4 digital alternatives to Amazon’s new comiXology experience

Today is the first New Comic Book Day since Amazon’s big changes to comiXology went into effect last week. We’ve looked extensively at those changes and discussed some reactions from comics pros and fans, so now we thought it would be helpful to provide some alternatives for those who wish to avoid the new comiXology website and app completely.

Unfortunately, as The Beat’s Dean Simons mentioned in his post, there is no digital comics experience that is as smooth and high definition as comiXology once was (well, almost none). However, there are a number of other options that comics fans can use to avoid having to visit the new comiXology website. Here are four alternatives to comiXology that are available right now.

1. Publisher-Specific Digital Sites

Those who want to continue to build a digital collection can use a number of apps and websites set up by individual publishers to do so. Below is a long list of publishers and what their options are for buying digital comics. Many of these websites share links to comiXology to purchase comics there, but all of those links have, of course, now been broken.

Of note is DC Comicswhich currently has no non-comiXology option available for purchasing their titles digitally.

  • Dark Horse – Digital comics can be purchased directly from their website.
  • Dynamite – Digital comics can be purchased right from them.
  • Humanoids – Digital comics are available on their website.
  • IDW – Digital editions are available on their website.
  • Image – First issues of almost every series are available for free through their digital reader, but every other digital comic they offer is only available on comiXology.
  • Marvel – Digital comics are available to purchase and read in their app, which is built on the same framework that the original comiXology app was so it’ll look really familiar to you.
  • Rebellion – Digital comics are available through their website. The digital copies are in DRM-free form.
  • Valiant – Digital comics through their app.
  • Vault – This is a strange one, as links to digital single issues will send you directly to Amazon, but digital collections are available for purchase directly from the Vault site. There’s no explanation for this on their website, but physical copies of both are available on their storefront. Vault also offers a large number of their first issues digitally for free – browse the site and see what grabs you.
  • VIZ – This is also a weird case, since certain series are available digitally directly from the VIZ site, while others will send you to Amazon, Google Play, iBooks, or Nook. I assume this is due to the Shonen Jump subscription service, though it’s not very clear. Regardless, VIZ does not offer print copies from their own website.

The following publishers unfortunately only offer digital copies through Amazon, but I thought it would still be helpful to list, as it never hurts to remind readers of publishers that aren’t Marvel or DC.

  • Ahoy Comics
  • Aftershock
  • Archie
  • AWA
  • BOOM! Studios
  • Oni Press

Again, this list is not complete, but I’ve added as many options as I could find. I will continue to update as I find more or people let me know about them.

2. Publisher-Specific Subscriptions

There are also a number of publishers who offer subscription services for reading digital comics, though when using those you won’t ‘own’ the books. Marvel and DC Have their own apps/desktop experiences with extensive back catalogs, strong filters, and easy-to-use libraries for under $10 a month. DC Universe Infinite has a six-month wait between publication and upload of new comics, and Marvel Unlimited releases their comics only three months after release. I’ve personally used each service before and can say that they are well-worth the wait.

VIZ offers a separate subscription service specifically for Shonen Jump Manga, priced at $2 a month for new weekly comics. izneo is another subscription, though it takes comics from non-US publishers (plus a few US-based) and uploads them for users around the world at $8 per month. The website also sells digital comics separately for reading through their mobile app.

3. Humble Bundle

Pretty frequently, Humble Bundle will offer great deals for large bundles of DRM-free editions of comics directly through their website, so keep an eye out for those. Currently Humble Bundle has deals going for books from Rebellion and Dynamite, with proceeds benefiting different non-profit organizations.

4. Your Local Library

For readers who want to read digital comics and are fine with not owning them, and who don’t want to shell out for a publisher-specific subscription service, hoopla and Libby are library-based apps that allow for readers to check out five to ten books at a time, enjoy them, and then return them when done. Neither app is perfect (hoopla doesn’t have the best formatting and Libby doesn’t understand double-page spreads), but publishers usually upload new releases within a few weeks of coming out — some publishers even put titles on hoopla the same week of release — and make them available for free to readers. All you need is a library card and a participating library.

This only just came out within the past two weeks!

Of course, if you’re not seeing what you’re looking for in any of these options, and you’re open to a format change…

BONUS: Physical Comics from your LCS

Physical copies can always be procured from local comic shops for those who are able to safely visit them (shop local first if possible!), or their corresponding online storefronts. As mentioned in my previous post, I understand that this might be challenging for differently-abled people and those who do not live close to a shop, so it’s truly a last resort.

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