Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2 (Lenghty) Reasons Why It Isn't A Big Deal Amazon Bought ComiXology

Everyone Is Going Crazy!
The internet's response to Amazon buying ComiXology.
Should you have been on the internet recently you probably heard the big news that the company that is arguably the largest distributor of digital comic-books, ComiXology, was bought by big-name online retailer Amazon. Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool was eager to point out he had predicted this, but most folk were pretty surprised. The thing that I find interesting, along with Rachel Edidin of Wired, is how people are utterly freaking out about this news when in fact I don't think it will really turn out to be that big of a deal in the end, and I have two reasons why.

Reason One This Isn't A Big Deal--OR--Quit Using The Word "Monopoly" Like You Know What It Means
Amazon buying ComiXology is not an example of a monopoly,
your sibling buying Broadwalk and screwing you over with their Hotels is.
The thing that surprises me the most about all this is people bemoan a big company like Amazon purchasing ComiXology as if most of the comic industry isn't run by huge companies (Hello, Time Warner, and greetings, Disney). It always boggles peoples' minds when I tell them how a company known as "Diamond" has what is basically a total monopoly over the distribution of comics and somehow it is legal--basically the Department of Justice concluded that because stores can buy trade paperbacks and hardcovers from other companies, and Diamond does that too, its okay they utterly own market for the distribution of individual comics. Therefore, anyone who takes into account Diamond and their stranglehold on the comics-market is being a tad hypocritical when they talk about Amazon buying out ComiXology as resulting in some sort of unfair monopoly in the digital comics marketplace.
Looking for a legitimate example of a monopoly in the comic's business?
Well, look here.
Amazon has had digital comics on their Kindle, and now they have ComiXology's resources to further improve those Kindle-based comics, and make a nice profit off the sale of digital comics via ComiXology to computers, iPads, and etc. Frankly, I'm more surprised it took someone this long to buy-out ComiXology, not that it was bought. It makes perfect sense for Amazon to be the buyer as they already are expanding into comics more and more with a fair amount of folk finding their website has better deals for the newest graphic novel than a comic-store might. With Amazon making these inroads into physical comics more and more with their incredibly-low prices, would it really be any leap of logic to say they would want some of that sweet, sweet digital pie too? Plus, it isn't even like there is a lack of other digital-buying options. People can get their comics directly from a web-store of publishers such as Image and Dark Horse, so unlike the monopoly that Diamond holds on physical comics, the digital marketplace is still live and well.

Reason Two This Isn't A Big Deal--OR--Your Physical Comics Will Be Fine
If you can buy books on a Kindle or iPad,
is it a big stretch to enjoy the occasional comic on them too?
People buy digital comics, that isn't a secret. It still doesn't make up a gigantic number of sales of comics though (I think I read somewhere maybe 10% of total comic-books sold at the most) and there have been arguments made that at least some of those who buy digital comics may be a different market than the usual physical-comic buyer. For example, someone who buys a digital comic based on a television show they like is buying the comic because they like the T.V. show, not because they like comics, and the odds of seeing them in a comic store other than to buy that one series they like would be pretty slim. While that concept of course wouldn't apply to all digital-buyers, the other argument that those who buy digital comics may be intimidated by a physical store and therefore would have never bought a print comic anyway is another interesting theory I've heard.
It will be many page-turns on a calendar before print is gone.
Although physical calendars may be at great risk, now that I think about it.
Whatever the case is about who does and doesn't buy digital comics, I think it should be evident that for now print comics are going to be okay at least into the near-future. While I would agree that 30, 20, or even 10 years down the line that comics in the physical form could be in danger of being overtaken by digital, it isn't happening yet and people acting like Amazon buying ComiXology is going to somehow cause this to happen sooner are just being foolish. When ComiXology and digital comics in general came into the marketplace there were those who immediately declared this was the death knell for comics and before we realized what had happened that print comics as we knew them would be gone, with the weekly "floppy" a memory, and trade paperbacks and hardcovers barely surviving.
This company didn't kill print comics.
It still isn't going to even with Amazon's purchase.
It's been  some time since ComiXology came into existence and clearly the people who predicted a swift death of the print-based comic were horribly wrong, as while print comics may not do gangbusters compared to the insanely-big sales of the 1990's (right before the market crashed for a bit), the market is still thriving, with the rise in popularity of super-hero movies actually contributing to some new readers coming into the fold and people stopping by comic stores for the first time who in the past may have never engaged in such an activity--or these people buy digital comics, meaning they had never bought print, and therefore are just a new comics customer (not some physical comic-buyer who was lured away by the siren song of digital, as some predicted would immediately happen to almost all print-readers). ComiXology has been around and print is still fine--and will most likely remain okay for a least awhile. With the rise of digital technology it isn't a stretch to say at some point the print comic could be threatened, but that threat applies to books, DVDS, and all forms of physical media that could be replaced by that behemoth of media distribution known as the internet. For now though, don't worry.

Keep Your Cool, Fans of Comic Books!
This is just my own mock-up,
but it would be a good future name.
All of this writing illustrates my point that it isn't a big deal that Amazon bought ComiXology. There already is an example of a huge monopoly in the comic-book industry, and this purchase doesn't even create a digital monopoly because there are other competitors. Also, physical comics will still be here for the foreseeable future so that isn't anything to be upset over yet. That makes stating that this gives Amazon a digital monopoly or saying the purchasing of ComiXology by Amazon speeds up the demise of print something silly and not at all thought-out. Just keep your cool, folks, it's all business as usual.

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