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Amazon’s overhaul of Comixology ignites concern from comic creators and readers

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Recent updates have made it harder to read, shop, and publish on the US’ most popular digital comics platform

amazon logo Image: Leon Meal/Getty Images

This week Amazon, launched a new app for its digital comics platform, Comixology, and a new Amazon-native online storefront that will eventually replace Comixology’s browser-based store and reader. But the new changes have alarmed both users and creators.

Long-time Comixology users have taken to social media to list all the ways the new web and app user experience represents a step backward from what they’re used to. Chief among the many complaints is a new web reader that doesn’t display double page spreads correctly, has removed creator credits from book listings on the storefront, and lacks both panel-by-panel and zoom functions, rendering most comics in illegibly small images.

When Amazon bought Comixology in 2014, it largely left the digital comics giant alone, other than eliminating in-app purchases on the platform. Comixology is unrivaled in its space, to the point of holding a near monopoly on access to digital comics from American publishers — it’s the primary digital store for the likes of Image Comics, BOOM Studios, and more.

The new changes have comics creators meeting the service half way as well. British artist Jamie McKelvie flagged to his followers on Twitter that under Amazon’s new changes, series subscriptions — in which digital comics are automatically purchased upon release — will only be available to Comixology users based in the U.S.. Users outside the U.S. will have their existing subscriptions switched off automatically, apparently permanently.

Smaller creators are also struggling with the recent closure of the Comixology Submit program in favor of Amazon’s own Kindle Direct Publishing, a service designed to self-publish prose eBooks. Kindle Direct requires creators to manually format all the transitions between panels, and any comics already published through Comixology Submit were not grandfathered into Kindle Direct. Small publishers must re-upload and reformat their existing Comixology back catalog in order to make them available on the new site and app. Kindle Direct Publishing also reportedly offers fewer royalties to creators than Comixology Submit, a 65/35 split rather than 50/50.

Polygon reached out to Amazon and ComiXology for comment on the new ComiXology online and app experience, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

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