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.
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.