On ComiXology and the New 52

David Steinberger answers some of our questions about the New 52, comiXology, and pricing policies.

With the release of DC Comic’s relaunch, the New 52, we’ve seen an unprecedented push towards digital comics. A few weeks ago, I commented on what I felt was a poor pricing strategy on DC’s part regarding the online comics. After seeing my comments, David Steinberger, the CEO of comiXology, DC’s partner for delivering digital comics – along with many other comics publishers – offered me the chance to chat with him about comiXology, its role in the comics industry, and his feelings on the pricing policies.

CB Droege: First, I want to thank you for this opportunity to ask you some questions about comiXology and DC’s New 52, and congratulate ComiXology on what I hear is a great sales success with the issues which have been released so far.

Which of the New 52 lines are you and the comiXology staff most looking forward to?

David Steinberger: With all the anticipation of the New 52, we were the most excited for Justice League #1 to hit because it was the first! Some of us actually stood on line all night for in NYC to get a copy. As a lifelong comic fan, the relaunch is really exciting as we explore new storylines and adventures with some of our favorite superheroes. I’m determined to read all of them.

CBD: What are the advantages for the reader when purchasing a book from comiXology?

DS: There are numerous advantages of purchasing a digital comic through us. We have the best reading experience, best shopping experience and the biggest catalog of content. 

With our buy once, read anywhere platform, you can purchase a comic from Comics by comiXology on your iPhone or iPad, Android or on the Web, and then read it at your convenience on any of those places.

Our Guided View is the gold standard for reading comics on smaller screens. It also works great on larger tablet screens and even computer monitors and have been told by a few users who have hooked it up to their TV, that the comics looks amazing on a 55’ HDTV screen.

CBD: My own favorite feature of comiXology books is that Guided View. Can you tell us a bit about who creates the Guided Views and what kind of work goes into processing the books to work with the technology?

DS: Guided View was our solution to how to read comics (while preserving the entire page) on an iPhone while preserving the timing and storytelling of the creators for our readers. We have digital editors in our office that read every comic and format them panel-by-panel to tell the story, as the creator would have intended for it to be read. That’s right – Guided View is all human-created!

CBD: What do you see as comiXology’s role in the future of the comic book industry?

DS: We are expanding the comics industry by unleashing comics to ensure that anyone who wants to read a comic can, anywhere, at anytime. 

We take our role as spreading the love of comics as far and wide as is possible very seriously. Digital is the growing, bright spot in the comics market right now. If you’re talking about the more distant future, who knows how comics will be created and consumed? But that’s something we think about and believe comiXology will continue to be an important part of that development.

CBD: Does comiXology have a strong user community?

DS: With over 10,000 twitter followers and 4,500 Facebook fans our community has shown us that they want to be engaged. We frequently pose questions and get feedback immediately whether it’s comiXology or industry related from every end of the spectrum.

We also pride ourselves on both fun interaction and customer support that twitter and Facebook have enabled for us. With a quick tweet or post, we can diagnose any problems and solve them in real-time, which a few years ago was unheard of.

CBD: How would you describe the personality of the comiXology community?

DS: Passionate, opinioned, insatiable, friendly and most of all, supportive. With over 14,000 digital comics in our library, ranging from superheroes to the average joe, we have members of our community that cover every niche of the comic industry. We love it because we are constantly discovering and advocating new comics that I personally have not read, but fall in love with because someone recommended it to us. We owe it all to the comic creators who somehow continue to create and inspire us with new content, storylines and out of this world, literally, artwork.

CBD: While most digital media seems to be priced a bit under the hardcopy price, DC’s new digital books are being released at the same price as the hardcopies. How does this effect comiXology’s business?

DS: It hasn’t affected us at all; in fact, we were the #1 top grossing iPad App for all of iTunes last week and have been the top book apps (Comics by comiXology, along with the comiXology-powered DC Comics and Marvel Comics apps) for some time now! Our community has proven that digital comics are the new reading medium of choice.

CBD: When asked, DC has consistently said that the new price is specifically set to make sure that on-ground retailers don’t lose too much business to digital sales. Do you think that digital comics are a threat to comic book stores?

DS: No, we don’t think digital is a threat to comic stores. There is value in having a book the day it comes out, whether digitally or in print. After a month, we lower the price $1 for the New 52. Our Digital Storefront program launched the week before The New 52 so that retailers could be apart of digital sales and profit from it as well.

We are very sensitive to how digital affects print and have seen no impact to comic book stores. In fact, we see digital as a way to expand and grow the comic industry and with The New 52 especially, we have seen new readers who had never bought a comic book in their lives sign-up because they could buy comics on their tablets, smartphones or computer, instantly.

It seems that comiXology is not worried, for their own sake or the sake of the on-ground stores. For those fans perturbed at the high prices, the #1s start to see their discounts today with the lowering of the price of the first week of the New 52. You can pick up all those titles Steinberger mentioned, or just check out how their comics work with some sample comics over at the ComiXology site.

[Guided View is a trademark of comiXology]