When Comixology was acquired by Amazon it put comic book publishers on notice. They realized that they had to look for alternative distribution methods, because it was only a matter of time before they had to renegotiate their contracts. This has promoted DC to sign a new agreement with iVerse, making their entire line of comics available via the ComicsPlus app.
DC and Marvel account for 70% of the print and digital market for comics. They both offer standalone apps that were designed and run by Comixology, something many comic buyers are unaware of. When Comixology decided to abandon in-app purchases from their main app for iOS, users lost the ability to make impulse purchases. This is something that iVerse is hoping to leverage.
“DC coming on board has been huge for iVerse as a company — obviously — but it’s also been important for me personally,” said iVerse CEO Michael Murphey. “I have been a DC fan for as long as I can remember. I was a Superman fan before I could talk, and those characters and that universe are still very, very important to me. I could not be happier to have them on board.”
iVerse knows that in order to take on ComiXology in a serious way, they have to innovate. One of the ways they intend on making this happen is to make significant upgrades to the app. One feature, that is entirely unique is being able to rent graphic novels. Graphic novels from participating publishers can be rented via ComicsPlus for, typically, $1.99 for 24 hours, $2.99 for 48 hours, and $3.99 for 120 hours. Titles from Archie, IDW, and Valiant show up in the initial offering.
Renting comics makes sense, because when you purchase a comic in full, you don’t actually retain ownership. Instead, you merely license it, which makes renting something that normally retails for $19.99 or more, is a solid value proposition.
The other big upgrade to the app is an alternative to the Comixology guided view system, named “uView.” This is a system that allows readers to crop panels into a slideshow-like sequence and then view their creation in a similar manner. Some titles will ship with a “featured” uView as an automatic download.
Finally, iVerse is planning on rolling out a DRM-Free system sometime in 2015, that will allow readers to have a true sense of ownership of the comics they buy. No publishers have been announced yet, but likely the company wants to launch with hundreds of comics from several publishers at once.
I think publishers really want to get away from Comixology and iVerse is one of the last men standing from the original rush of companies entering the mobile and tablet space several years ago. The fact they are continuing to stay relevant and innovate is a boon to comic book lovers.