by Brian Truitt)
Amazon is making a big move in the growing world of digital comic books.
The online retail titan announced Thursday it was acquiring ComiXology, the top platform in digital comics. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.
Amazon offers issues and collections of series as part of its Kindle app, but the new deal lets them corner the market on digital comics. ComiXology offers a library of old and new superhero comics from DC Comics and Marvel Comics, plus content from more than 75 publishers, as well as independent creators through its ComiXology Submit initiative.
The Seattle-based online company has admired ComiXology and its reader experience for years, said David Naggar, Amazon vice president of content acquisition and independent publishing. He called ComiXology's panel-to-panel "Guided View" technology "the Rolls-Royce in the space."
"It felt like a really strong ability for us to work together and learn from each other," Naggar said.
ComiXology will continue to exist as a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon based in New York City, says CEO David Steinberger, who co-founded ComiXology in 2007.
"What's great about this for me is that Amazon recognized we were doing some great work in comics, and we had a great consumer experience," said Steinberger, adding Amazon has a reputation for taking care of purchased companies such as IMDB and Zappos.
Naggar said there is no timeline for consumers on either the Kindle platform or those with the ComiXology app to notice a difference in their reading experiences. "ComiXology is a strong, healthy business," he said. "There are no plans beyond seeing what we can do to help that business grow, and see what are the ways ComiXology can help Kindle, as well."
Since he launched ComiXology, Steinberger said his aim has always been to diversify and make it easy for people to start reading comics — and it's worked, with ComiXology being the top-grossing non-game iPad app of 2012 and 2013.
With the box-office boom of recent superhero movies and comic-book TV shows such as The Walking Dead and Arrow, though, Steinberger feels it's not just a golden age of digital comics but for all comics.
"Our new buyers are trending younger, more female and they're buying print comics very quickly after buying their first comic ever digitally," Steinberger said. "We believe very firmly that digital is expanding the market and can be a force for good in general."