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The announcement late last month that digital distributor Graphicly would close and its key employees join self-publishing platform Blurb was met immediately by questions, many of which centered on whether the company’s clients will be paid what they’re owed.
Originally envisioned as “iTunes for comics,” Boulder, Colorado-based Graphicly was soon overshadowed by competitor comiXology, and in 2012 shuttered its comics app to focus instead on providing visually based books and comics to eBook platforms. In its most recent incarnation, Graphicly was a digital conversion and distribution service: For a fee of $150, the company would convert a comic to ePub and other formats and distribute it to digital platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iBooks. Graphicly would then act as middleman, collecting money from sales on those platforms and passing it along to the creators. Unlike other digital comics distributors, Graphicly didn’t take a cut of sales on eBook platforms, just the upfront fee.
Since Graphicly announced its closing on May 27, a number of creators have asserted publicly that the company wasn’t tracking sales correctly and hasn’t paid them what they’re owed from sales. Bleeding Cool spoke to Dave Dellecese and representatives of Th3rd World Studios, as well as a former Graphicly employee. At The Beat, Marc Ellerby and Mike Garley told similar stories, and Eric Grissom and Dara Naraghi added their names in the comments. Ellerby tweeted:
In what VentureBeat dubs an acqui-hire, digital comics distributor turned eBook distributor Graphicly will shut down as its key employees, including co-founder Micah Baldwin, join self-publishing platform Blurb.
“None of the assets per se are coming over, but we are talking to publishers who were on Graphicly,” Baldwin told TechCrunch. “We are hopeful that Graphicly users will take their content and manage it with Blurb, and maybe print their books there, too.”
A digital-comics pioneer, Graphicly was initially envisioned as “iTunes for comics,” a phrase commonly associated with competitor comiXology, which, aided by early deals with Marvel and DC Comics, came to dominate the market. Graphicly, which for nearly three years owned comics news/podcast site iFanboy, announced in April 2012 that it would move away from distributing comics on its own app and instead focus on providing visually based books and comics to eBook platforms like Apple’s iBooks, Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.
“After spending four years working on digital publishing, it became clear that we were telling half the story,” Baldwin said in a statement. “Print is not dead, it’s wildly important in the natural growth of creators, but it too is only half the story for self-publishers now. Combining the best in class print platform from Blurb, with all the ebook learning the Graphicly team has accrued over the past four years, was just too compelling an opportunity to pass up.”
According to Blurb, the addition of the six Graphicly employees will double the size of its eBook team.