Thursday, February 12, 2009

PCDW - ComiXology interview with David Steinberger

comiXology on iTunesFrom talking to several people who went to New York Comic Con last weekend, one of the most talked about companies at the con was comiXology, who demoed an iPhone comic book application that sounds amazing.

Upon hearing about this new application, I thought it sounded like a great Paper Comic DeathWatch topic, so I contacted David Steinberger of comiXology, and asked him if he would like to talk about about their new application. Here's what he said.

Jim: Who or what is Comixology?

David: comiXology is the website for comic book fans. We track all shipping comics and let you make your wish list (or in comic book lingo, Pull List). Then, we track all the changes in ship dates, etc. and send you a note on Wednesday morning telling you what's arriving. And with our iPhone application, you can take the shipping lists, covers, previews and your pull list with you on your iPhone or iPod Touch! And our many comic book previews (about 60 a week) are available online and in the app.

It Came Out On WednesdayWe also connect directly with comic book retailers so you can pull your comics online or on the iPhone app and pick it up at your store. Interested retailers should check out comiXology's comic book retailer services here.

But that's not all! It's all wrapped in a social network, so you can become friends with other comic book fans, create discussion groups to talk about the subjects you like and connect with aspiring artists and writers.

Finally, we have original content: a weekly comic book podcast, called It Came Out on Wednesday, that features short interviews with leading creators, and several amazing columnists.

I should mention that one of our official Advisors is Jenette Kahn, of DC Comics fame, so we have some solid industry support.

What do you call your comic reader application? How can people find it?

Our current software is called comiXology. They can download their comics previews on their iPhone or iPod Touch via that app. We're working on our comic book reader application, where people can buy from a store and read on their device. And it's not going to just be iPhone. We're working on Android and Blackberry applications, too.

comiXologyWill you have original or public domain content. (Where do you plan to get your content?)

We're working to make deals with existing publishers to put back issues online while sharing revenue with our brick-and-mortar retailer partners. We think it's important to get the retailers involved and profiting from the digital revolution.

That said, we'll likely create ways to download public domain content and make deals with free, web-based creators to make sure their work is available through the store as well.

Will you be open to creators submitting their comics for distribution on this new application?

Of course -- sort of like the iTunes model, where as long as you're making quality work, we'll work with you to get your content online with us. But we like the idea of professional level work, so we won't be accepting just anything.

Have you guys worked out some sort of payment system for creators?

We've given this a lot of thought, and of course the creators or publishers that represent the work being sold on the shop will get a good deal.

Do you worry about Paper Comic retailer backlash against Digital Comics?

No, I don't worry about it. That doesn't mean there won't be backlash. There most certainly will. But looking at digital as the ultimate evil is short-sighted. It's already been proven with books like Shooting Wars and Achewood that you can successfully launch a digital comic book that is then profitable in print. But retailers can benefit from the digital revolution by working with comiXology. That's why we share revenue from digital sales with our retailer partners. It keeps the retail shop community intact. If a comiXology user is connected to a retailer through our site, and buys a digital comic book, the retailer makes money.

What type of comics are you going to be publishing?

Any and all -- it's a store, so, if all goes well, you will be able to browse by publisher, creator, genre, whatever!

How will you guys measure success?

We measure our success first by making a product we're proud of and want to use ourselves. This is the real world, though, so being able to make enough revenue to continue doing it is the final measure. I'm confident that won't be an issue.

Is this your company's first foray into iTunes development, or do you have other applications you have made?

No, we have two applications in the store right now: comiXology, our premiere $3.99 app, and comiXology LITE, a free application. comiXology LITE doesn't let you pull comics and only has one week of data. comiXology, the $3.99 app, keeps three weeks worth of shipping comics and merchandise, plus your pull list and lets you Pull on the fly.

Do you have a website where people can go for more information?

You bet! Our comic book website is Our iPhone comic book app is available on the iTunes store in LITE and Premium versions.

We also have a facebook page and send out regular updates via twitter.

Thank you David for the great interview!

- Jim

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