Comixology is an application and subscription service that lets you read digital comic books on your personal computer and mobile devices. It was started in 2007 and originally you could buy individual comics through mobile stores like Apple’s App Store. In April of 2014 it was purchased by Amazon and you now have to purchase the comics on amazon’s site and then they can open in the app. Last month, they added a new service called Comixology Unlimited where you pay a monthly fee of $5.99 and you can read “thousands of digital comics, graphic novels & manga.” They offer a free 30-day trial so I decided to put it to the test and see what you get for $6/month.
Comixology Unlimited does in fact offer thousands of comics to read for free and you can read as many as you have time for. Basically all the major publishers except for DC and Marvel are represented. Dark Horse, Image, IDW, Archie and other top publishers have books as well as foreign publishers like Humanoid and independent publishers like Fantagraphics.
There’s a lot of fantastic books represented here: Locke & Key, Saga, Hip Hop Family Tree, The Incal, The Walking Dead, Adventure Time, Hellboy and tons more. There’s definitely something to everyone’s taste represented.
The Comixology guided-view system that allows you to go from page to page or zoom in and read panel to panel is very easy to use and makes reading comics on a tablet very easy. Once you’re logged in, it’s pretty easy to jump around and go from comic to comic.
I was able to read some comics that are pretty expensive like The Incal by Moebius and Jodorowsky. I read a book I’ve been curious about but not enough to buy like Attack on Titan.
What they don’t tell you until you sign up and login is that every comic is only a trial. So if you are into Locke & Key, you only get the first 6 issues. You like Criminal? Again, 6 issues.
You can’t read any complete stories unless you are downloading comic strips compilations like The Peanuts or anthology stories like Hip Hop Family Tree. The entire thing is just designed to let you try new books. But after that initial free trial period you still are paying 6 bucks for the first few issues of hundreds of titles. Not complete runs.
They don’t make it easy to see how you cancel your plan. You sign up through a Comixology or Amazon account so it will automatically start charging you after a month. If you want to cancel your subscription, visit this page.
But perhaps most important is the question of how this model works for paying the creators? Because apparently the publishers, with the possible exception of IDW, did not bother to consult the creators of the books. So I really don’t know how royalties work for something like this. I can’t find anything on Comixology or in an interview that outlines that. I find that troubling.
It is a massive amount of comics to sample. More than you could realistically read within a month. However, you’ll probably know you only want to try a handful of titles. My advice? Sign up for the trial, then instantly cancel your subscription so that you don’t get charged. You’ll still have through the end of the first billing period/first 30 days to read anything on Unlimited.
I can’t imagine anyone finding use in this service for month after month. It’s designed to interest people in titles they may like. I think they should consider offering just one or two for free if that’s what the publisher is willing to do. When I hear “unlimited” I think of the Marvel Unlimited App which allows me to read as many Marvel books in their library as I want. And that’s a big library with new issues added every week both new and old. I’d be very interested in such a service across several publishers. But that does not exist.