The Digital Reader

Charting the eBook Evolution since 2010

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Graphicly to Abandon Its Digital Comics Apps – Shifts to Kindle, Kobo, Other eBookstores

April 5th, 2012 by · 2 Comments · apps, ebookstore news

Now here’s some news that’s going to be a blow to indie ebookstores. Graphicly announced today that they are going to retire their iOS, Android, and Adobe AIR apps.

They’re not shutting down, and they are in fact going to continue distributing content from a large number of artists and publishers in PDF, fixed layout Epub, and KF8 format. You’ll still be able to find the content in any number of ebookstores.

As Micah Baldwin explains in a blog post:

When we launched Graphicly, we had one goal: Help all publishers and creators get their stories seen. As we built out a series of marketplaces inside other marketplaces, we started to realize that we were no longer being supportive of that goal. Instead, we became a giant store, and while on the surface there is a lot of personal ego knowing that you are driving hundreds of thousands of people daily to your store, somewhere in there, our mission got lost.

If you’ve already bought the content you’ll still be able to read it in the apps you have. But as of this week you cannot download the apps anymore; Graphicly has already pulled them from iTunes and elsewhere. This is going to be something of a problem if you need to replace your device, and that goes double considering I’ve checked my usual download sites and they don’t have copies of any of the apps.

I read this story earlier in the day and since then I’ve been wondering if there might be other reasons why Graphicly did it. I don’t mean to sound like I disbelieve Micah, but it seems to me that there might be another reason.  I’ve come up with one that could be an even better reason than the one above: marketing.

I was reading the blog post for a second time I noticed the emphasis on the content distributed by Graphicly besides comics. They handle all sorts of fixed layout books, including children’s books, art books, magazines, and textbooks.

One important detail about all the types of content is that they need to be marketed in different ways to different customers. Giving up the apps would free up the publishers to do their own marketing elsewhere and relieve Graphicly of any need to do it. Then again, this could just be me blowing smoke.

Still, this is not good news for anyone who wanted to avoid being tied to one of the big boys. Everyone is talking this week about Pottermore, and they’re holding it up as proof that an ebookstore can go it alone and compete with the big boys (never mind that Harry Potter is the iPad of content). This news about Graphicly suggests that even thought you can do it on your own, you might be better off working with the majors.

It’s also a graphic lesson in why I don’t invest in content that I cannot control.  Anyone who bought content direct from Graphicly  is going to lose access to it in the near future. If they had bought the same titles from one of the major ebookstores, they could have protected themselves by removing the DRM and archiving a copy.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Micah Baldwin

    Love the analysis.

    We arent abandoning the independent bookstores, in fact we are close to bringing on several hundred independent ebookstores (and perhaps more) both domestically and internationally.

    We see it as a huge boon for independent creators given the difficulty of getting content in multiple marketplaces.

    As for the thoughts around marketing. Yes, in this day and age, its a huge mistake for any indie publisher to expect to have the marketplace market their books for them, given a marketplace’s job is to make money, which drives promotional decisions around potential sales, not around awesome content. (they are not always connected…Twilight…)

    In our view its the difference between teaching a man to fish, and having that man hope he gets fed if enough people bring fish to the marketplace.

    This is a big win for indies and we are excited to be part of it. Happy to chat more if you like.

    micah
    @micah

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