Comixology is the largest digital comics distribution platform on iOS, Android and Windows 8. The company has been going strong since 2007 and their technology powers the reading apps from Marvel, DC, Archie, and has every single comic and graphic novel of the Walking Dead. Last week, Amazon announced they acquired Comixology. This did not really surprise anyone who keeps tabs on the digital comic industry, but did Apple, B&N and Kobo miss the boat?
When it comes to selling comic books online, Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Google and many other players all sell them. Surprisingly most only sell graphic novels, instead of single issue comics. Graphic novels usually comprise of 6 issues of a series and make it easier than purchasing each one separately. This appeals to more casual readers, but hardcore readers often choose Comixology to stay on top of all of the new releases every Wednesday. The only notable exception is DC making a new agreement with Google to carry new single issue comics on the Google Books Store.
Why did Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Kobo not pursue this deal? This could have been game changers for those companies and it could have appealed to the people who have downloaded over 215 million comics from Comixology. Industry experts have speculated that the B&N executive team is not forward thinking enough to actually go through with it and they have their own turmoil in the executive ranks to think about. Kobo is exclusively focused on international expansion and Apple is only concerned with making the 30% royalty on in-app purchases and selling stuff on iTunes.
If there was a single company to benefit the most from Comixology, it was Amazon. The Seattle based company had developed comic technology called Panel View option for fixed layout illustrated ebooks. This attempt was clearly trying to clone the far superior Guided View from Comixology. Amazon also does not allow high resolution images in KF8 FXL files, which is their file format to emulate EPUB3, but also appealing to more visual and interactive titles. Considering Amazon is putting a priority on high resolution displays on the Kindle Fire HDX line of tablets, the deal with Comixology deal solves all of these issues.
I really feel like Barnes and Noble and Kobo really missed a golden oportonity to purchase Comixology. Both of them would have been better caretakers of the comic company and could have benefited from something no one else had. The deep pockets of Kobo owned Rakuten could have financed the deal and could have added the last piece of the puzzle to their trifecta of eBooks, Kids titles and magazines. Barnes and Noble could have really had a great content distribution system that is a proven revenue earner to offset the losses on Nook hardware and eBooks.