Comixology destroy user experience by ending in-app buying because Amazon is cheap

Comixology logo and strapline

Or at least, that’s my take on it.

So I was lying in bed on Saturday night, checking my email and I see a note from Comixology – kill our old app, download the new one. Intrigued, I went into the old app – a full scale salt and burn over a simple download our update note being the kind of thing that makes me wonder about the online vulnerability of the payment information I have on my Comixology account. Heartbleed wasn’t that long ago, after all.

And right there on my tablet screen it was. Every feature box on the app homepage had the same message – download our new app.  So I did, thinking if something went wrong I didn’t even have the old one to fall back on so I might as well do as instructed.

And what I got was an app with only 4 menu options – On Device, In Cloud, Search, and the misleadingly titled More Books (all it takes you to is a contact us box).

Yup, that’s it folks, we the Comixology consumers are no longer permitted to buy single issues and bind-ups through the Comixology iOS app using our iTunes credit.

Because Amazon bought Comixology less than a month ago, and Amazon doesn’t want to pay Apple that 30% commission on all in-app digital purchases, which is the same reason it removed the option to buy Kindle books from its own app few years back.

I guess it cuts into the profit margin.

So this pisses me off for several reasons:

  1. I like buying comics through the app – it’s easy and it’s quick and it allows me to make quick (and sometimes foolish) buying decisions and immediately get the product
  2. I like being able to use my iOS and iTunes credit to do this and not having my card details on the site
  3. And I used to like being able to read a few sample pages of any issue I wanted to buy to get a feel for the writing and see if I wanted to read more. Now all I can see are the covers

I only ever used the Comixology main online store when they made me (which was when Apple wouldn’t allow the purchase of Matt Fraction’s Sex Criminals via the app. Go read it, it’s brilliant) and even then it was something I grumbled about the necessity of using.

Now if I want to read digital comics I’m going to have to do this all the time.

Amazon is sacrificing customer experience and goodwill for a measly 30%. Comixology was evidently making money before despite this 30% loss, cutting it off now just seems like the age old story that arrival of big business means the previously beloved baby company now has higher priorities than happy users.

Oh, and thanks Comixology for the $5 of credit that I could only use on despite the fact that prices on are in dollars. I really enjoyed all the times you kept redirecting me to the UK site and told me I couldn’t have the money because it was only valid on the US site. That was fun.

I’m off to research alternative comics apps. I already gave up on paper issues after I ran out of storage space and backing boards. If this leads to me giving up on legal and legitimate digital issues I might as well just add a scans site to my favourites list and donate what I would have spent to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

As a rule I prefer to acquire my digital media legally. But when the systems conspire to make that hard for me I react like the Oatmeal does. So for the sake of all of us Amazon, stop looking at the profit margin and make it easy for me to buy and download my comics. Or I’ll stop bothering with the buying part.

PS. Oh and don’t even get me started on the news you can still buy comics through the Android App. Way to care about all your customers Amazon. Good Job.

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