A big story we haven’t had time to cover is Wowio’s evolution under its new ownership (Platinum). So far, the reaction has been…well, less than they might have hoped for, with complaints about a cluttered interface, comics previously free not free any more, and many publishers pulling out due to the updated contract. This post by Johanna will bring you quickly up to speed. Leading the list of naysayers is the apostate D.J. Coffman, who found the new deal for creators less than he might have hoped for:

This was what set off alarm bells in my head initially. So, they’ll be using your content to generate pageviews that you have no way of accessing, nor do you know how much advertisers are paying, so you have to just trust whatever they say you made off of pageviews without any system of checks and balances mentioned. In light of Platinum Studios telling me that Hero By Night only generated 800 bucks in ad revenue for a webcomic that has been online since October 2006 and consistantly had the HIGHEST pageviews on all of Drunk Duck… I don’t have faith that they can either A. figure out real well paying advertisers, or B. tell the truth about how much they actually made off of web advertising revenue.

Sean Kleefield was also disheartened.

The free books that were being subsidized by advertising? Not quite so free any more. You still have the option to read it for free online, but this calls up a Wowio-specific in-browser reader that, while it behaves somewhat like Adobe Acrobat, prevents users from looking at the comics without being logged in. If you want a copy of the comic in question saved to your hard drive — where you might transfer it from one device to another, or try printing a copy — it will cost you. Issues that I’d already downloaded for free and have sitting on my computer now cost as much as $3.95 an issue. Public domain material, like Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein and Joe Kubert’s Out of This World Adventures, now run $.99 a piece. (These books and many others, I might add, are not only freely available here, but I believe is where Wowio is getting their copies from!) A number of other books I’ve seen are priced at $1.50, and I’ve seen a few at $3.95, not all of which are longer graphic novels. Obviously, this leads to some questions about pricing.

Perhaps most interesting is the take of David Rothman, whose Teleread blog covers ebooks in general — as a reminder, Wowio doesn’t just offer comics, they offer prose books from a variety of publishers as well, so this story covers a lot of territory. The title of Rothman’s post on the subject: Ad-cluttered Wowio e-book site: The uglier side of globalization—minus those classy free PDF downloads :

By contrast, Platinum’s advertising is so intrusive that I almost wonder if it’s part of a conspiracy to discredit ad-supported books.

Meanwhile here are a few of the companies you might want to complain to: Bomgar software (especially!), Vonnage, Hewlett Packard, Volkswagen, and Google, the latter of which should be ashamed of itself for cooperating with Platinum. Tell ‘em you want ads in Wowio books to keep ‘em free, but not quite so often. Is an ad almost always in sight when you watch television?

I would heartily suggest that the advertising community shun Wowio unless it promises more humane treatment of visitors in the future. As it happens there don’t seem to that many advertisers, or at least as viewed by me. It’s just that I keep seeing some of the same ones again and again. Sad. Is it partly because smart companies are already avoiding the reborn Wowio—preferring to see their products presented in a less cluttered environment?

In addition, Johanna indicates that there is a new D.J. Coffman, a fellow named Gerry who has been going around to blogs commenting on the new Wowio and defending the site. This wuld presumably be designer Gerry Manacsa.


  1. It’s nice that it’s opened up internationally, I have to say, despite whatever other issues are out there. I’m not sure why Wowio wasn’t able to do it under its previous ownership, but it’s a good move by Platinum Studios I think.

    The fact that I can now point acquaintances to Mark Smylie’s Artesia without them having to hunt down a graphic novel is especially gratifying. I haven’t really checked out the rest of the content, however.

  2. Many of the complaints seem to stem from a misunderstanding of how the site works. Few books available now isn’t Platinum’s fault. The publishers opted out of staying with the company. There is an option to download free PDFs but not for all books. Some apparently do have advertisers attached to them that allow for a free download, but you don’t know unless you click on the option to purchase and then it informs you that it can be downloaded as a “gift” from a sponsor. My own books don’t seem to have a sponsor attached for that option. I probably don’t receive enough views or hits.
    The high price for PDF downloads is the fault of the publishers who didn’t go into the system and adjust the prices. Before, publishers entered a price to display that reflected what a print copy cost. That same field now has to be changed to reflect what you wish to charge for a download. I changed mine as I was instructed to when the changeover was going on.

    I do wish the ad revenue sharing was clearer. I’m provided with a tally of free previews of my books but have no idea how much those views may be garnering for me. I’ve had a few paid downloads, but it isn’t keping pace with the royalty fees from the previous pay model.

  3. the free gift from sponsors option – only presents itself when there are sponsors available (just as the amendment stated) and you can see what free “gifts” are available by going to the library link on wowio and clicking the message above the queue that says you have free gifts. for instance, EA sports has sponsored one comic download PER person in correlation with madden 09. these sponsored gifts have nothing to do with whether your book is popular – they are sponsored for the entire section that it states.

    my biggest (and only) complaint on the new wowio system, is the month long wait between correct revenue earned from the “free” editions. apparently we make 20% of whatever revenue comes in based on page views – but what that EXACTLY is? i have no idea.

    they need to standardize this system because otherwise i can’t see advertisers (or readers and publishers) sticking around past this quarter and maybe next.