I sent an email to Eric Reynolds, the associate publisher at Seattle's Fantagraphics Books, to ask about how his company dealt with the so-called "Netflix of Comics," Amazon's Comixology Unlimited program. Did they alert their creators about the program before it was announced? Do those creators have the right to withdraw from the Unlimited program if they're unhappy with it? Here is Reynolds' response in full:
I did not consult with individual creators, but as with all of our digital sales relationships (subscription or otherwise), I've made a point to enter into non-exclusive and non-binding contracts that allow us to remove any titles at a moment's notice from any platform, in the event that we as a company or an individual author decides they want no part of it (thus far, it's never happened).
I had been approached by a few companies over the past couple of years who have been trying to get a subscription model off the ground, and to be honest, I've resisted for a variety of reasons.
That said, I decided to dip our toes into Comixology's program because I think it is frankly the best positioned to gain traction in the marketplace. We'll see. We are offering a limited selection of backlist -- no frontlist. No frontlist was my primary "demand" in negotiating with Comixology, and they were completely accommodating.
So, yeah, we'll see how it plays out!
(A quick note for those of you who are unfamiliar with book industry terminology: "frontlist" basically means "new releases," the kind of books you'll find at the front of bookstores on display tables and bestseller displays.) Soon after emailing, Reynolds sent a followup message just to clarify a point:
I should also add: I only included titles that we already had rights to sell digitally. Obviously, if we didn't have those rights, then a conversation would need be had. That should go without saying, but just in case.
I'll let you know if Image Comics releases a statement on how they involved their creators in Comixology Unlimited.