Amazon began laying off 18,000 employees on Wednesday., including a majority of its workers at its Comixology service. The news that much of the Comixology team had been laid off spread quickly on social media Wednesday, with some former employees claiming that the department had been cut by up to 75%. Former ComiXology founders David Steinberger and John D. Roberts, who sold ComiXology to Amazon, had the following to say in response to the firings.
— David Steinberger (@stonemtn) January 18, 2023
Saddened to hear of all the cuts at @comiXology and @amazon. The crew at comiXology are some of the best people I ever worked with, this is truly a loss. Happy to help if I can so please, feel free to reach out
— John D. Roberts 🟣 (Please insert $8) (@johnnystorm0) January 18, 2023
Closer to 75%.
The majority of the employees are gone.
— Scott (@CocktailsAndInk) January 19, 2023
Comixology is a subsidiary of Amazon’s Worldwide Amazon Stores, which has suffered the majority of the layoffs thus far. When asked for comment, an Amazon representative referred to a memo from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy dated January 4, where he said the following:
Between the reductions we made in November and the ones we’re sharing today, we plan to eliminate just over 18,000 roles. Several teams are impacted; however, the majority of role eliminations are in our Amazon Stores and PXT organizations.
PXT is simply an acronym for Amazon’s People Experience and Technology Solutions, so the memo wasn’t very specific. Amazon has been shutting down several services and products in order to cut costs in the midst of the broader tech downturn. But according to reports, every single job at Comixology is being eliminated. The entire division is being laid off in three segments. Some were let go this week, another tranche will leave in June after they’ve fulfilled obligations to their publishers, and the last remnant is expected to stay on until October to clean up any other issues due to the migration from the original Comixology site.
Amazon itself has much bigger problems.
Meanwhile many of Comixology’s competitors, such as Marvel’s digital library Unlimited, are subscription services that only offer comics from one publisher. Comixology was the only game in town when it came to a single digital storefront for most, if not all, of the comics on American store shelves.
Comixology is a cloud-based digital distribution platform for comic book electronic copies founded in 2007 and was purchased by Amazon in 2014. Comixology provides digital copies of both American comics and manga to readers via cloud servers on browsers and mobile apps. Comixology was already far and away the leading distributor of digital comics when Amazon bought it, with frequent flash sales and freebies that made it an appealing option for budget-conscious readers.
Following the acquisition, Comixology continued to operate as before, via both Amazon and its own website. In 2016, it launched its own subscription service, Comixology Unlimited, which offered a selection of comics from multiple publishers to read. Comixology started offering original creator-owned titles on the service in 2018. In 2021, Amazon announced plans to close Comixology.com in favor of fully integrating the site into its Kindle division, but the change was postponed due to “community feedback.” Over the past couple of years, Amazon has severely stumbled in their handling of the service, in fact they’ve effectively broken the app with ‘upgrades’… multiple times.
Most people are right to interpret these layoffs as a result of the integration of ComiXology into Amazon Kindle. Amazon always intended to eliminate it after they bought it. Unfortunately for readers, Amazon effectively rendered the reading experience worthless and all but destroyed the service in the process. DC and Marvel’s subscription services are cheaper and better and include massive libraries that a majority of ComiXology customers were reading.
This may be the end of the service altogether. Let this be a reminder to us all that physical media is still king.