The merging of Comixology and Kindle has created a hell I’d like to flee

In February of this 12 months, Amazon lastly accomplished its consumption of the as soon as impartial app for downloading comics, Comixology. Amazon had acquired the app manner again in 2013, and apart from removing the ability to buy comics directly from the app, it left it untouched for practically a decade. But this year, Amazon changed things — incorporating Comixology’s digital market straight into the Kindle ecosystem and completely redesigning the Comixology app. It has taken two distinct mediums — digital comics and digital books — and smashed them collectively into an unholy blob of content material that’s worse in each single manner. Apparently, in case you let one firm purchase a near-monopoly within the digital books and comics areas, it can do horrible issues that make the expertise worse.

For these of you who aren’t massive comedian nerds, Comixology is the biggest market for digital comics. If you happen to don’t wish to pay for individual monthly subscriptions to publishers, it’s the one per-issue provider of digital comics from a variety of main publishers, together with DC Comics and Picture. If you happen to learn comics and wish to keep away from the problems of storing your bodily assortment, Comixology has, till just lately, all the time supplied a reasonably stable catchall different.

Kindle, in the meantime, has maintained a de facto monopoly within the digital books area in the US. Amazon’s e-readers are probably the most broadly bought within the US, with Rakuten’s Kobo line of e-readers (Rakuten is the biggest bookseller in Japan) and Barnes & Noble’s line of Nook e-readers trailing behind.

If you happen to assume the enormity of those marketplaces would imply Kindle or Comixology had been the most effective, you’d be sorely mistaken. They’ve succeeded fully as a consequence of their measurement — not their high quality. Amazon is so massive it could usually use its measurement to strain publishers or ignore them. In 2019, Amazon shipped numerous copies of the sequel to Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Story every week upfront, and regardless of an uproar from impartial booksellers, it suffered no points with the writer, Penguin Random Home. Penguin Random Home didn’t even point out Amazon when apologizing to readers and booksellers for the damaged embargo.

Amazon’s more and more exterior position in digital publishing had led me to attempt to reduce on utilizing its companies. So when Amazon accomplished its integration of Comixology in February, it took me a short while to note. However oh boy, I’ve began noticing these days.

The brand new Comixology app is essentially simply… annoying. That’s the most effective phrase for it. The whole lot you want remains to be there, however the design isn’t actually intuitive, and it could make a big assortment of comics (I’ve been utilizing Comixology since 2011) troublesome to navigate. It feels form of like once you go to the grocery retailer after they transfer aisles round. The whole lot remains to be there, however the change feels so dramatic after years of the acquainted.

However the place my native Meals Bazaar will helpfully label the aisles, Comixology has not. There are not any clear labels for helpful built-in instruments like its “Guided View,” which is designed to fluidly transfer you from panel to panel with a swipe as an alternative of getting every web page take up the entire show. The Guided View remains to be there, however the clear clarification of what it’s or methods to use it’s gone. You entry it by double-tapping — which I solely know as a result of I used to be making an attempt to entry the menu to go away the ebook.

But the actual ache of the brand new Comixology expertise is its retailer’s integration with the bigger Amazon retailer. Amazon’s all the time been a wrestle to navigate. There are the fake products, the sponsored advertisements, and typically even pretend merchandise in sponsored advertisements. Once I went to preorder the brand new Poison Ivy collection, concerning the DC villainess, earlier this month, I was instead met with salves used to treat poison ivy rashes.

Within the three weeks since, they’ve mounted that search consequence. The brand new ebook is now the highest consequence. The salves come after. The remainder of the Poison Ivy-focused books DC has launched through the years at the moment are “beneath the fold,” hidden till you scroll previous the sponsored junk you in all probability weren’t trying to find.

I’m in search of comics.

Different common heroes, like Spider-Man, Captain America, and Batman, return toy outcomes proper alongside the comics.

Comixology searches used to simply return comedian outcomes.

And look, these search outcomes weren’t precisely nice earlier than the merge. There need to be 1,000,000 variations on the Spider-Man title. If you happen to’re in search of situation 10 of a really particular Spider-Man run, you’re in all probability going to be sifting by way of lots of outcomes except you add extra to your question. However pre-Amazon merger, you weren’t additionally dodging outcomes for Amazon Prime TV exhibits, toys, salves and the rest Amazon thinks a searcher of Spider-Man comics may wish to purchase.

Utilizing the service now, you might be reminded, painfully, at each flip, that you’re in Amazon’s home and you’ll contemplate extra than simply the one factor you needed to purchase. It’s obtrusive and unsightly. And for months, I’ve griped out about it with associates and read about it whereas nodding in settlement and customarily accepted the unpleasantness.

However final week, I needed to learn a ebook within the Kindle app. I hadn’t used it shortly, preferring Libby once I can, however I knew I owned this ebook, and I knew I needed to learn it. Solely as an alternative of being met with the myriad of books I’ve acquired over a decade of utilizing the Amazon Kindle retailer, I used to be met with the myriad of comics I’ve acquired over a decade of utilizing the Comixology retailer.

I swear I learn intellectual comics typically.

There’s no approach to filter the comics out of my Kindle app. They’re all the time excellent there. The very first thing I’ve seen if I haven’t bought a ebook that week. It’s annoying on my iPad Mini. It’s downright offensive on my Android E-Ink pill and Kindle Oasis.

It additionally doesn’t need to be this fashion. Amazon is without doubt one of the largest and wealthiest firms on the earth. It has cash to spare on front-end consumer interface designers. It might kind this out rapidly. However I don’t assume Amazon has any inclination to. For probably the most half, Amazon is content material to take care of its e-book enterprise, not be precise leaders or good stewards. And it’s not simply the bonehead design selections that got here after merging its digital comics and e-book shops which have me feeling this fashion.

The Kindle lineup of e-readers now feels painfully outdated subsequent to one thing just like the Kobo Elipsa and Sage or principally the complete Onyx Boox lineup. These use the newest E-Ink shows and embrace fancy skills like quicker refresh charges for net shopping and stylus enter. The largest factor going for the Kindle lineup is the e-readers are comparatively low cost and work with Amazon’s retailer.

Amazon has left its most important book-recommending app, Goodreads, to wallow, too. The app doesn’t seem to have had a UI refresh since Amazon acquired it in 2013. The truth is, it appears to be like rather a lot prefer it did when it launched in 2007. Different apps, like Netflix, Fb, and Google, have grown highly effective utilizing their immense quantity of knowledge to develop algorithms that attempt to anticipate what you wish to learn or watch earlier than you do. Goodreads simply recommends no matter is common broadly and in a style vaguely adjoining.

From the shop to the advice service to the Kindle {hardware}, Amazon might do a complete lot higher. But it’s as if Amazon truly likes how little effort it has to exert over its huge monopoly to proceed raking in {dollars}. Earlier this 12 months, Comixology CEO David Steinberger left to “lead a brand new Amazon-wide initiative that’s too good a chance to not take.” In a Twitter thread, he assured he can be with Comixology in an advisory position. From the skin, it certain looks as if Amazon went and rewarded ineptitude with a promotion. I’d be extra aggravated, however I’m nonetheless looking for that ebook I needed to learn on my Kindle.


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