ComiXology Announces Authoring Beta to Increase Digital Comic Diversity

ComiXology is currently the leading digital comic distributor. They have the most titles, the best software (I’m told), and the most active press team. They’re also the most responsive. (Except when it comes to getting out an Android version of their application, but that’s my personal bugaboo.) So it shouldn’t be surprising that most publishers want to be part of their comics app.

A while back, there were rumblings that smaller publishers couldn’t get their comics released on ComiXology in a timely fashion because the company was paying more attention to DC and Marvel. Every comic has to be reformatted and processed for ComiXology’s Guided View, you see, so it’s not as simple as just giving them files. To respond to that bottleneck, ComiXology has announced that they will be piloting a program to allow publishers to do that work themselves. The stated goal is to

help level the playing field by giving independent creators and publishers an equal chance for visibility in the digital marketplace through a standard format and ubiquitous platform. … Said David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology, “The Guided View Authoring Tools is the first piece of a larger program that will benefit creators and publishers who either are unknown, have limited print distribution through Diamond or have an older property that won’t get the shelf space it deserves.”

Heidi got some stats from Steinberger: “they get four or five submissions a day from publishers wanting to be carried on their store” and they’ve “gone from launching 80 comics the week of May 1st to 204 this week.”

To signup for the authoring beta, publishers submit that web form and hope to be selected. (Hint: Don’t use IE8.) The program won’t start until next year, and it remains to be seen if this allows for faster releases, since there are a number of questions remaining: How will the companies be compensated for doing this programming work themselves? Will that change the revenue split? How easy are the tools to use? (Will there suddenly be a jump in job openings for app developers at comic companies?) Will there be other holdups (approvals, for example) before comics can be released? Is ComiXology ready to handle the flood of submissions from self-publishers who see online comic distribution as a way around Diamond and comic shop gatekeepers? Will a ComiXology app stuffed to the gills with more comics be easy to navigate, and will customers be able to find the titles they’re looking for? These certainly are interesting times.

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