Over the past few months, Graphicly started to abandon its vision of becoming the “iTunes of comics” and instead focused on digital publishing tools for comics and other image-heavy books. Today it’s fully committing itself to that strategy, shutting down the comic store apps that it offered on both iPhone and Android.
CEO Micah Baldwin says that decision reflects the difficulties of launching a marketplace app in the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace — you face your own challenges attracting users to those app, then only a fraction of those users are going to purchase any individual title.
“The more we thought about it the more we thought having a marketplace within a marketplace is not a strong long-term strategy,” he says.
Meanwhile, Graphicly’s digital publishing tools — which are optimized for titles with a strong visual component, and which allow authors and publishers to release their books to platforms like the iBookstore and the Kindle market, then see readership analytics — seem to be taking off. More than 1,000 customers have signed up for the product and published more than 2,100 books. Revenue is increasing 300 percent month-over-month. And nine out of the top 10 graphic novels on Apple last week were published through Graphicly, Baldwin says.
When I spoke to Baldwin a month ago, he said he was starting to see interest from non-comics authors and publishers, but now he tells me the growth has “gone a lot faster than I anticipated.” Forty percent of titles published through Graphicly aren’t comics, and that number will probably grow — after all, Baldwin notes that cook books alone are a much bigger market than comics, even before you factor in things like children’s books and art books.
Graphicly isn’t completely abandoning the marketplace strategy, because readers can still buy titles on its website. And Baldwin isn’t ruling out the launch of new apps in the future. For now, however, abandoning the iPhone and Android apps seems like the best way to focus on what’s working.