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A Man Builds an Electromagnetic Spider-Man Webshooter

I think the laser dot is key myself….

Amazon, ComiXology, What it Likely Means

amazonThe comic world was full of excitement and nervousness when it was announced last week that the tech giant Amazon would be purchasing digital comic book leader comiXology the details of which have not been revealed. In general the public reaction by the comic industry has been positive. The Beat has a nice roundup of the various articles taking on the deal. While the deal won’t be final until June, I decided to put on my thinking cap and speculate what the actual impact of the deal might mean for the companies and why, in my opinion, this is a good thing for Amazon, comiXology, and the comic industry as a whole.

The rumor of comiXology being bought out has lingered for quite a while in comic knitting circles, but in general rumors of company buy-outs, mergers, whatever, is often speculation and wishful thinking. In the tech world, this is just another acquisition for the giant Amazon diversifying their portfolio in what they have their hands in. Many have pointed out the many of the contracts between comic publishers and comiXology would be expiring over the next year or two, and depending how those deals go, it’s a roll of the dice as what comiXology’s position to sell would be. Overall, the company announced a healthy $70 million in sales in 2012 and place fifth in global revenue for the Google Play and iOS platforms according to App Annie, a website that tracks online applications. Take the healthy revenue, dominance in the digital comic arena, its guided view technology, and you can see why the company was ripe for being bought.

Below I’ve broken down what I think this actually means and what we can expect from the deal.

comixology small imageWhy did Amazon jump at the chance?

Amazon is diversifying what it provides as services and goods. The tech giant moved into physical goods like their Kindle readers and the soon to be launched Amazon phone. The company bought Zappos partially due to it’s amazing delivery of goods. Amazon has their cloud service discussed further below. They also have moved into original programming and video streaming with their push of Amazon Prime among other things. They even have a comic company, though that hasn’t really taken off.

If we think about company’s making purchases to help strengthen them in an area they’re weak, comiXology absolutely helps in numerous ways. Here’s some of them.

Kindle and upcoming Amazon phone

The Kindle comic experience is generally lackluster compared to comiXology. It might be a bit, but it’s almost a guarantee that comiXology’s system and guided view will become the default reader for Amazon products. Expect the comiXology app to be preloaded on the Kindle and upcoming Amazon phone allowing individuals to immediately jump in and start reading. In fact, I think Amazon will be intelligent enough to pre-load their comics so customers will be able to have the experience immediately at no cost. The company can now provide a top notch comic experience right away with just a few taps of the finger.

Amazon can focus its comic efforts elsewhere. ComiXology becoming the default service for their product allows them to have one division totally focused on that experience, a division that has shown they’re the best there is at what they do currently. Expect comiXology’s Guided View to become the Amazon standard for comics and graphic novels.

Expand the Kindle Female User Base

The Kindle is a solid seller, and Amazon is smart enough to know by subsidizing the cost (I just got an email for a nice discount on one as an example) they are able to make up the profits later by selling content. The Kindle though has a pretty heavy female base from the digging I’ve done. According to Facebook statistics the Kindle likes are 64.6% female. ComiXology’s user base is heavily male in comparison, though making up ground with women.

Of buyers new to ComiXology in the last three months, 20% are women. That’s up from less than 5% when they started the app, and it’s a number that Steinberger says is changing rapidly.

Give comic fans a device and platform that provides and experience unlike any other, and you’ll move some hardware. If you’re looking to diversify the Kindle user base, comic fans are a nice target audience to go with. Make it impressive enough… well we’ve seen how geeks evangelize things they like.

Data

Amazon is a leader in the use of consumer data. I’ll discuss this more below, but with comiXology Amazon gets the purchasing data the company has. That allows Amazon to learn even more about their current clients and the purchasing behavior of comic fans. Consumer data is gold in the right hands.

