Comixology has just rolled out Version 4.0 of its digital comics app, and it's safe to say readers aren't happy with the update. Social media has become flooded with complaints about the revamped interface, the loss of crucial features and, in some cases, users discovering portions of their library have gone missing. This supposed "upgrade" is a huge step backwards for Comixology and the digital comics market as a whole.
Why is Comixology 4.0 so reviled, and what motivated the company to issue such sweeping changes in the first place? Comixology's parent company Amazon seems to be the culprit here.
Comixology's History With Amazon
The current Comixology controversy is essentially the end result of the company being acquired by Amazon in 2014. Up till now, Comixology had existed as a largely independent entity under the Amazon umbrella. Users had the option to link their Comixology and Amazon accounts (thereby enabling comics purchased on Amazon's Kindle Store to transfer over to Comixology), but for the most part the reading experience didn't fundamentally change compared to the pre-Amazon days.
The same can't be said with the new update. In recent months, Comixology had been teasing an upgraded app and website that would be more fundamentally linked to the Amazon ecosystem. Earlier in February, a Comixology email announced to subscribers, "We are excited to announce that the team-up with Amazon is launching soon. Upon launch, comixology.com will redirect to the comics shopping experience on Amazon and the updated Comixology app will launch."
It's easy enough to understand Amazon's rationale here. For the past seven years, they've been supporting two separate digital comics storefronts in Comixology and Kindle Comics. Why not simplify things and save money by consolidating the two services into one? A sensible plan, but Amazon's first mistake seems to have been prioritizing its Kindle ecosystem over that of Comixology.
Why Comixology 4.0 Is a Huge Downgrade
Despite Comixology's promise that "the best digital comics reading experience isn't going anywhere," the new incarnation is a downgrade in pretty much every respect. Users accustomed to reading their Comixology libraries on a desktop have been hit especially hard by the update. The Comixology website itself is gone now, replaced by a dedicated storefront within Amazon.com. Here's a taste of what users are greeted to when they login now:
This interface isn't unattractive, but it's not particularly helpful in terms of directing users to specific areas of the site. In fact, the new site is so preoccupied with showcasing the latest and greatest Comixology Unlimited titles that it gives absolutely zero indication of how to access and read the books in your library. Once you figure out you have to hop over to the Kindle Cloud Reader, that's when the real problems begin.
It quickly becomes clear that the Kindle reader was designed for prose books first and comics not at all. All the basic functions of the original Comixology reader, like zooming and Guided View, are gone now. The reader is completely incapable of handling double-page spreads, instead merely cramming both pages into one cramped, portrait-oriented display. Fandom's Amy Dallen pointed out just how badly this can ruin the reading experience when it comes to artists like Batwoman's J.H. Williams III who specialize in double-page spreads and the widescreen format:
— Amy Dallen (@enthusiamy) February 12, 2022
This is a disaster. Comixology's reader is going away, so as of next week here are my options to read comics on desktop. There is no two-page view. There is no zoom. I have not altered these pictures aside from markup.
Witness the work of the great J. H. Williams III. pic.twitter.com/8rFzaOSO16
Compared to the relatively straightforward and presentable interface of the Comixology website, this cloud reader is an exercise in frustration. As Dallen illustrates above, some comics are simply unreadable in this interface.
The good news is that the actual Comixology app on iOS and Android hasn't been quite so badly affected by the update. The actual, tactile experience of reading comics in the app remains similar to previous versions, with features like zooming and Guided View still intact. At least, that is, for books originally purchased through Comixology. Some users have reported that comics ported over from the Kindle store are still missing that functionality.
And even if the reading experience has mostly survived intact, the app itself has taken a big hit. For one thing, it's noticeably slower and more prone to loading than before, and many users have noted individual books take up significantly more storage space now. The Kindle-inspired interface has become more convoluted, not to mention missing some of the organization features readers are accustomed to by now. The greater level of library customization and organization promised by Comixology has yet to materialize.
Reading comics through the Comixology app is still a far better experience than relying on the website/cloud reader. But what about users who either physically can't or don't want to use a tablet rather than a computer monitor? And don't forget that iOS users are still tethered to the website regardless. This update hasn't addressed what many would consider to be the greatest flaw of Comixology - the fact that you can't actually make purchases directly through the iOS app. Much like how Apple and Epic Games have been feuding over Fortnite, Amazon flatly refuses to allow Apple a cut of their digital comics sales. That means more hurdles for the end user.
This doesn't even get into the myriad other problems that have been reported in recent days, whether it's the numerous users who are suddenly missing significant portions of their libraries or the fact that it's apparently no longer possible for users outside of the US to subscribe to titles. Using Comixology is now a demonstrably worse experience in just about every way.
Comixology's Failure Is Bad For Everyone
This disastrous rollout wouldn't be quite as concerning if there were more direct alternatives to Comixology in the comics industry. But when it comes to apps that include just about all major publishers and allow users to directly purchase books rather than pay monthly subscription fees, Comixology is essentially the only game in town.
