Amazon subsidiary Comixology has just launched a $5.99 per month “Comixology Unlimited” comic reading subscription plan, featuring thousands of comics from major publishers. None of those publishers are Marvel or DC, but they do include Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom! Studios, Oni Press, Kodansha, Fantagraphics, Valiant Entertainment, and others. It includes some fairly popular titles, too, including Saga, Scott Pilgrim, Attack on Titan, and The Walking Dead. So, is this $5.99 a month a ticket to unlimited binge reading and catching up on complete runs of your favorite comic as you could do for your favorite TV series on Netflix?
Well…not quite. In fact, while there are a diverse range of comics available, they by and large constitute just the first plot arc or so. Comixology Unlimited is more in the nature of a $6 per month sample platter. Comixology seems to want to get you hooked on a series so you’ll then go out and spend your own money to read more of it. So, while it might be “unlimited” in the number of issues you can read per month, you’ll soon run up against the hard limit of the end of available issues on a series, and have to shell out extra to read more in it. Titles will cycle in and out from month to month, but I doubt that cycling will include the complete run of any of them. At least Marvel Unlimited actually seems to offer complete runs of its own comics, for the most part, though it is more expensive now.
But then, that’s sort of how comic books work—they sell lots of them for a few bucks each. If they’re going to keep running, they can’t get by on charging just a few dollars a month for truly unlimited reading. They have to get their revenue somewhere.
We’re starting to reach a point where the number of proliferating media subscription plans is a little ridiculous. It’s entirely possible to pay $50 a month or more for music, movie, e-book, and game services that you simply don’t have enough free time to make efficient use of. For all that we’re fighting for cable companies to unbundle their channels, it might be a good idea if someone figured out a way for all these subscription services to bundle their offerings, to make accounting easier and hopefully save a little money.