ComiXology removes in-app comic purchasing

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Date: Thursday, May 1st, 2014, 14:08
Category: Amazon, Android, App Store, Apple, Apps, Google, iOS, Software

Comixology_biteI think it’s safe to say that it was Amazon that did the removing, but the fact remains that a major feature of the iOS app was removed. For the Android version, there were also some changes, but not as drastic. Comic purchases are now routed through comiXology instead of Google. The move is intended to avoid paying Apple and Google a premium for making purchases through their systems.  For Apple, that means loosing 30 percent of each purchase, something it has charged for in-app purchases since 2011. Instead of buying within the app, in the iOS case, customers will now have to make purchases via the comiXology website. Purchases will then be downloaded to the app once the user opens it, much like e-books do on Amazon’s Kindle for iOS app.

ComiXology has discontinued its existing iOS app and has replaced it with a new reader-only version that removes the older app’s in-app comic purchasing ability. Naturally, you’ll still be able to read comics that you’ve previously purchased through in-app purchasing, but you will need to sync your previous purchases with the new app via the Restore function. If you think that by not upgrading, you’ll manage to get around the new limitation, think again. You can continue to read your existing comics through the old app if you like, but you won’t be able to purchase new comics with it. Last, but not least, comiXology’s Tumblr post about the change mentions a promotion for existing comiXology users, meant to ease the transition;

“Last, but not least, to thank our loyal customers and ease this transition, we are offering a $5 eGift Card credit to all those who have purchased through the comiXology platform in the past. This credit will be automatically applied throughout the day to those accounts who are eligible and all of those eligible have 30 days to purchase books with that credit. Enjoy!”

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but that amounts to one comic and some change. I doubt that will do much to ease the angst of those customers who have voiced their irritation of the change. Alongside the users who are shaking their fists in the air vowing never to use the app again, citing Amazon monopolist behavior to simple lack of desired functionality, there are those raising the concern that the removal of in-app purchasing means fewer impulse buys and thus a drastic reduction in comic sales, which potentially hurts independent publishers the most. Along these lines is another change in the app, the ability for users to be notified about sales via the app itself. iOS comic fans will now have to sign up for comiXology’s email newsletter to get the skinny on those.

In a statement to Engadget, Chip Mosher, comiXology’s VP of Communications and Marketing, says this about the change away from in-app purchasing;

“There are many advantages to shopping at comiXology.com. Because of the content restrictions our mobile partners have, shopping on the web provides even greater selection of comic books and graphic novels. iOS customers will now be able to save money with comiXology’s exclusive web-only Bundles, take advantage of Subscription features and enjoy eGift Cards. We also made our website more tablet/mobile friendly on all devices to make the purchasing process that much easier. And in Safari on iOS, customers can easily save a shortcut to our webstore with the “Add to Home Screen” feature.”

You can read the rest of the statement here. Lastly, for users of the separate DC and Marvel apps for iOS, it’s a wait-and-see game as to whether in-app purchasing is removed. Both run on comiXology’s platform, but are licensed separately by the comics’ publishers. Personally, the change won’t prevent me from using it entirely, but I will admit that it’s likely to seriously curtail my comic purchasing as the process that was once one-click on my iPad, now requires me to go to my desktop Mac, browse to comiXology’s web site, and engage in numerous mouse clicks to make my purchase, afterwards I still have to download the comics to my iPad. I get that they don’t want to pay Apple, but is that justified considering the crippled user experience and possible hit to sales? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.

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