Worse, it's not as though users have the option to simply pack up their libraries and move to a different service regardless. Just like Kindle books, most Comixology titles are restricted by DRM and can't be accessed outside that ecosystem. Moving to a different service means leaving all those purchases behind.
The appeal of Comixology and other digital comics services has always been convenience. There's a lot to be said for having access to an entire library of comics at the press of a button, not to mention not having to deal with the hassle of storing hundreds or thousands of physical comics. Once that convenience is taken out of the equation, what incentive do readers have to keep reading digitally? Digital comics are generally priced the same as their physical counterparts, so it's not as if cost is a factor.
With all the new headaches introduced in this update, it's enough to wonder how many comic book readers will become fed up and pivot to buying physical comics instead. Or worse, how many will start downloading pirated versions of Comixology books? Piracy has long been a thorn in the side of the comics industry, and the best way to combat it is to offer would-be downloaders a superior product. Comixology 4.0 is not that product.
Given how heavily Comixology dominates the digital comics marketplace, there's reason to be concerned about how this update will affect the industry as a whole. According to an in-depth analysis from ICv2's Milton Griepp and Comichron's John Jackson Miller, digital comics sales were "turbocharged" in 2020, accounting for a far greater percentage of industry revenue than in previous years.
The pandemic hasn't been kind to comic shops, but it has led to a new influx of digital comics readers. How many of those new readers will be turned away by Comixology's clunky, confusing new interface? How many publishers and creators will see a loss in revenue as a result? What will 2022's industry breakdown look like as a result of Comixology 4.0?
Even actor Patton Oswalt has joined the chorus of voices criticizing Comixology 4.0, begging the company to "just switch it back" on Twitter.
Guys, just switch it back. You can do it. C'mon. Switch it back and no hard feelings. https://t.co/kcWNBzU0A5— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 18, 2022
It's probably too much to hope that Amazon will simply hit a reset button and restore the pre-4.0 version of Comixology. As a massive company for whom digital comics is a small drop in the bucket, Amazon may simply be satisfied that it's no longer maintaining two comics marketplaces. But we can hope that the seemingly universal backlash to the new app will influence the company to make changes and rebuild the Comixology interface from the ground up. Barring that, maybe a new company will emerge to do what Comixology no longer can.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.
Are they going to fix ComiXology? ›
Although Amazon acquired ComiXology in 2013, it only completed its merging in February 2022, when it incorporated ComiXology into the Kindle ecosystem. However, the changes that the merger brought about also sparked anger among ComiXology users. Amazon says it plans to fix ComiXology.Why is ComiXology gone? ›
When Amazon merged its digital comics platform ComiXology into the primary Amazon.com web presence earlier this year, what was intended as the solution to one problem – how to bring ComiXology in line with the larger Amazon apparatus – ended up creating another, by destabilizing the digital comics landscape as it ...Does ComiXology still work? ›
Overall, comiXology is still has an extremely long way to go if it wants to be anywhere near as usable as it was before February. I'm lucky that I'm able to get physical copies and use other apps to read my comics, as I don't think I'd enjoy reading comics if this is what I had to do.How good is ComiXology? ›
Comixology has an excellent Guided View mode that makes reading a pleasure on small devices, digital comics that release on the same day as print editions, high-definition comic book files that render stunningly on HD displays, and an Unlimited reading plan that could potentially save you a lot of dough.What can I use instead of ComiXology? ›
- DC Universe Infinite.
- Marvel Unlimited.
- Humble Bundle.
- Hoopla Digital.
As as of June 30, 2022, the apps are no longer available for customers, which means you are no longer able to access, read, or re-download previous purchases. If you've already connected and synced your library with your Amazon account, you can continue reading all your comics from the Comixology app.Is Kindle or ComiXology better? ›
If you just want to read comics, and manga then Comixlogy Unlimited is the better option for you. Their selection is larger and it's cheaper. However, if you want to have access to a wider range of materials, including books and magazines, then Kindle Unlimited may be the better choice.Does Amazon Prime give you free ComiXology? ›
ComiXology comes included with Amazon Prime — just like Prime Video and Amazon Music Unlimited — for the same $12.99 a month. A ComiXology account made through Amazon Prime gives you access to ComiXology Originals — comics, books, and manga exclusive to paying customers.What percentage does ComiXology take? ›
After the mobile distributors are paid their fee of 30%, comiXology splits the remaining revenue 50/50 with the comic's publisher – meaning comiXology gets 35% of the cover price and the publisher and creative team gets the remaining 35%.Should I get ComiXology or Marvel Unlimited? ›
Marvel Unlimited's catalog is simply way better than that of Comixology; you'll get to read many titles you wouldn't have thought possible to buy. Plus, you'll get exclusive benefits you can't find in Comixology.
