comiXology, the digital comics distributor, has come through on its promise to allow retailers to benefit from sales of digital comics.
Today, the company announced its Digital Storefront Affiliate program, which will give brick-and-mortar retailers the opportunity to offer digital comics to their customers on their own websites -- and share in proceeds from the sales.
"Retailers have been very concerned about not being able to be part of the digital addition to the market. We think that giving retailers the opportunity to sell to their customers online digitally is really important, and we're in a great position to help them do that," said comiXology CEO David Steinberger. "We have relationships with many retailers already. And this is just a great opportunity for both retailers and publishers to continue to expand and profit in terms of digital comic books together."
All digital purchases made on a retail store's website will be compatible with the Comics by comiXology platform on their website and various mobile devices.
"Phase One is just like having your own comics.comixology.com on your retailer website," Steinberger explained. "And the retailers will get a portion of the sale."
comiXology has not announced what publishers are participating in the Affiliate Storefront Program, but DC Comics has frequently indicated that it was working on an affiliate program for retailers.
This move could help alleviate growing concerns from retailers who see digital comics as a threat to the print industry on which they thrive.
But Steinberger emphasized that his company's research shows the digital marketplace doesn't steal from the print market. In fact, comiXology has always included a prompt at the end of its digital comics for readers to find their local comic shop so they can by the book in print.
"All evidence we have so far is that digital is an additive market, meaning it's adding to the comic marketplace and not stealing away customers," he said.
For now, the each retailer's "storefront" will be pretty standard, but the plan is to eventually allow comic shop owners the ability to customize their digital store.
"The flexibility of the program is going to improve over time," Steinberger said. "Initially, it's probably not going to be too flexible. We don't know if it's going to always be what we're featuring or not. But eventually, as we roll this out and as the affiliate program matures, we see this getting very deeply integrated and retailers being able to take full control what they want to feature and what's appropriate for their customers."
comiXology already works with retailers through its online Retailing Tools service, which maintains pull lists and assists in customer communication. But Steinberger said the Affiliate Storefront Program will not require retailers to be customers on any other comiXology programs. "They do not have to be paying or registered customers of comiXology already," he said. "This is open to all retailers."
comiXology recently announced a strategic agreement with ICv2 to provide customer support for all comiXology’s retail initiatives, including its Retailer Tools and the Digital Storefront Affiliate program. Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2, Steinberger, and comiXology CTO and co-founder John Roberts will demo the Digital Storefront Affiliate program at the upcoming ComicsPRO conference in February.
"There's a demo room at ComicsPRO, and we'll be set up in the demo room," Steinberger said. "We are a sponsor of the ComicsPRO conference. We'll be around at all the meals, and we'll probably be on some panels, but pretty much full-time on Friday and Saturday, we'll be set up with a full screen in the demo room, able to show not only the retailer storefront affiliate program but also the more sweeping print and pull list tools that are available to our customers."
To sign up for the affiliate program, retailers should fill out the online form on the comiXology website.