Specifically, Scribd is adding more than 10,000 comics and graphic novels from publishers including Marvel, Archie, Boom! Studios, Dynamite, IDW/Top Shelf, and Valiant.
Julie Haddon, Scribd’s vice president of editorial and marketing, argued that the all-you-can-read model can be a particularly appealing way to catch up on a comic book character’s long history. For example, one of my TechCrunch co-workers was talking about how much she liked the Captain America movies and wanted recommendations on where to start with the comics — Haddon noted that Scribd will have Captain America comics spanning from “the classic Jack Kirby issues to the recent Ed Brubaker run.”
Haddon gave me a quick demo of what the updated app will look like. Comics will be available as a new section, with Haddon’s editorial team creating special character guides and collections to help readers to navigate what might otherwise be an overwhelming number of titles. After all, going back to the Captain America example, the issue isn’t just getting access to all those comics, but also knowing where to start.
The actual comics reading experience looks solid, with the ability to view whole pages and zoom in on individual panels, if not quite as slick as the “Guided View” experience developed by Amazon-owned Comixology. (Disclosure: My roommate works for Comixology.)
Oh, and the types of comics will differ from publisher to publisher, with some providing access to new issues in Scribd and others limiting their offerings to older collections. (Scribd, along with its competitor Oyster, has mostly been limited to older, backlist titles in its deals with major book publishers.)
I don’t want to downplay the quality of the independent comics publishers, but landing Marvel as a partner seems particularly impressive, given the broad, movie-fueled interest in Marvel superheroes. Plus, Marvel already has a subscription comics offering of its own, namely Marvel Unlimited, which charges $9.99 a month. (To be clear, Marvel Unlimited still offers more Marvel comics than Scribd.)
“Marvel Comics is thrilled to be invited to include some of its top-tier comic books within Scribd’s service,” said David Gabriel, Marvel’s senior vice president of print and digital publishing, in an emailed statement. “With such a vast catalogue of enjoyable and eclectic content that Scribd provides to its subscribers, it’s only fitting for the Marvel Universe to be the premier provider of graphic fiction with 500 available Marvel collected editions within Scribd.”
On the other hand, if you’re a DC Comics fan (disclosure: Superman is the best) you might be feeling a little left out. Haddon didn’t discuss Scribd’s future plans, but it’s worth noting that when the company first publicized its Netflix-style e-book service in 2013, it had only signed up one of the “Big Five” US publishers. Now it has three.
Scribd, which recently raised a $22 million round led by Khosla Ventures, says its library now includes more than 1 million titles.