“From Batman to Superman,” Amazon announces on a new web page, “individual issues of your favorite comics are now available on Kindle.” And many of them cost just 99 cents — which is actually cheaper than the printed comic books! It’s a new direction for Amazon, and it may offer a hint about their hopes for the next generation of Kindles.
I’m surprised that these single-issue comics are only listed as available for the Kindle Fire and Android devices, since it’s also possible to read graphic novels on the Kindle Paperwhite and the regular $69 Kindle. But I’m guessing Amazon will extend their availability sometime in the near future — and in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying single issues of comic books using the Kindle app for my smartphone. Graphics seem to be a new priority for Amazon, maybe because they’re hoping to compete with Apple’s iPad tablets. Amazon’s release notes for their “Kindle for Android” app already brag that it supports “illustrated children’s books, comic books, and graphic novels, including fixed-layout books.”
Now with single-issue comic books, Amazon is trying to open up a whole new “category” of things you can download to your Kindle. Most of the titles are from D.C. Comics — I’m seeing Green Lantern, the Justice League, Batman, and a series called “Arrow” (following the character Green Arrow/Oliver Queen.) But I was also intrigued to see Swamp Thing and J. Michael Straczynski’s Before Watchmen: Moloch #1″. Amazon’s only showing 69 different comic books now that you can buy for your Kindle — but I’m guessing that’s because Amazon’s just opened this online store. In the months to come, they should be selling both new issues and back issues, which should expand the selection quite a bit.
In fact, every single one of the titles from D.C. Comics will be available for the Kindle, according to a press release last Wednesday. And they’ll also be available through Apple’s iBookstore and the Nook Store. “As e-readers and tablets continue to explode in popularity, it’s important for us to offer consumers convenience and choice in how they download digital comics and graphic novels,” said an executive from D.C. Publishing, “and these new distribution deals with the top three e-bookstores do just that.”
Right now I’m just happy that they’re headed in that direction – because there’s still a geek inside of me who enjoys reading comic books. There’s been a debate in the comic book industry about how the big publishers can increase their sales. But maybe Amazon’s offering their own answer: that comic books should “go digital”.