Amazon Cloud/Web Service

This is one I fully expect to be a high priority for both comiXology and Amazon. You might know Amazon from the web store where you can pretty much find anything, but one of Amazon’s biggest businesses is their web/cloud services. The easiest way to explain it is Amazon is one of the kings of website hosting, cloud computing, content delivery, application services and more. Many of the websites you visit every day, the applications you use, are hosted by Amazon’s services. While many companies are able to implement their use of this service well on their end, there’s nothing like having folks on the inside to help. When it comes to staffing changes, I think Amazon would likely have some staff help make sure comiXology is leveraging the full power of Amazon’s cloud. This deal allows comiXology to gain expertise that’s a hot commodity in the tech industry.

For us users, it means better reliability and possibly better download speeds and even some improvement in the storage of comics themselves. I’d think we’d see a smoother experience, but the changes might be too subtle for individuals to notice.

Read More…

Amazon Buys ComiXology

amazonAfter a bit of rumor, it was announced today that Amazon would be buying comiXology some time during the second quarter. Details of the deal haven’t been revealed. ComiXology made the announcement on their Tumblr.

Amazon.com today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire comiXology, the company that revolutionized the digital comics reading experience with their immersive Guided View technology and makes discovering, buying, and reading comic books and graphic novels easier and more fun than ever before.

“ComiXology’s mission is to spread the love of comics and graphic novels in all forms,” said David Steinberger, co-founder and CEO of comiXology. “There is no better home for comiXology than Amazon to see this vision through. Working together, we look to accelerate a new age for comic books and graphic novels.”

“Amazon and comiXology share a passion for reinventing reading in a digital world,” said David Naggar, Amazon Vice President, Content Acquisition and Independent Publishing. “We’ve long admired the passion comiXology brings to changing the way we buy and read comics and graphic novels. We look forward to investing in the business, growing the team, and together, bringing comics and graphic novels to even more readers.”

Founded in 2007, comiXology offers a broad library of digital comic book content from over 75 of the top publishers as well as top independent creators.

Following the acquisition, comiXology’s headquarters will remain in New York.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

Sequential partners with Top Shelf

Sequential, a graphic novel storefront and reader app focused on literary graphic novels, has announced that it has started releasing titles by pioneering art comics and graphic novel publisher Top Shelf. Titles now available include (but not limited to):

  • Alec by Eddie Campbell
  • Wizzywig by Ed Piskor
  • The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
  • March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

With this addition Sequential has expanded its digital catalogue which now includes US publishers such as Fantagraphics, NBM and Secret Acres.

Released in August 2013, Sequential is focused on book format art comics and literary graphic novels. It aims to help promote comics as an art form and has been offering titles from Fantagraphics, NBM, Secret Acres, Jonathan Cape, Knockabout, Myriad Editions, SelfMadeHero and Blank Slate Books amongst others.

The Sequential app features works by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, David Lloyd, Eddie Campbell, Ellen Lindner, Hunt Emerson, Isabel Greenberg, Jaime Hernandez, Nick Abadzis, Rutu Modan, Winshluss and many, many more.

sequential top shelf

A Florida Judge Rules an IP Address Isn’t a Person & Can’t Identify a Pirate

pirateA judge in Florida has delivered a blow to piracy lawsuits when she threw out a case filed by Malibu Media, an Adult film company, this week. As has been a pretty common practice, Malibu filed a bulk lawsuit listing IP addresses. The hopes is that the court would then subpoena the cable operator (Comcast in this case) to connect the dots and turn over the actual individuals. In many cases in the past, the person accused is not actually the offender. It seems some judges are taking that fact to note.

US District Judge Ursula Ungaro tossed the lawsuit because:

[t]here is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff’s videos and establishing whether that person lives in this district.

Basically the question is, without knowing who it is, how do you know if this is the right venue for the case?

Malibu lawyer Keith Lipscomb attempted to argued they hired an investigator who used a geolocation that:

…has always been 100 percent accurate when traced to the Southern District of Florida.

By directing its lawsuits at IP addresses from Comcast Cable, Plaintiff knows that almost always the IP address will trace to a residential address.

Ungaro rejected Malibu’s argument and dismissed and closed the case, she felt the evidence didn’t prove the plaintiffs could prove the actual individual for the lawsuit.