What happened to my old ComiXology account? ›
This means all previous purchases made on Comixology will now be listed in your Amazon purchase history alongside Kindle books. Users must merge their Comixology account with their Amazon account to sign in to the new app.How does ComiXology make money? ›
In terms of money, ComiXology will take a 50 percent cut of revenue on each comic purchase, after platform fees. (For instance, Apple takes 30 percent of all sales made through the App Store, leaving 35 percent each for ComiXology and the book's creator.)What is the best comic book subscription service? ›
- Comic Mystery Box. From $31.00 per box. ...
- ComicBoxer for U.S. Customers. From $17.99 per box. ...
- The Heroes Tower Mini Mystery Box. From $16.00 per box. ...
- Comics Fan Box. From $23.95 per box. ...
- Comic Crate. From $27.42 per box. ...
- Mondo Size. From $18.33 per box.
How Do I Read Digital Comics? Tablets are the best way to read your favorite titles due to their comc book-like dimensions, but smartphones and web browsers can do the job, too. Fortunately, there are many free and paid desktop, Android and iPad digital comic book readers.Can you read ComiXology offline? ›
Yes you can download them to your device. Yes, you can download them to your device.What can I use instead of ComiXology for free? ›
The best alternative is Tachiyomi, which is both free and Open Source. Other great apps like ComiXology are Evince, HoneyView, YACReader and Qoppa PDF Studio. ComiXology alternatives are mainly Comic and Manga Readers but may also be Image Viewers or PDF Readers.What should I read on ComiXology? ›
- Dark Web Finale (2023) #1 (Dark Web (2022))
- Dragon Age: The Missing #1.
- Thor (2020-) #30.
- Magic Order 4 #1 (The Magic Order)
- Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery: A Graphic Novel (The Baby-sitters Club #13) (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphix)
- Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-) #28.
- Immortal X-Men (2022-) #10.
In late 2014, Amazon acquired ComiXology for an undisclosed sum, which The Motley Fool argued was at attempt to control the comic book market after Amazon Publishing's Jet City Comics imprint failed to achieve major market share after its July 2013 launch.How do you read full books on ComiXology? ›
While you can't download every comic in ComiXology to your computer, you can read them in the web app on the site. Just go to the "My Books" section and click the "Read" button.How do you read full comics on ComiXology? ›
Your Comixology comics, graphic novels and manga won't appear by default on your E-reader devices. If you want to read one on those devices, you can head to your Content and Devices page, select the book, and choose to Deliver the book to your registered Devices.
Is Amazon going to fix ComiXology? ›
After making it worse, Amazon has plans to fix Comixology.Does Kindle Unlimited give you access to ComiXology? ›
On Kindle Unlimited, there are only 5,000 titles available, including ComiXology Originals comics. In a nutshell, Prime Reading, Kindle Unlimited, and ComiXology now share the same services/apps.How much is Kindle Unlimited ComiXology? ›
Once you've joined Comixology Unlimited (CU), you can read the full selection of content available here on both Comixology and Amazon. When signing up for the first time, the first 30 days are FREE. After that you'll be charged 5.99/mo.Is Amazon unlimited books free with Prime? ›
Want more reading options? Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that offers readers access to more than 1 million books, as well as magazines, audiobooks, and short stories, for $9.99 a month. This option is not included with your Prime membership, but it's a great way to up your reading game.What is the best way to read DC Comics online? ›
You can continue to read your DC Digital Comics library and purchase digital comics and collections on the DC Comics app and www.comixology.com. To do this, just download the DC Comics app and sign in using the account that you were using at ReadDC.com. Then you can read all of your books!How does ComiXology work now? ›
ComiXology Unlimited allows you to read freely from thousands of titles, including comic books, graphic novels & manga. ComiXology Unlimited is available for $5.99 a month and you can cancel anytime. Use your Amazon account to borrow up to 50 eligible comiXolgy Unlimited titles at a time.What happened to ComiXology Unlimited? ›
The update shuttered ComiXology's website, and the URL is now being redirected to a local subsite on Amazon. To continue using ComiXology, long-time customers are required to link their accounts to Amazon. Amazon also integrated its existing services to ComiXology, which made lines blurry.Can I refund ComiXology? ›
The membership fees for comiXology Unlimited are stated in our Help pages. From time to time, we may offer different membership terms, and the fees for such membership may vary. Membership fees may be subject to tax and are non-refundable except as expressly set forth in these Terms.Which is better Kindle or ComiXology? ›
If you just want to read comics, and manga then Comixlogy Unlimited is the better option for you. Their selection is larger and it's cheaper. However, if you want to have access to a wider range of materials, including books and magazines, then Kindle Unlimited may be the better choice.What is the cost of ComiXology Unlimited? ›
Once you've joined Comixology Unlimited (CU), you can read the full selection of content available here on both Comixology and Amazon. When signing up for the first time, the first 30 days are FREE. After that you'll be charged 5.99/mo.
What is the best app to read Marvel comics for free? ›
Perfect Viewer is an app that's only available for Android users. It takes full advantage of the hardware optimisation and delivers a reading experience like no other.