This just in: Amazon.com reaches deal to buy comiXology

IN DECEMBER OF 2012, comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger told me: “Comics is big enough to be interesting, but not enough for bigger [digital publishing] companies to spend the time to do it right. We’re the only multiplatform provider of this type of material that [gives comics] the care and love they deserve.”

Now, Amazon sees financial worth in supporting that vision.

Amazon.com is announcing today it has arrived at a deal to buy comiXology, the company that, the press release says, has “revolutionized the digital comics reading experience with their immersive Guided View technology” — a reference to its panel-to-panel presentation of graphic narrative.

Amazon, in other words, “gets” what comiXology has accomplished — from technology to market share — since the comics company’s founding in 2007, and how it can continue on that trajectory.

“Amazon and comiXology share a passion for reinventing reading in a digital world,” David Naggar, Amazon’s vice president of Content Acquisition and Independent Publishing, says in the news release. “We’ve long admired the passion comiXology brings to changing the way we buy and read comics and graphic novels.”

“Working together, we look to accelerate a new age for comic books and graphic novels,” Steinberger says in the statement.

As a subsidiary, comiXology will remain based in New York in the wake of the purchase by Seattle-based Amazon. (Disclosure: Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos owns The Washington Post. But then, you knew that.)

Terms of the acquisition — expected to close in 2014′s second quarter, according to Amazon — weren’t disclosed.

comiXology, it should be noted, is a tablet powerhouse, featuring one of the most popular non-gaming apps on the iPad (comiXology’s app is also available on Amazon’s Kindle Fire). The company announced its 100-millionth comics/graphic novel download in late 2012, and its 200-millionth download last fall.

comiXology has been quite savvy at becoming the industry leader, partnering with more than 70 publishers — including Marvel, DC and IDW, and carrying such Andrews McMeel strips as “Big Nate,” “Dilbert” and “Doonesbury” — and touting its “buy once, read anywhere” approach.

“Our general vision,” Steinberger told me a year and a half ago, is to attract “anyone who might be interested in graphic storytelling, graphic novels and strips — to get anyone connected to the comic they like.”

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