Ramblings of General Geekery

Graphicly: Continually Evolving For Content Publishers

Graphicly just announced a dramatic change of direction:

In challenging ourselves to think broader and wider, we stumbled on a very simple idea: the best place to sell books is in a bookstore. It’s an idea that’s worked for hundreds of years in the real world, so why not extend that to the digital world. Additionally, with close to a hundred million installs of Kindle, iBooks, Nook and others (and not to mention the close to a billion Facebook users) it makes complete sense to provide a platform for publishers and creators to take advantage of those native marketplaces.

They’re basically dropping out of the digital comics store race to focus on helping publishers digitize their content and delivering it on existing, well-established digital stores.

It means I did well not to buy any books on Graphicly and recommending to always go through a publisher’s official store. However, it sucks for people who did buy books on their app. The Graphicly app won’t be available for download anymore, and unless you still have it on your tablet or phone, you will have to read your comics on the web reader. Since it’s not uncommon for a smartphone or tablet to have a problem that forces a factory reset of some sort, or for a user to upgrade to a new portable device, it means those previously purchased comics are lost — who wants to read comics in a browser, and how long until Graphicly eventually unplugs all those servers that only lose money?

Although I wish the Graphicly guys all the best, it’s a harsh reminder that digital goods, for all the advantages they have on traditional goods, come with a lots of problems when they are locked into an ecosystem (whether it’s with DRM or just web-service obfuscation). I hope that we’ll see the same kind of revolution we’ve seen with digital music — but in the meantime, it reinforces my opinion that you should use whatever means necessary to get yourself a personal backup of anything you buy online.