Graphic.ly Changes Focus – The First Digital Comic Distributor Falls

Graphic.ly FoursquareI predicted it last year that we’d soon see the first digital comic distributor app shut down within a year and news has come out that prediction was dead on.  Graphic.ly announced that they are taking their business in a new direction.  They’ve recently changed their focus from an application and distribution tool, to more of a middle man helping publishers get their titles in eBookstores like Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and the many more services that are out there.  With that they’ve also shifted their focus from just comics to all graphic-based material, like children’s books, art books, magazines, textbooks and picture books and also comics.

But, how does this affect users of their previous applications?

  • As of this week, Graphic.ly will be retiring the previously-released Graphicly Comics marketplace applications.  Their iPhone, iPad and Android applications, as well as their Adobe AIR Desktop application will no longer be  available for download.
  • If you have purchased titles and use these apps, you will still be able to read your titles via the apps, but you simply will not be able to purchase titles through the apps anymore.
  • Your complete library of purchased titles will be still be, and always be, available to be purchased and read via their website at http://graphicly.com/store as well as through their Facebook Application (http://apps.facebook.com/graphicly/).

And with that, the first major digital comics application goes silent, leaving customers with the ability to no longer make purchases and having to go elsewhere.

The bigger question is, will anyone notice and what’s the impact to confidence in digital comics?  This question was posed at the comiXology panel at last year’s New York Comic Con, so it’s on people’s minds.  I’m not sure Graphic.ly had the customer base to shake up confidence in digital comics, but if anything this stresses for more digital rights for digital comic readers, which we’ve been vocal about.

In an ideal world, former Graphic.ly customers would be able to port over their already purchased comics to another platform, allowing them to have one library for past and future libraries.  There’s still many hurdles for that to happen, including picking a digital file standard, but maybe this will get the conversation going.