Taking a Look at Digital Comics Profit in the Wake of Amazon and Comixology

There has been a lot of outrage about Comixology’s decision to remove in-app purchasing from its primary comic reader app.

Some of the responses, such as this one from Gerry Conway, have been well thought out:

This is a very big deal, because it strikes to the heart of what made Comixology’s app a near-perfect venue for discovering and falling in love with new comics, a venue creators and publishers have been searching for since the collapse of mainstream newsstand distribution in the late 1970s-early ’80s: it destroys the casual reader’s easy access to an impulse purchase. And that’s a terrible development for the future of comics.

But none of the responses seem to take into account the realities of the digital comics market. Before people get too up in arms about Amazon’s and Comixology’s actions, I encourage people to take a look back at Jim Zubkavich’s breakdown of digital comics profit. Jim points out just how much that 901 cents off the top of a $3 issue really impacts how much money is distributed to creators. (SPOILER: Not paying Apple its cut means that the creators could be getting up to 40% more profit per book sale.)

I full understand that it is slightly more inconvenient to have to buy comics from the website, but when looking at the numbers, I have a hard time naming Amazon and Comixology as the only villains in this scenario.


  1. As a friend of mine pointed out, it seems ridiculous that Apple is taking a 30% cut on this type of in-app, content-only sale. I have a hard time believing they are playing any more of a role than a standard payment processor in these transactions, and a payment processor would only end up taking somewhere between 2-5%.