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Amazon shutters the ComiXology app; what now for digital comic readers?

As of next month, ComiXology customers will be forced to use the Kindle app... or go elsewhere entirely

ComiXology Logo
Image credit: Amazon/Popverse

In a move that many have been waiting for, Amazon has announced that it will shutter the standalone ComiXology app in just three weeks, folding all ComiXology purchases into Kindle from December 4 onwards.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon via a message sent to ComiXology customers that read, in part, “On December 4, 2023, we will be merging the Comixology and Kindle applications on iOS, Android, and Fire OS. Starting today, any books previously purchased on Comixology will automatically be visible in your library on the Kindle app. The upgraded Kindle app experience is available now; however, you may continue reading your books in the Comixology app until December 4, 2023.”

A notice labeled “Important Changes to the Comixology app starting December 4, 2023” explained that “reading will no longer be supported” on the ComiXology app after December 4, meaning that anyone wanting to continue to read their ComiXology purchases will be forced to use the Kindle app; however, ComiXology Unlimited subscriptions will continue to be available, in addition to Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime subscriptions.

The announcement comes 10 months after Amazon laid off somewhere between 50-75% of ComiXology staff — although some believe the figure could be closer to 80%; those layoffs were followed by the ending of the company’s long-standing relationship with Marvel to power the standalone Marvel Comics app in April. In the past two years, ComiXology has lost its one remaining founder, David Stenberger, as well as head of content Chip Mosher, and Mosher’s replacement in that position, Bryce Gold. As early as May, there were rumors of Amazon looking to wind down ComiXology as a whole.

(Steinberger and Mosher both formed new publisher DSTLRY together; Gold moved on to Kickstarter. Notably, none of them stayed in the digital comics distribution field.)

So, where to now? While former ComiXology staffers suggested that Amazon executives felt as if the customer base would transition to Kindle because there was no alternative, the lay of the land has changed. Newcomer competitor GlobalComix launched its own digital comics reading app for mobile devices in October, with Omnibus already offering an iPad app, with iPhone and Android device apps set for launch in the next couple of months. Of course, both Marvel and DC have their own digital subscription services, but neither are on GlobalComix or Omnibus… yet.

Since the news that the ComiXology app was going away broke, social media has been filled with posts about the ways in which Amazon has dismantled what could have been a robust digital marketplace for comic publishing; what’s going to be particularly interesting is watching how the void left behind is going to be filled across the next 12 months or so.

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