Amazon.com, the massive online retailer that started off selling books and now sells everything from gardening tools to vibrators, is now getting into the comic book business. Amazon has long sold graphic novels and comic book anthologies as part of its gargantuan book selection.
But the Seattle-based internet sales behemoth announced Wednesday that it will buy out comiXology, the largest distributor of digital comic books that can be read on tablets such as the iPad, smartphones, or any laptop or desktop computer.
Started in 2007, the New York based comiXology was the top moneymaking iPad app, other than game apps, in 2012 and 2013 and the new Amazon.com acquisition has been among the top 10 grossing iPad apps of any kind since 2011.
The digital comic book distributor says that since its founding, more than 20 million comics have been downloaded through the app. Those comics come from the two major comic book publishers, Marvel Comics and DC Comics as well as almost every smaller comic book publisher.
Marvel, of course, publishes the ongoing adventures of such top superhero characters as Spider-Man, The X-Men, Iron Man, The Avengers and many more. DC Comics is best known for Batman and Superman, as well as Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman and others.
All of those well-known superheroes will now be available on the Amazon.com platform.
Among the second-tier comic book publishers, only Portland-based Dark Horse has yet to jump onto the Comixology platform, now owned by Amazon.com.
While Marvel and DC control most of the major superhero characters, smaller publishers such as Dark Horse, IDW, Boom and others make their bread and butter from licensed properties, such as Star Trek, Godzilla, Alien and dozens more.
Amazon.com itself makes and sells tablet computers under its Kindle Fire brand, and those tablets need content in addition to the thousands of movies and TV shows already available through Amazon's own app.
With Comixology, Amazon.com acquires the company's innovative "Guided View" technology which, as the the name implies, guides readers through the comic book reading experience, providing a more dynamic presentation of the comic than a simple rendering of a static page.
"Amazon and comiXology share a passion for reinventing reading in a digital world," said David Naggar, Amazon.com Vice President said in a statement. "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."
Amazon.com and comiXology have not announced terms of the deal, which is expected to close before the end of June.