Users of the Comixology app have reacted furiously to the removal of in-app purchases on Android and iOS, just weeks after it was acquired by Amazon.
Many comics creators have also reacted negatively to the change, pointing out that it removes one of the best ways for enticing new readers in to the medium.
The change means users of Comixology's iOS app have to make purchases using their web browser, either on their mobile device or a separate computer. Previously, they could simply click "buy" in the same app they used to read comics.
On the Android app, there are still payment options within the reader, but Google Checkout integration has been removed; users have to pay with either a stored credit card or Paypal.
Readers and artists blamed Amazon for the move, which avoids the 30% levy charged by Apple and Google on in-app purchases, but adds inconvenience for readers.
"Effective immediately," wrote Mark Waid, author of Superman, Daredevil and creator-owned hit Irredeemable, "the iOS app was being retired and replaced with one that stripped out (a) the easy, one-tap ability to make in-app purchases, (b) referrals to other comics you might also like to buy with one button-tap, (c) any indication of what you ought to read next if you were in the middle of a multi-issue storyline, and (d) everything that made the Comixology app a gateway for new and casual readers of comics."
Gerry Conway, the artist of some of the most iconic issues of Amazing Spider-Man and co-creator of the Punisher, concurred. "I became a regular reader because the store was right there, on the corner, and it was easy… You don’t make quick entertainment hard to access. You make it simple and easy — an impulse buy. Comixology’s in-app storefront did that.
"By forcing readers to leave the app," Conway continued, "Comixology has replaced what was a quick, simple, intuitive impulse purchase experience with a cumbersome multi-step process that will provide multiple opportunities along the path for the casual reader to think twice and decide, ah, never mind, I don’t really want to try that new book after all"
Comixology has not returned requests for comment, but given the timing of its acquisition, many – including Conway and Waid – believe the decision was, in the words of Waid, "handed down either by Amazon or Apple". It's unclear how any decision from Apple would have obliged Comixology to change the behaviour of the Android app.
In July 2011, Amazon made a similar change to its Kindle app, removing access to the Kindle store to comply with Apple's regulations on in-app purchases, which require companies to offer Apple's own in-app purchase method in addition to any other payment method with every app.
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