In a move that has rocked the world of comics, DC Comics has joined the ranks of publishers participating in ComiXology Unlimited - a subscription service, owned by Amazon, which gives its subscribers access to tens of thousands of comic books. The publisher will also be making its books available to subscribers of Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited.
Digital comics have become big business in recent years and proved a boon to those readers who don't have a local comic shop close by. DC Comics has spearheaded several innovations in this area, being the first major publisher to offer digital downloads of new comics on their release date, starting with Justice League #1 in 2011. They were also the first major publisher to sign a deal with Hoopla - an application that allows people to check out graphic novels and comic books through their local library. Despite this, DC Comics has proven reluctant to take part in any digital subscription services, apart from the archive of classic comics available as part of the DC Universe streaming service. It is possible this is due to DC Comics long partnership with Barnes and Noble, who were Amazon's chief rival on the e-reader market for many years.
The new partnership was announced in a press release issued by DC, ComiXology, and Amazon. The statement confirmed that a rotating variety of DC Comics graphic novels and comic books will be made available through ComiXology Unlimited, whose price will remain $5.99 a month despite the sudden influx of high-demand series. This library will also be made available as part of the Amazon Prime service and to e-reader users through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.
“With the addition of DC and DC Vertigo titles we’re providing more convenience and a great opportunity for readers to discover and explore some of the best stories comics have to offer at no additional cost to their current Prime, Kindle Unlimited or comiXology Unlimited subscription,” said comiXology CEO and Co-Founder David Steinberger.
The list of titles available at launch is an impressive one, featuring some of DC Comics most recent hits and a number of classics. Among these are the New York Times' Best-Selling Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2 graphic novels and Sean Murphy's Batman: White Knight as well as a number of series from the recent DC Rebirth revival, including Hope Larson's Batgirl. The deal will also include a number of series from Vertigo Comics, DC's mature-readers imprint, including The Sandman, Preacher and the 1987-1995 run on Doom Patrol.
While this is a feather in the cap of ComiXology, some fear it could be a nail in the coffin for the already troubled print comics market. Small brick-and-mortar comic shops have already suffered heavy losses as more and more casual readers go digital. This leaves them with a dwindling base of customers who prefer monthly periodicals and a book in their hand to reading collected editions on a screen. With DC Comics now offering so many of their classic works through a subscription service, there are fears that the friendly local comic book shop could go the way of the soda jerk and the five-and-dime.
Thankfully, these fears seem largely unjustified. The same arguments have been made for years about public libraries killing book sales, when countless studies have shown that bookstores do better business when they are located close to a library. Amazon was slow to embrace e-sharing programs for the same reasons, but now allows many e-books in Kindle-format to be checked out through libraries. Given that, it seems that the new partnership between DC Comics and comiXology will be a good thing for all involved.
Source: DC Comics/Amazon