US publisher Platinum Studios has announced the global relaunch of the ad-funded e-book distribution service WOWIO (www.WOWIO.com), which was recently acquired by the company that also runs the web comics portal DrunkDuck.com.
WOWIO was founded with the vision of giving readers access to an immense library of ebook titles free of charge, with creators getting 50 cents per unique download. Earnings were generated through ads embedded in each book with the books themselves provided as PDF files with a number of built-in copy protections. (T Campbell, one of the people originally involved in WOWIO, peeked under the hood in his blog last year and explained a bit about the nuts and bolts of the site).
When WOWIO went offline in June, promising to return soon, Heidi Macdonald, over at The Beat was among a number of US comics journalists who offered the first inkling that the company was being sold, and several creators posted comments, revealing they had done quite well with the service. Probably the biggest winner was Superosity creator and Chris Crosby, co-runner of the Keenspot web comics portal, revealing he had earned some $93,624.50 from 186,736 WOWIO downloads since last August, while Bill Williams, of Lone Star Press, estimated his company through WOWIO has earned about $15,000.
With Platinum’s acquisition of WOWIO, the service has added several new features for consumers, including free browser based viewing capability enabling viewing on both computers and mobile devices. The new features also provide the ability to browse offerings without registering and a revamped and simplified registration process allowing consumers to store, share and gift downloadable ebooks, and an unrestricted ability to download as many ebooks as desired.
Platinum say the new set of features for publishers include the ability to reach a worldwide audience via the browser-based viewer, the ability to download to a global audience and access to multiple streams of revenue from display advertising, sponsored widgets, directed e-commerce opportunities and personalized gifts.
Prior to the acquisition and relaunch, WOWIO had over two million downloads in just over a year, and Platinum expects that the new features and capabilities will expand that reach.
Existing partners include Rosetta Books, a pioneer in electronic reading, Arcturus Publishing, the UK-based publisher of the best-selling 3D Thriller series, Soft Skull Press, an independent book publisher and British comics publisher Markosia, which also supports seveela other digitial comic initiatives such as myebook.com and ROK Comics.
Platinum say the improved services and a new accessibility to an international audience positions WOWIO to become a leading global destination for ebook distribution — although some concerns have been raised about the new contracts for the service, as reported by Johanna Draper Carlson on Comics Worth Reading.
As a publisher with our own content on WOWIO, we saw the potential of the WOWIO business model to bring unique and lasting value to all of their publishing partners in both the comic and traditional book publishing sectors,” says Platinum Studios President and COO, Brian Altounian, who spearheaded the acquisition. “The acquisition and subsequent global expansion of WOWIO was a logical next step in our goal to expand our digital distribution capability.
“As WOWIO takes its model to a global audience, we are most excited by the reception that we are receiving from publishers, corporate sponsors, and ultimately our readers, all of whom acknowledge that with our next generation business model, WOWIO is able to bring valuable ebooks to a much broader audience,”said Dr. David Palumbo, WOWIO’s CEO.
“We are excited about this next phase in our partnership with WOWIO as they increase access to our content through their global distribution,” said Arthur Klebanoff, CEO of Rosetta Books. “In the time that we have been involved with WOWIO, they have brought us several innovative ideas, and this truly collaborative effort has helped to expand our digital strategy.”
• The newly relaunched WOWIO is at www.wowio.com.