect the total number of sales?

I am a reader of John Layman & Rob Guillory’s fantastic comic, Chew. Ordinarily, I am a ‘classic’ superhero fan (Batman, X-Men etc) but I spotted the gorgeous artwork of Rob Guillory on a free/promo issue of Chew #1 on iPad (using no less than the Comixology in-app store function they’ve binned) and once started reading the witty, intelligent and fun writing style of John Layman, I was hooked. This was only last year, and of the back of that super easy, impulse buy that was only possible using in-app purchase (to navigate elsewhere would not really be ‘impulsive’) I bought Volumes 1-5 bringing me up to speed and have eagerly awaited each new issue as it is released.

Funnily enough, the latest issue is set for release today – will I buy it from Comixology? FUCK NO. Considering I have to log into the store and have that whole ‘hoo-hah’, I may as well visit the Image Comics, buy it from their online digital store and that way I actually receive the issue in PDF, ePub, CBR and CBZ formats – ready for me to add into any reader I choose.

The important thing to note is that without the ease of in-app purchase, I never would have been inclined to read Chew (as it was not really the genre I usually read) and therefore would not have given my hard earned cash to Layman, Guillory and Image Comics (and even Comixology). I also bought the Manahattan Projects vol 1 & 2 after seeing them whilst browsing the in-app store.

The other problem with the decision Amazon has made is security. If you want to use an iDevice effectively, you have to put a card on file – and for how much Apple customers use their Apple ID, I would say it is worth it. However, when possible, I try to avoid having lots of services with my card set up on file – more often than not, you don’t know how a company is storing your details and whether your info is truly secure.
In fact it was a couple of months ago when Comixology suffered a “wide-reaching” data breach and encrypted user info was stolen. Do you really want to put your card on file with them?

There’s no doubt about it, removing in-app purchases sucks. It’s bad for users, it’s bad for creators, it’s bad for Comixology and it’s bad for the comic industry in general.
It’s not just me thinking this either, Twitter was swamped with people voicing their thoughts on how crap this idea truly is – blogs and news channels have been streaming with stories about the move.
Even those in the industry are against it. Industry Legend Gerry Conway wrote an article explaining why he believes Amazon has made the move… and it makes sense. Mr Conway states that he believes Amazon have removed in-app purchases from iOS to “advance their proprietary hardware platform, the Kindle, at the expense of Appleā€™s platform, the iPad and iPhone”.

Will this work? Perhaps, on a few people. Personally, I won’t be rushing out and buying a kindle… in fact I have been pushed the other way:

I will no longer buy my comics from Comixology and will aim to avoid any online products/services from stores that are affiliated with or involved with Amazon.

There is one positive out of this whole situation – it opens/pushes the opportunity for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, IDW Productions to join together and create an online distribution platform to prevent what could be a very serious crisis in the industry.

My final note is to thank you for reading and ask one more thing of you. If no one acts or voices their opinion, Amazon will no doubt ruin Comixology and end up rebranding it something awful like “Amazon Prime Comics”.

I encourage everyone to tweet, blog, post and voice their problem with the move by Amazon and Comixology and don’t forget to hashtag it – #badMoveAmazon #comixology #amazon

Facebook Twitter Plusone Pinterest Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Tubmlr

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyrighted © 2011 | | All Rights Reserved | privacy policy

Valid CSS Valid XHTML