Note: This guide is based on things that are still ongoing. It will be updated as soon as more information comes to light.
Comixology started as an online community for comic book readers in 2007 and grew to become the one-stop shop for digital comics. Through that time, it went on to have the largest selection of comics, graphic novels, and manga from a wide range of publishers and indie creators. It was also an innovator in the reading experience, making it easy to read purchases over multiple devices with a range of purpose-built tools. It’s no wonder that Amazon acquired it in 2014.
Ever since that acquisition, there was always a chance that Comixology could be incorporated into the Amazon ecosystem. That’s what’s happening this week. The dedicated Comxiology website is closing down, with the digital comics purchasing experience moving over to Amazon.
What does that mean for you? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this change and what you will need to do differently going forward.
Why is Amazon doing this?
From a business perspective, I can understand why the digital comics wing of Amazon would be integrated into the larger Amazon ecosystem. Previously, Comixology sats as a niche silo, mostly known to the comics community. By having digital comics integrated into Amazon.com, there’s a greater chance of exposure to a new audience. This would a financial benefit for this too and we know how much Amazon loves money.
From a behind the scenes perspective, Comixology was a completely different codebases to the Kindle and Amazon ecosystem. While it was a thing of beauty, the company has admitted that it was a lot of work to maintain. Having one codebase makes everything a lot easier for developers.
When will Comixology close down?
Comixology.com closed down on the 17th of February.
Where do I go for my digital comics?
The Comixology domain redirects* to the new Amazon comics homepage.
At the moment, there are homepages for Amazon US and Amazon UK. Regions outside the US and UK don’t have a dedicated homepage for digital comics. Instead, you’ll need to browse the Comics & Graphic Novels category under the Kindle eBooks section of your local version of Amazon. This includes the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, and Japan. These regions will likely get a dedicated comics page eventually.
You will need to have an Amazon account or merge your existing Comixology account to purchase digital comics.
*All Comixology links, whether it is the homepage or to a specific issues, collection, or series redirects to the Amazon comics homepage. This very site has thousands of links to Comixology items that will need to be changed over to create a better experience. It will eventually be done but will take some time.
What will happen to my purchases?
All of your Comixology purchases will carry over once you have merged your account with Amazon. Once that’s done, all of your Comixlogy and Kindle comics purchases will be in one place.
One thing that I haven’t seen confirmed is the ability to read comics that have been delisted. In the past, you would be able to read any comic you had previously purchased, even if it had later been removed for purchase*. Please let me know in the comments below if you know the answer.
*This often happens when a publisher loses the license to a property – for example, IDW losing Ghostbusters.
Will DRM-free comics still be an option?
For some publishers and releases, Comixology offered the option for readers to download a DRM-free backup (PDF or CBZ format) of their purchases. With the move of Comixology into Amazon, this option will become limited to eligible comics purchased in the Comixology ecosystem.
You can access and download DRM-free backups by going to the Comixology account settings page on Amazon. From there, click on “View your Comixology books” and then go to “Backups”.
Comics purchased through Amazon or the new Comixology app (see more about that below) will not offer this option. You will have to read these purchases through one of Amazon’s reading apps or devices.
What about my subscriptions?
The subscription option gave users the chance to subscribe to a series and be charged automatically when a new issue came out. It was great for the forgetful and those who didn’t want to keep track of release dates. Unfortunately, this feature is no longer be available for those outside of the US.
The subscription option will only be available for Amazon US. Everyone else will need to use the “Follow” feature. This will give you an update when a new issue is released.
Comixology/Amazon communicated on the 1st of February that subscriptions will carry over to Amazon under certain circumstances. Your subscriptions will continue as usual if you have set up 1-Click payment on your Amazon account before the 10th of February. Amazon will email you when the subscribed series has moved over.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to manually set up your subscriptions again in the Amazon ecosystem if you didn’t set up 1-Click payment in time.
While it’s too late to set up 1-Click payments to have your subscriptions move across, you’ll need to activate the option if you want to subscribe to a series later down the track. Here are Amazon’s instructions on how to set it up.
What will happen to my pre-orders?
ComiXology will fulfil any pre-orders for release dates up to the 16th of February. Anything that has a release date after that will be cancelled. Amazon will contact you by email if your pre-order has been cancelled.
If you want to pre-order through the Amazon ecosystem for any future pre-orders of digital comics.
What will happen with the app?
