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Amazon is jumping into the webtoons game in a big way (and without comIXology)

Webtoons are getting so big that Amazon wants a piece of it

Amazon Fliptoon
Image credit: Amazon

Amazon has been interested in the comics market for decades - so much so that in 2013 is tried launching a comic publishing imprint, and in 2014, it outright bought the largest digital comics distributor in the world, ComiXology. Now, as the the webtoons market grows, it sees another opportunity and is launching its own Webtoons division.

Amazon Fliptoon is a new service the company is testing in the Japanese market, publishing original webtoons.

Why Fliptoon? While this format of webcomic is popularly called a 'webtoon,' Naver has expertly taken over that nomenclature with their Webtoon division. Fliptoon seems to be an example of Amazon trying to set itself apart from the biggest player on the market, and trying not to inadvertantly cast any eyeballs to its now competitor.

Amazon Fliptoon doesn't require a special app like Kindle or comiXology to be read; the service can be read on aby web browser. Amazon is offering the first four chapter of each Amazon Fliptooon project free, with additional chapters available for for a fee- although it will unlock these paywalled chapters after a certain amount of time if you're willing to wait for it.

At launch, Amazon Fliptoon titles include My Ojun, Otherworld Transformation Garrison Busters, and Dalgona Diary. Amazon is working in partnership with the South Korean comic publisher Rockin' KOREA to obtain some of these Fliptoon projects.

Amazon is entering the webtoon market 19 years after the market was conceived in 2004 by Naveer Webtoon, and the Webtoon division's CEO Kim Junkoo has strong words about Amazon entering the market.

"To build a (webtoon) store, you need knowledge about serial services, user targeting, a fitting business model, educating users," Kim told Reuters. "This takes time. But even if you put in time, you can't recreate the creator economy we've built."

While the Amazon Fliptoon service isn't currently officially available outside of Japan, it's hard to fathom that Amazon didn't have aspirations for it to be successful enough for it to grow to be used across the world in all of Amazon's markets - including the United States.

"Is ComiXology going away?" and other important questions about Amazon's digital comics platform answered.
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