I am really annoyed with the Comixology situation. Chiefly, because I actually used the damn thing, it was also easy, and it reduced physical clutter. Now, it’s less easy, but it does still reduce physical clutter. In theory, this should just make me shrug. (Anyone that doesn’t read comics is already shrugging.) In reality, I am irritated and annoyed with how all of this has transpired. I harbor no serious ill-will toward them, but they handled this in just about the worst way they could. I despise when corporate entities use the English language in inventive email communications to their customers in a pitiful attempt to mask the truth of the situation. I despised it when Dropbox wheeled out their corporateese email about arbitration, and I despise it when Comixology word-ballooned out their email.
“Dear Comics Enthusiast” — Yup, that’s me! No other words could more perfectly describe me as a human being.
“We have introduced a new comiXology [sic] iPhone and iPad Comics app,” — That’s nice, but it just auto-updates all slick, and easy unless—
“and we are retiring the old one.” — But WHY? Just update it, that’s easy!
“All your purchased books will be readable in the new app once you’ve downloaded it and taken the following steps:” — What the shit is this? I have homework? I need to do something that is not FOR me, it is FOR you?
“In the original Comics app, log in to your comiXology [sic] account.” — Hold on, is this before, or after I turn on the iPad?
“Sync your in-app purchases to your comiXology [sic] account by tapping the Restore button on the Purchases tab.” — Uh, again, why?
“Download the new comiXology [sic] app. This will be your new home for downloading and reading comics.” — Why? Why not auto-update my app? What’s so great about this new app?
“Start shopping on comiXology.com. New purchases will appear in the ‘In Cloud’ tab in our new app.” — What the hell is the matter with your people?! I have to do work for you to get an app that’s worse than my current app? I have to have a terrible customer experience from now on for some reason you aren’t going to disclose to me? You just leave this as the last fucking bullet point?
“LIMITED-TIME ONLY” banner over something that looks like a plastic credit, or gift card. “We’ve added a $5 comiXology [sic] eGift Card [again with this shitty, random caps] to your account for you to enjoy on comixology.com [lol, they didn’t capitalize the X that time!]! You don’t have to do anything, just shop for your favorite books and graphic novels. Hurry! This eGift Card expires on 5/25/14. Shop Now” — Fuck off. Seriously? A made-up form of compensation that entices me to use your crap system? This once-in-a-lifetime, limited-time offer of five WHOLE dollars is adequate compensation for forever making things worse for me?
I, being a savvy analyst/blogger/twitterer, know that this is to get out of paying Apple 30% of each in-app purchase. Comixology would have to get me to buy about 4 comics to make back the $5 eGift Card. A laughably-termed, intangible, account credit. Why should I feel any gratitude towards them for this eMarketing Act-Now Compensation? Why not just discount all the things? This isn’t fucking Robin Hood, I know they’re not going to give it to me. That just makes this ePatronizing. According to Moises Chuillan, the pool of money just shifts, so it won’t be all 30% going to Amazon. It will generally be much larger though.
A lot of people have said that it is unfair for Apple to charge 30 percent. Why is it unfair? Is it unfair because it is a lot of money? Well what if they charged 10 percent? That’s less than 30, by, like, 20! Oh, those people don’t think Apple should charge at all for IAP? Hmm. I guess. I guess they could just offer up their services as a storefront and payment processor for free, just like no one else does. It would be surprising if Tim Cook had that kind of Southern hospitality in him. Regardless, I don’t agree with the assumption that Apple’s system has damaged Comixology. Comixology would not be where it is today, let alone be acquired by Amazon, if it wasn’t for Apple’s IAP system as it exists, so let’s not pretend it’s some tyrannical system oppressing the proletariat. They willingly participated in it because it was easy to get people to use Comixology. Moises Chiullan, podcast-world-renowned for his passion for comics, and comics creators, has a very different take on it. I do disagree with Moises, and I’m more inclined to concur with internet-cranky-guy Marco Arment about what will eventually be a bad deal for comics creators.
After all, isn’t it more important to have people that use your stuff? You can say all kinds of important things about yourself when you have numbers that are bigger than other numbers. Growth rates! My god! Think of the growth rates! Let’s year-over-year some shit!
The very sharp turn from “let’s participate in this system that is easy for customers, and increases our value as a company” to “let’s make customers work harder because we’ve cornered the market and sold ourselves, so YOLO” is whiplashingly abrupt.
Did you know that Comixology allowed customers to purchase through their site before today? It’s true! Did you know it would sync with all the apps, regardless of where it was purchased? Amazing! Did you know that their website is a horrible pit of despair that any reasonable person would find clumsy and irksome so even I never fucking used it? Wow!
My reasons for not using their service, effective as of their dumb-ass email, is precisely because of how little they seem to think of me.
I have several comic book stores near me. They don’t keep the best hours for when I am working late, and they are peopled with exactly the stereotypes you imagine they are peopled with, but you know what? They aren’t fucking shady with me. Hell, Comics Ink in Culver City gives you a discount if you spend $20. Let me tell you that it is very easy to spend $20 on comics if you go once a month. Even easier if you buy trades. I’ll need to come up with a more inventive solution for the storage of my illustrated literature, but so what? So I have to drive there, and talk to the balding guy with a ponytail, and a hunter-green tactical vest? So?
But Joe, you idiot, how can going to a store be easier than their simple, 28-step, web-based, purchasing system where you can jump in and out of an application in iOS because it’s SO FUN? I never said it would be easier. Also, there are other ways to buy comics digitally, they just all happen to suck. Apple will sell comics through iBooks, but that system holds no appeal for me, nor to anyone else with any interest in comics. They theoretically have the easiest, and most lucrative, path to success here and they’ve hamstrung it in traditional Apple fashion. Way to really Podcast-app it up. Image Comics will directly distribute, but then I get to manage files, and blaaaah. Marvel and DC will still sell comics through their branded Comixology apps, but the appeal of jumping in and out of different app storefronts is just not there.
Perhaps I should check my privelage and not whine so much about something so dumb? Perhaps, but once you’ve solved world poverty then come back and ask me that. Jerk.
I won’t be “going” to a “store” that isn’t very nice to Joe — err, to Me. If someone at a physical store treated me this coldly I sure wouldn’t shop there, so what’s with all the thumbs-up for for a company with a fucking capital X in the middle of their name?
I like to think I have some principles about how I would like to do business with people. Like when I told Time Warner Cable to stuff their $6 a month cable modem rental fee and bought my own modem. Or when I participated in the Amazon Prime Trial program only to discover all the ways Prime doesn’t actually fulfill the scope of its promise. Fuck you people, be fucking-nice to me. I’m a fucking-pleasant human being!
One day, in the Consolidation-Heat-Death of the Global Economy, we’ll all look back on multiple sources of distribution of physical goods, and shrug.