Talking Digital Comics With ComiXology’s David Steinberger

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With the creation of iPhone/iPad apps for both Marvel Comics and indie publisher Boom! Studios so far this year, New York-based comiXology seems to be stepping into the position of the company most likely to help publishers transition into the world of digital comics. I spoke to the company’s CEO, David Steinberger, earlier this week about digital comics, creating a world where both digital and print can co-exist happily and why comic stores are already the future of record stores.

I saw the announcement about the partnership with Boom! Studios…

Yeah, we released a Boom! app this week.

Is this the second app, behind Marvel’s, that comiXology has created, essentially behind the scenes?

Yeah, it is. It’s exactly the second app.

How does that work? Do they approach you and say, we really want to get our comics out in the digital space and you’re the best people to do it, or do you approach the publishers?

In this case, Boom! has been partners with us for a long time. We’ve been selling Boom!’s comics through the Comics by comiXology app, and they’re also available through the web viewer, and they’ve been testing the waters with several different applications, and I think they felt like our performance has been really good and we have a good partnership. They wanted a little top level attention in the iTunes store, which is really the only way you can do it.

Something that I feel has been happening, particularly with the Boom! and Marvel apps, has been that comiXology has been really coming to the forefront in terms of digital comics and digital comics distribution.

Yeah, it certainly seems as if we’ve innovated enough in the space, and with our connections to retailers, we’ve gotten a lot of publishers behind us and, you know, we’ve been in the top ten iPhone app books for the last ten months. On the iPad, we’ve been top ten since launch. We have the biggest audience, we’ve innovated faster than any of our competitors, we’re the first ones to have true multiplatform – outside of some beta testing you may have seen out there. I think that we’re proving to have some value to these publishers, and I think that we do our best to be really good partners to the publishers, to let them experiment. I think it’s been working quite well.

Can you tell now what people are going for, in terms of the digital market? Is there a difference from the print audience?

It’s really fascinating, when you look at the top ten of our books. Recently, it’s been a lot of licensed material and indie material. We release new books every Thursday, so it’s partially up to what we release, but at the same time, we’ve been seeing a lot more – for instance, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has been up there from Boom!… If we release Walking Dead or Invincible, that’s normally in the top ten, but for example, Wanted from Top Cow has been in the top ten since January. I think that what that indicates is that we are reaching an audience not so oriented towards Marvel and DC. Well, Marvel at least, as DC aren’t in there, so we can’t tell.

Our Marvel books do really well, but Kick-Ass, the book from Icon, Marvel’s sub-line, which isn’t in the Marvel app, has done tremendously well. I think it indicates, kind of like Star Trek went for IDW, that we’re getting a wider audience than would perhaps go into a comic book store. That’s kind of been our rallying call since we launched the website over three years ago, that more people would be into comics if distribution was better, if they knew what was coming out, if they could find their stores, and this really speaks to that.

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