Last week, Comixology launched a 4.0 update that radically overhauled the biggest digital storefront in comics—a new app that replaced the original bespoke mobile experience with a Kindle-esque format, and the loss of Comixology’s own website in exchange for a presence within its owner Amazon’s website. To say that neither move was well-received would be a diplomatic understatement, and now Comixology promises changes.
In a lengthy Twitter thread today—the first time Comixology tweeted since a similarly large thread about the initial launch of the 4.0 app and web experience—the publisher acknowledged the strong blowback from users and comics creatives about the many changes made by the integration of Comixology directly into Amazon’s marketplace.
“We want to take a moment to address the transition to our new apps & comics webstore experience,” the statement begins. “We know this process has been far from seamless and we’ve heard your feedback.”
“Far from seamless” has applied to both aspects of the unpopular relaunch. Aside from changes to the app, confusion over which led readers to believe tools like Comixology’s panel-by-panel “guided view” option had been removed (it’s now just accessed by double tapping a panel, instead of having a dedicated button), and changes to library filtering that made large comics collections unwieldy to navigate, the mobile launch saw bugs that prevented some users from accessing large swaths of their previously purchased comics.
But perhaps the most profound changes have been in browsers. Both navigating Comixology’s Amazon-integrated storefront—plagued with bugs that made it impossible to see more than a few dozen new releases out of hundreds of comics, as well as un-intuitive ways to access your library of purchases—and reading comics directly on the web are now done entirely through the maligned Kindle Cloud Reader. It’s a tool distinctly not designed with the visual medium of comics in mind from a presentation standpoint, something that caused major frustrations for users.
Several incoming changes (none of which were given a rough ETA by Comixology) include fixing the storefront’s “New Releases” filter so it accurately shows every newly added comic, as well as making it a “top priority” to improve Kindle Cloud Reader’s handling of comics, although details on that front we left unsaid beyond “improving the web reader experience.” Other incoming changes include fixing errors where certain comics wouldn’t appear in high-definition in apps, as well as the ability to navigate from the Comixology storefront directly to your library of purchases—currently located under layers of menus in a user’s Amazon account tab. The account also noted that this library included DRM-free downloads of comics, previously offered by Comixology’s storefront—but only for purchases made before the 4.0 rollout last week.
“Moving to a new codebase and away from our dedicated web experience was a tough call, but it’s an important step towards our long-term goals—to share our love of comics, manga, and graphic novels, and to reach more lifelong fans,” the statement concluded. “We hear your feedback and we recognize that there’s a lot to be done. We appreciate your patience and support while we do everything we can to bring you the experience we envision.”
The thread doesn’t offer a timeframe on when these first steps will be implemented. Nor does it comment on several other controversial changes brought forward with the overhaul, such as the loss of series subscriptions outside of the U.S.—or from a creative and publishing standpoint, the controversial decision to move from a Comixology-specific submission program to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, which offers fewer royalties compared to the prior system. It also doesn’t really acknowledge the fact that it’s clear in the last week alone that the rollout shouldn’t have gone out as is, severely undermining the reputation of Comixology—and legal access to digital comics—in the process.
As frustrating as it is to see, at the very least, Comixology is now more than aware of the errors it made in this process, and can start fixing them. Hopefully those fixes come sooner rather than later, and at least some form of what previously made Comixology the premier home for purchasing digital comics online can exist in this newly updated form.
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