Over the weekend, customers of Comixology—the largest digital comics retailer on the web—received an email from the company explaining that there were new versions of its popular reader app available for Android and iOS devices. Interestingly, what one platform gained, the other lost: the Android version of the Comixology Comics reader now supports in-app purchasing, while the iOS version has been stripped of in-app purchasing. What gives?
The answer comes down to paying the middle-man. According to a post on comic book culture site ComicsAlliance, 30 percent of every purchase made through the iOS app was paid to Apple, as per the terms of selling content through its mobile OS—even if the purchase was made in the app, and not in the App Store or in iTunes. That, of course, is a pretty huge chunk of change to go to Apple for doing essentially nothing.
Now iOS users of Comixology can only make purchases via the company’s website, and then sync their apps with their accounts. If those users also have an Android device, they can make purchases via that platform, and those books should appear in the reader app on the iOS platform as well. To usher in the change, Comixology also sent every one of its customers a $5 credit to be spent within the next month or so.
A post on Neowin, however, reveals that customers aren’t taking the gift as a sign of good will. Says the post:
“The overall review rating for the app is now at one and a half stars. One comment stated, ‘Adding the extra step of going to their website to purchase the comic, then having to return to the device on which you want to read it, is completely unnecessary.’”
Only, it’s not completely unnecessary. As the aforementioned ComicsAlliance rightly post points out, the change now means that more money for purchases will go towards the people who actually make the comics that people are buying. The post quotes Edison Rex and Doc Savage writer Chris Roberson, who educates users on how the change benefits creators:
Now, readers will be spending the same amount on their @Comixology purchases, but the creators will be getting a bigger cut across the board
— Chris Roberson (@chris_roberson) April 26, 2014
In short, by getting out from under Apple’s thumb with regard to in-app purchasing, Comixology is doing a great service to its content creators, as well as to its customers. Yes, iOS users now have a somewhat more inconvenient path to reading comics on their iPads.
But now that Comixology doesn’t have to skim 30 percent of its revenue to pay Apple for the privilege of allowing in-app purchases, this opens the door for a creators to earn money for the content they provide. The people who are doing the actual work are going to get more reward, and hopefully that better deal for creators will lead to even more great content showing up on the app. The fact that Comixology will soon be a under the Amazon umbrella will likely make that situation even better for creators. Furthermore, chances are good that buying comics through Amazon’s website will be streamlined when the acquisition is made final in the not-to-distant future.
Altogether, this move is great for fans and makers of comics alike. If you’re an iOS user who’s irked by the change, stop for a moment and realize that your slight inconvenience is a great help to the people who made the comics you want to read in the first place.