There will be an updated app when Comixology moves over to Amazon. Version 4.0 will have new features, including:
- Flexible filtering and sorting
- New book navigation features
- Instant reading on Android devices
- Integrations with Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading
- Comics bought through Kindle can be read on the app now
- The app will be faster
- More reliable downloads
However, it appears that some power-user features will not be present straight away. The “Smart Lists” feature and the ability to archive books will not be available at launch.
It’s also worth noting you will need to merge your Comixology account with an Amazon account to use the app.
Early impressions of the new app show that elements of Comixology’s excellent reading experience are no longer present. Instead, it’s closer the Kindle experience and less than ideal. Hopefully, this is a short-term pain and we see something closer to Comixology in future iterations.
As was the case before, not everyone will have access to the store through the app.
iOS users will still need to continue make purchases outside of the app first. (This is in relation to a dispute that Amazon has with Apple over in-app purchases.)
Android users will have access to the store through the app. However, there’s a catch. If not all country equivalents of Amazon (eg Australia or India) are not supported yet in the app. For US and UK customers, this won’t be an issue, but for everyone else it requires making purchases outside of the app. Don’t worry though, you will be able to read those comics no matter which version of Amazon you purchased them from in the app.
1st June Update: Comixology has announced that with version 4.0.1 the ability to purchase within the app will be removed. The decision stems from a dispute between Amazon and the Google Play Store around payment channels for in-app purchases.
Potential App issues
It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to use the old app. If you boot up the old version, it will prompt you to install the new version before you can use it.
Will I still be able to read comics on my desktop?
Yes. However, it appears that the reading experience on desktop is not ideal at the moment. This is because the software being used is purpose made for Kindle books and misses features that Comixology had that enhanced the reading experience.
Bleeding Cool dug into this issue deeper here.
Comixology/Amazon has acknowledged that reading experience requires some work. Hopefully, this will only be a temporary headache for those who prefer to read on desktop.
16th June 2022 update: Improvements to the desktop reading experience are on the way. These will include better support to two-page spreads, zooming options, and vertical scrolling. Guided view is still not available.
Can I read digital comics on a Kindle or the Kindle App?
Yes, you can. However, you will need to enable the feature to use it. You can find the instructions here.
According to Comixology/Amazon, the reading experience will be the same.
I have Comixology eGift cards. Will I still be able to use them?
Comixology eGift cards were retired in late 2021. Comixology reached out via email last year to users who have Comixology eGift cards or account credit. Find out more about this change on the dedicated FAQ page.
What will happen to Comixology Unlimited?
Comixology Unlimited, the all you can read subscription service, will continue.
Will the experience get any better?
This is where I put my editorial hat on for a moment.
If you work in tech or worked closely with a developer, you’re likely to be aware of the term “minimum viable product” or “MVP” for short. For those who’re not aware of it, it’s essentially a methodology that means launching a service or software with just enough features to make it useable to the public. It avoids development hell, with the priority becoming adding new features over time after launch.
Comixology’s absorption into Amazon feels a lot like a minimum viable product. Instead of adding every existing feature, they’ve kept the essentials and pushed it out to the public. Unfortunately, this creates headaches for readers in the short to mid-term. They’ll have to change how they interact with digital comics and go without some features for a while.
Here’s hoping that Amazon takes readers feedback seriously. By doing so, they can make the necessary changes to not only match what made Comixology great but build upon it for years to come.
As a site that’s primary focus is expanding the comics readership, I have to also look at the potential benefits. This will grow the comics readership via greater exposure to digital comics in the Amazon ecosystem. It’s just a shame that Comixology has to go – especially since it wasn’t broken to begin with.
This section will cover Comixology’s communication on the transition of ecosystems and the new app. I’ll update it any time there’s news on a new/returning features.
24th February Update: Comixology has tweeted out acknowledgment that the transition has been “far from seamless”. At the same time they addressed some issues and hinted at some new features that will coming in future iterations of the comics purchasing and reading experience. This includes an update to the Fire OS app, updates to the New Releases filter on the web and app.
1st June Update: Comixology are removing in-app purchasing in the Android app.
16th June Update: Comixology has tweeted about some upcoming updates. Filtering options in the Kindle app have been improved, better search results will be coming in the store, and updates to the desktop experience have been made.
What are the alternatives?
While Comixology had a monopoly on digital comics, it’s not the only option. As described in this piece, there are a range of other options such as going directly through the publisher and the Humble Bundle.