ComiXology update stops you from buying comics in the App Store

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ComiXology has long been one of my favorite iOS apps, but I’m not a big fan of the latest update, which makes it impossible to purchase comics from within the app.

For the longest time, ComiXology was the easiest and best way to buy comics on a mobile device. Now the app has become solely a comic book reader: You must visit ComiXology’s website to buy new issues. You can still browse comics in the app, and download free ones, but the actual payment part must be done elsewhere.

Why has ComiXology gone all supervillain on us?

It’s because the App Store demands 30 percent of all in-app purchases and subscriptions. By handling the sales through its website, ComiXology doesn’t have to pay Apple a cut of its profits.

After ComiXology was purchased by Amazon earlier this month, we wondered how the sale would affect users. We now have our answer!

Amazon has long taken a similar approach with its Kindle app for iOS, which also lacks a way to purchase new content.

Since ComiXology was the highest-grossing non-game iPad app of last year, Apple can be none too happy about this.

ComiXology is at least giving loyal customers a $5 gift card to help “ease this transition.”

  • sigzero

    Stupid Amazon asshats.

  • Ben Klaiber

    Last week’s internal Amazon meeting:
    Bezos: “Is there anything we don’t have a monopoly on?”
    Someone: “Digital Comic books…”
    Bezos: “Fix that. Yesterday.”

    • Luke Dormehl

      I like to think there were robot drones involved, a bit like that flying monkeys scene from Wizard of Oz.

  • DigitalBeach

    Dumb

  • Rafterman00

    I see criticism of Amazon, but Apple is the problem here. 30 percent – one third – is extortion.

    • Colin Darby

      Yeah terrible that isn’t it…

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2014/04/02/estimating-kindle-e-book-sales-for-amazon/

      “Additionally, we also know that Amazon gets a 30% cut on sales of most e-books with remaining 70% going to the publisher”

      Don’t let facts get in the way of your anti-Apple bias now…

    • chas_m

      Not really. I take it you have no understanding of how retail works. Running iTunes costs money, handling the the cc, being responsible for the transaction, and providing a convenient marketplace costs money. It cost Comixolgy to build their own store, and it costs Google Play (which also charges 30 percent) to built its own store.

      Comixology has a perfect right not to accept the deal, but that doesn’t make the deal “extortion.” In both the case of Apple and Google, the 30 percent is a bit (not a lot, but a bit) higher than they need to actually run the infrastructure, but they use most of the “excess” to allow free apps to be on the store at no cost (beyond the $99/year developer fee) to the developer providing the free app. IOW, most of the “profit” from that 30 percent subsidizes apps that *cost* the App Store (or Play Store) money.

      The DC and Marvel apps don’t appear to have a problem with paying Apple 30 percent. It strikes me as a fair cut for what they’re providing in the way of access and service, and subsidizes other things I want.

      You may want to talk to the manager of your local grocery store about the cost of manufacture versus distribution, marketing, store infrastructure and yes, profit, and how that affects the price you pay for groceries. Hint: this is how the rest of the world works, only the markups can be (and generally are) way, way higher than 30 percent in most fields.

    • Hardy Thomas

      Indeed.. but still if you see ComiXology was the highest grossing non game app on the store.. Which means the model still worked wonders for them.

    • Ben Klaiber

      Amazon takes 30%. So does Google.

      There’s nothing extortionist about paying the company that almost single handedly created the whole digital tablet platform that brought the comics industry back from the brink the same cut publishers used to pay distributers like Diamond to reach comic stores.

  • gregorvogt

    Someone found the perfect words for this: The apps’s not pinin’! The apps’s passed on! This app is no more! it has ceased to be! The apps’s expired and gone to meet its maker! The apps’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now ‘istory! It’s off the twig! it’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off ‘ts mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-APP!

  • JediRebelScum

    If DC would go the route that Marvel did with their own app, I could care less about this.

    But since that is not the case, and since I use iTunes credit to buy my comics, guess my days of comic reading are done. I don’t like Amazon, I didn’t like this deal, I don’t like the idea that no one has made something else like ComiXology, and now IOS users suffer.

    My days of comics are done.

  • Ben

    Anyone having trouble restoring purchases through old Comixology app? It accepts the iTunes account password – then does nothing. Tried reinstalling the app, delinking the accounts but no dice.

  • http://www.feastofbeast.com DJBabyBuster

    Am I missing how its any more difficult to purchase comics through their website than the app? Its not like you can’t login to their site on your phone just as easily as the app; I imagine they’ll save your credit card info or use paypal? Seems like a smart move on Amazon to cut out the 30% apple fee.

    • JediRebelScum

      You are missing one thing. Many people use iTunes credit to make purchases. Not everyone wants to have their credit card on the net.
      Plus it is more steps now for buying, and making sure everything syncs. It’s a pain.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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