Plaintiff has shown that the geolocation software can provide a location for an infringing IP address; however, Plaintiff has not shown how this geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant

There is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff’s videos, and establishing whether that person lives in this district.

Ungaro also insisted that Malibu justify two other lawsuits against users identified only by IP addresses.

This ruling isn’t a first and follows a decision by a New York judge in the case K-Beech v. John Does in 2012. That judge said the plaintiff needed specific users. This along with those previous cases give individuals ammo to fight back against blanket lawsuits.

(via Torrent Freak)

Yaoi Manga Publisher SuBLime Launches Digital Catalog on Kobo eBookstore

SUBLIME_logo_finalSuBLime, the global yaoi manga publishing initiative between VIZ Media and Japan’s Animate, Ltd., has announced the launch today of its diverse yaoi manga library to Kobo, a global leader in eReading.

You can find these manga via Kobo’s eBookstore which takes advantage of the platform’s E Ink eReaders, the award-winning Kobo Arc Android tablet, and top-ranking free apps for iOS, BB10 smartphones, and Android devices. Digital volumes are generally available for $5.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. Individual volumes are generally rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers.

Among the scores of SuBLime digital titles now featured in Kobo’s eBookstore that are sure to capture reader’s attention are acclaimed titles such as Embracing Love, by Youka Nitta, Awkward Silence, by Hinako Takanaga, Nights, by Kou Yoneda, Oku-San’s Daily Fantasies, by Noboru Takatsuki, and Tableau Numéro 20, by est em, in addition to many more.

OkuSansDailyFant_GN01_cover TableauNumero20

Marvel Relaunches Project Gamma at SXSW

Marvel_Unlimted_SXSW_SaleMarvel made numerous announcements at SXSW this past weekend including integrating adaptive audio and AR video to their Marvel Unlimited experience. While many seem to act as if this was some big breakthrough, it’s really just a software update.

What many are forgetting is Marvel announced adaptive audio at LAST YEAR’s SXSW under the teaser “Project Gamma.” It seems people just don’t remember that in all of the coverage mentioning  this “groundbreaking move.” What is new is its inclusion in the Marvel Unlimited platform.

We checked with Marvel to make sure this was the case and it is indeed the “same features,” but also with a new technology partner, Firelight Technologies. The press release called it an “industry first,” it isn’t (see Operation Ajax as an example) and it’s hard to be a first when it was also announced last year also by Marvel.

The first adaptive-audio comics will be the classic Captain America: The Winter Soldier story by Ed Brubaker (Captain America #8, 9, 11-14) and the audio versions will be available exclusively in Marvel Unlimited. Not available for individual purchase or through a download code.

Here’s an video of the audio in action.

Marvel also announced the inclusion of their AR Video content in their Marvel Unlimited platform. This offers the behind the scenes material in one app now.

This will initially launch on Sunday, March 9th with the first story arc (six issues) of Jonathon Hickman’s Avengers series (which launched December 2012) and provide access to over 20 videos. New videos will be included as new issues make their Marvel Unlimited debut beginning on March 9th.

 

* Requires Internet connection and Marvel.com account.

Marvel is also celebrating SXSW Interactive 2014 by offering fans access to nearly 15,000 of Marvel’s greatest comics, for an entire month, for only 99 cents!* Fans can access some of the most important stories in pop culture history while online, and take twelve digital comics with them on the go, even when offline!

Use the promo code SXSW99

At SXSW ComiXology Reveals Metrics and 100 Comics for $10

comixology small imageComiXology had a hell of a day at SXSW, not only did they sponsor the Geek Stage at the SXSW Gaming Expo, but during their panel comiXology co-founders David Steinberger and John D. Roberts announced the availability of the top 100 books from the Submit program for only $10 – a savings of over $300.

In the year since its launch comiXology’s Submit platform has further democratized comic book distribution, bypassing publishers and allowing any independent creator a chance at getting their comics or graphic novels in front of the impressive digital audience.

