DC COMICS Joins comiXology's Retailer Affiliate Program

DIGITAL Comics Through RETAIL Stores?

DC Comics has joined comiXology in its "affiliate" program to give retailers a way to benefit from the sales of digital comics.

"We already had some great publishers involved, but with the addition of DC Comics, the Digital Storefront Affiliate Program gives retailers the ability to sell even more comics to their customers," said David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology.

Announced by comiXology today just prior to Chicago's C2E2 convention, the addition of DC Comics brings added benefit to the distributor's Digital Storefront Affiliate program, which gives brick-and-mortar retailers the opportunity to offer digital comics to their customers on their own websites — and share in proceeds from the sales.

comiXology's retailer affiliate program was announced in January, and soon after, comics distributor Diamond Comics announced it would enter the digital marketplace by teaming with iVerse to sell "redemption codes" over the counter at comic shops.

"We think people tend to purchase and read digital stuff in digital form. So we're going with the websites first rather than in-store purchases," Steinberger said. "And the other big difference is that we have DC Comics, which shows a really great strength that the retailers can depend on."

This move to add DC to the retailer affiliate program also further establishes DC Comics as one of comiXology's leading partners, since DC also appears on the distributor's apps for Android and the web. Marvel does not work with comiXology on those apps, but does sell comics through the distributor's iOS stores. comiXology also runs the stand-alone iOS apps for both Marvel and DC.

The comiXology retailer affiliate program will begin as a standard digital "storefront" that retailers can use on their own websites. But the next stage of comiXology's plan is to give comic shop owners the ability to customize their storefront and further blend it into their own print sales.

"The storefront retailers can utilize, for now, will function much like the existing Comics by comiXology webstore. With the addition of DC Comics, it's also possible that, if a retailer wants to do it, they can have a DC-only store on their website," Steinberger said. "But we're hoping that eventually we can integrate more with what we're calling our 'website in a box,' so they can mingle digital and print comic purchases together on the same site."

Since the company first launched an app on Apple's mobile operating system, iOS, in 2009, comiXology has emerged as a digital comics distribution leader, working with both Marvel and DC on various e-reader devices and the web. Most recently, the company launched a "beta" version of Comics by comiXology for Android.

According to Steinberger, the company is concentrating on those three areas for now: iOS, Android and the internet. But that could change.

"We're constantly looking at the markets and devices, and what can really handle the resolution and power it takes to have a quality reading experience with comics," Steinberger said. "There are some other devices out there — for instance webOS or Windows mobile 7, but the number of devices those guys have sold are minimal. Until we see that there is a market there, we're going to continue to spend our resources and money on putting great content onto the devices that a lot of consumers own."

Steinberger said the Android version of Comics by comiXology is still in the beta stage because the purchase process has been a struggle.

"We had some trouble for awhile because we use Paypal's in-app purchases and it's been awful, to be honest," Steinberger said. "We hit a whole period of four to six weeks where it wasn't functioning at all. So thank God we were in beta. Google announced that they were going to have in-app purchases. We think that would be a really great thing to have in our final version. Paypal still has some issues to work out with their library for in-app purchases, and until they have it settled, we're not feeling good about calling it a final product.

"At the moment, we're still calling ourselves beta," he added. "But it's fully functioning and working quite well now. If you buy on the web, you can see things on your Android device or iPhone or iPad."

The company is also moving forward with its Guided View Authoring Tools program, which is still in alpha stage. The tools give publishers and creators the tool-set to prepare their comics for comiXology's format. The alpha stage, which was announced in November, includes only a few small publishers in order to test the process.

"We've had a lot of great feedback from the alpha testers. We have one major, major publisher that I can't name who uses them full-time," Steinberger said. "And we have a few small publishers like Tokyo Pop that are using them."

Some creators have recently voiced a desire to put more creator-owned, self-published products on digital devices, and Steinberger said he's hoping the "Tools" program can be expanded to encourage that type of creativity.

"We hope the whole project will be out in the spring, but this is tech and everything takes longer than you think," he said.

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