An uncontroversial claim: People who like comic books really like comic books. So Google, a company obsessed with organizing information and bent of late on building a comprehensive media offering through its app store, would like these fans to spend their time with Google.
Ergo, today’s news: A new part of Google Play Books tailored for comics, with scrolling features and new ways to browse through the visual-heavy publications on mobile devices.
“Comic books are usually hugely popular,” said Greg Hartrell, the Play product manager leading the project. To demonstrate, Hartrell shared what passes for significant disclosure from the usually cagey Google: Readers of comic books flip through pages at twice the rate as regular Play Books readers. (Mind you, they aren’t reading Joyce; still, we can take Hartrell at his word that comic devotees are avid.)
It’s the first upgrade specifically designed for comic fans on Android. And a tricky one to do, says Hartrell, since comics, with their often dense, multi-volume canons, are hard to organize digitally. Google is working with the big name publishers, like DC Comics and Marvel, for curated series. And some niche yet popular publishers — “The Walking Dead” and the “My Little Pony” franchise, which is big for male fans, or “Bronies” (a thing) — are making their e-books free to inaugurate the launch.
Within Google, Play is seen as a potential revenue pillar as the growth in the search behemoth plateaus. To make it so, Google is trying to bolster its entertainment library to compete with Amazon and Apple. Judging from the limited figures we have, Apple is still well ahead in generating cash from its app store. Last month, Google added a feature for podcasting. In September, it “acqhired” the team behind Oyster Books, an e-books subscription service. They haven’t announced what that team is working on, but Google says it was not this comics initiative.
The newest feature is designed to bring in casual comics readers as well as the die-hards, which, Google hinted, tend to spend more. Hartrell wouldn’t say how much more, but offered this: “It’s fair to say that with more engaged readers, they do have a tendency to be more omnivorous consumers.”
Critically for Google, they’ll be doing the consuming on its properties. “It’s a great experience without having to install another app,” Hartrell said.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.