Digital comic distributor ComiXology announced today a series of internet storefronts that will allow brick and mortar comic shops to benefit from the rising tide of digital comic books. The Digital Storefront program was announced back in January and officially went live this morning. The program allows local comic book shops to sell digital comics via their own website and collect a portion of the profit from the sale. These digital comics will be readable on all ComiXology-powered apps on your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices as well as on the web directly on the comic shops’ websites. ComiXology currently provides comics from major publishers like DC Comics, Image, Dark Horse Comics, IDW, and many more.

David Steinberger, CEO of ComiXology, had this to say about the program:

“These retailers have put their trust in us from day one and we’re excited to make good on our commitment to bring them into the vibrant digital marketplace leveraging comiXology’s technology as a backbone for their success. We have been working hard with our retail and publishing partners to make this program a reality for the benefit of the comic industry and take pride in starting to see it come to fruition.  We look forward to continuing on this important initiative and celebrating its success with all of our partners.”

ComiXology’s project is directly in line with yesterday’s announcement from DC Comics’ co-publisher Dan DiDio. DiDio has been on a road-trip showing local comic shops how to set up stations within their stores to sell digital comics. Since DC Comics’ digital readers are a version of the ComiXology app, I would expect the two company’s initiatives to go hand in hand. It was already announced on the ComiXology blog that they would be selling DC’s ‘New 52’ day-and-date digital comics starting next week and that all of DC’s issues would be available on the newly opened digital storefronts.

I love the idea that these companies are cutting the local comic shops in on the profits from digital publishing but, as with anything in this business, I have to ask: who profits? Once ComiXology has converted the established comic-reading fanbase at the local comic shops from reading print to digital, what is to stop them from shutting down these digital storefronts and monopolizing the market with their own site?