For the third time in three years, the digital-comics app Comics by comiXology was the top grossing non-game app for the iPad. This comes as no surprise, as it is often at the top of the charts on Wednesdays, when new comics are out. Rachel Edidin has a great piece about it on Wired’s Underwire blog, in which she interviews comiXology CEO David Steinberger.
ComiXology has truly been a game-changer: Not only is it the dominant digital comics app, it has actually been bringing new readers to comics, not just to digital but to print as well:
Of the 20 percent of ComiXology customers who bought their first comics online in the last quarter 2013, 64 percent have begun buying print comics as well.
That’s pretty impressive. ComiXology was founded in 2007 and launched the Comics app as an iPhone app in 2009. I spoke to Steinberger shortly after the launch, and he was pretty excited that comiXology could offer 100 comics, with 40 more in the queue, and that readers could buy them in-app rather than having each comic be a separate app, which had been the paradigm up till then. And from the very beginning, comiXology was promoting brick-and-mortar stores, with a built-in comic shop locator and an affiliate program. Also, at the time of the interview, the app cost 99 cents to download (being an early adopter, I paid for it) and it was the top selling book app in the iTunes Store.
Not even five years later, comiXology has a library of over 45,000 comics from 75 different publishers, and they announced this week that they have downloaded over 6 billion pages of comics—4 billion pages in the past year alone. That looks like exponential growth, but it’s interesting that they have switched from the number of comics, which is what they usually talk about, to pages: In September they announced that they had reached 200 million downloads. But maybe they just thought 6 billion was a more impressive number.
Whatever. The fact is that just a couple of years ago the single-issue comics market was looking dire. ComiXology has managed to not only sell a lot of comics but also bring more readers into (or back to) comics, thus growing the overall market, print as well as digital, and they have also promoted independent and emerging creators via their ComiXology Submit program. That’s not a bad set of accomplishments to rack up in less than five years.