The digital comics market garnered over $100 million dollars in 2014 and Amazon has quickly become the dominant player. The Seattle company now controls 90% of the comic market, thanks to its strategic purchase of Comixology last year. 2015 has been a year of consolidation within the comic industry as Amazon is trying to distance themselves from their competitors such as Apple, Google and Madefire.
When Amazon purchased Comixology in early 2014 they immediately disabled all in-app purchases within their iOS apps and switched to their own internal processing system in their Android app. Amazon simply wanted to make more money and not have to pay a commission every time someone bought a comic book. This move enraged their existing user-base because visiting a website to purchase content and then syncing all of the new data took more work.
This year, Amazon has given us a sense of how their endgame for comics is going to play out. The company added over 15,000 single issue and graphic novels from Marvel. According to Publishers Weekly “Marvel dominates the single-issue market with a 41% dollar share and a 43% unit share, according to the most recent industry statistics. More importantly, Marvel comics are the gateway to merchandise and media franchises worth billions—something that Amazon certainly understands. The exclusive deal with Marvel is a major competitive advantage. It is hard to see how a competing comics distribution platform could be useful to Google or Apple without Marvel in its catalog.”
One of Comixology’s biggest strengths has been their whitelabel service that powers some of the biggest digital comic apps out there. Marvel, DC, Image, and the Walking Dead are all fine examples of how Comixology allows these companies to offer digital content and the ability to make in-app purchases on Android and iOS.
I remain confident in the next few years we will see Amazon pushing Comixology to add more publishers to the Kindle store, in order to provide more single issue content to get e-reader and tablet owners to keep coming back to make more purchases every week, when new comics arrive.