Graphicly, a startup best known for its digital comic book platform, is making some big changes to its overall business strategy.
How big? Well for starters, the company is shutting down its digital comic book marketplace apps today, yanking its iPad, iPhone, and Android applications. That announcement might make it seem like Graphicly is destined for the deadpool (not to be confused with Marvel’s merc with a mouth, Deadpool), but in reality, it’s actually a good thing, CEO Micah Baldwin told me in an interview for VentureBeat.
“We didn’t want to pursue our own marketplace because creators get a much better impact and higher sales when they don’t have to search for something, download an app, and then search again,” Baldwin said. Also, people are much more likely to check a tablet device’s native media store than they are a third-party store. “In our early testing, (selling from a device’s native digital store) has created a positive effect for publishers and creators, with books in the iBookstore outselling (those in an) iPad app by 5:1 — and in some cases outpacing their print equivalent.”
Shuttering the marketplace apps will allow Graphicly to focus all its resources on growing its distribution and self-publisher services, which have been growing by 300 percent month-over-month, Baldwin said.
Graphicly’s distribution and self-publisher toolset first debuted in January. Initially, the startup targeted self-published comic creators that wanted to make their work available for purchase across multiple digital stores. For a fee, the Graphicly team would take a PDF version of a creator’s book and convert it to the technical requirements of each digital store. The creator could also gather analytical data about the their work within all of those stores.
And although the company still welcomes indie comic creators, its self-publishing and distribution services can now cater to a much broader variety of visually driven works, including (but not limited to) children’s books, cooking & recipe books, picture books, textbooks, and more. In fact, about 40 percent of all works submitted to Graphicly can classified as non-comic books, Baldwin said.
For a fixed “conversion” fee of $150 per unit (unit = single book), creators can have their work available via the Apple’s iBookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Store, the Kobo Store, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store. Eventually, Baldwin tells me the company wants to expand the number of digital book stores it can distribute a creator’s book on. The company has reached out to over 200 digital book shops, including a handful of international platforms.
But self-publishing aside, Baldwin said the company will always keep its comic book roots in mind (even if it’s no longer the primary focus). And considering that Graphicly owns geeky comic book news site and podcast network iFanboy, I’d imagine that will hold true.
As for anyone who previously purchased comics through Graphicly’s marketplace, they can rest assure that they’ll still remain accessible through both Facebook as well as the company’s main website.
The Boulder, Colorado-based startup closed a $3 million funding round in January 2011 led by DFJ Mercury, with participation from 500 Startups, Dundee VC, Ludlow Ventures, and individual angel investors. The company was incubated by TechStars and previously raised $1.2 million from DFJ Mercury and others. It has 20 employees and has raised a total $4.2 million to date.
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