ComiXology at their panel also released some statistics about the first year of Submit:

  • #3 in overall content released for the past year
  • #6 in all downloads released for the past year
  • #10 in gross revenue among all releases for past year
  • 1007 submission available for sale
  • 47,347 in pages released
  • 26 countries represented
  • 6 out of 7 continents represented; including Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South America, & Australia except Antarctica.

I feel like we all need to come together a figure out a way to get a submission in from Antarctica…. then we can move on to the moon.

comixology 100 comics for 10

Anime Studio 10 Launches Today!

anime studioSmith Micro Software, Inc. Productivity and Graphics Group today have launched Anime Studio Pro 10 and Anime Studio Debut 10. Both are intuitive animation software available that allows artists of all ages and skill levels to craft high-quality 2D animations for personal or professional expression. The latest version comes with enhanced features that provide increased bone control, more movement options and new tools, Anime Studio 10 gives artists improved ways to easily and quickly create stunning animated content.

The latest update comes after the software publisher worked with their community to develop new time-saving features and enhance existing features to give creators complete control over all aspects of their work.

To celebrate the 10th edition of Anime Studio, Smith Micro has teamed up with Wacom Technology, makers of digital interface solutions, for a giveaway with no purchase necessary. From March 4th, 2014 to April 4th, 2014 users can enter for the chance to win a Wacom Cintiq Companion grand prize or a Intuos Pro Medium or Intuos Medium tablet for second and third place prizes. As well, award-winning animator Victor Paredes has created an exclusive animation clip with Anime Studio 10, highlighting the various ways users can utilize preloaded content available immediately in the software.

Anime Studio 10 New Key Features:

  • New Bone Constraints and Smart Bone Setup for streamlined character movement
  • New Bounce, Elastic and Stagger Interpolation for adding realism to character movements
  • Enhanced Drawing Tools that make creating and adjusting animated content faster
  • New and improved content library provides pre-loaded characters and material for easy animating

Anime Studio Pro 10 is available for $299.99 and Anime Studio Debut 10 is $49.99.

Check out the videos below to learn more about the software and even videos created with it!

Top Shelf Launches First Wave of DRM-free Graphic Novels!

Since 2011, Top Shelf has embraced digital distribution wholeheartedly. They’ve presented an unmatched library of award-winning and fan-favorite graphic novels on multiple platforms, working with numerous digital partners to offer readers a remarkable degree of choice, while keeping digital prices substantially lower than print.

Fans have taken advantage of having their Top Shelf library handy and easily on the go by downloading Top Shelf comics by the thousands from excellent vendors like Comixology, Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Kobo, BN Nook, and more, while continuing to shop for their favorites in printed format from their favorite retailers.

Today, Top Shelf is launching a new program that gives digital readers even more options. In addition to selling through their digital partners, select titles are now available in DRM-free digital editions directly from their online store at www.topshelfcomix.com! Using this DRM-free option allows you to download your purchase as a simple PDF, ePub, or CBZ file — yours to keep, back up, or transfer to mobile devices.

What’s more, this new direct-download option allows Top Shelf to launch another great feature: add-on pricing. Starting today, customers who order select titles from the www.topshelfcomix.com online store can purchase both print and digital editions at the same time, for a substantial savings!

For example, Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder is priced at $19.95 print and $6.99 digital, but now when ordering the print edition, it’s only $2.99 extra to add on the digital edition. One for home and one for the road? One for you and one for your sweetie? The choice is yours, with add-on pricing!

Top Shelf’s new DRM-free ebook program launches with the following titles:

  • March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell ($7.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Heck by Zander Cannon ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • Crater XV by Kevin Cannon ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire ($6.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • God Is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler ($9.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Chester 5000 by Jess Fink ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • We Can Fix It by Jess Fink ($6.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • The Surrogates (Vol. 1) by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • The Surrogates (Vol. 2): Flesh and Bone by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince ($3.99 digital, $0.99 with print purchase)

Also, the following digital-exclusive titles are now available DRM-free:

  • Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (Vol. 1) by Dusty Higgins & Van Jensen ($4.99 digital)
  • Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (vol. 2): The Great Puppet Theater by Dusty Higgins & Van Jensen ($4.99 digital)
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