Where’s Wowio?

Wowio.com is down at the moment. The site says they are gearing up to go global, and that they will reopen in July. Over at The Beat, though, Heidi MacDonald thinks something else is up; she hears the company is going to be sold.

Wowio always sounded too good to be true. Customers get to download ebooks for free; creators get 50 cents per unique download. How do you do that? Ads, embedded in each book. The books themselves are PDF files with a number of built-in copy protections. T Campbell peeked under the hood in his blog last year and explained a bit about the nuts and bolts of the site.

A number of folks pop up in comments at The Beat to say that they have done quite well with Wowio. Probably the biggest winner is Chris Crosby, who says

I’ve posted WOWIO revenue numbers publicly before for my companies (Blatant Comics/Keenspot), so I have no problem with giving an update on that. Since last August we’ve made $93,624.50 from 186,736 WOWIO downloads.

wowio_w.gifChris’s properties are among the most popular on Wowio, but others post respectable numbers as well. Bill Williams, of Lone Star Press, estimates his company has taken in about $15,000, and he adds,

WOWIO far out-performs sites like Drive Thru Comics which is a pay-per-download site. I think that WOWIO has proven that giving away ad-supported books works better as a business model than the pay per download sites.

(Bill talked in more detail about Wowio to Johanna Draper Carlson earlier this year.) And Steve Horton says


I’ve been on the site since April 2007, and my company has made almost $28,000 since then, most of which goes straight to the creators I publish.

The weakness in the model may be finding sponsors. Commenter Ray Cornwall says that many of the ebooks he downloaded had no ads.

One of the things that interests me is that people like T Campbell and Phil and Kaja Foglio, who post webcomics for free, put their work on Wowio as well. The benefit to the reader is that they get to download the comic and keep it; the benefit to the creator, of course, is the money. The question is, is there enough of a benefit to the people who run Wowio to persuade them to keep it going?

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3 thoughts on “Where’s Wowio?

  1. Wowio is just plain awesome. If you’re not using it. Start. As soon as it comes back up, start using this amazing site.

  2. I agree: WOWIO is awesome. It is so nice to be able to download an ebook LEGALLY and know that both the publisher and author are going to get some money. Everyone wins with this system and no laws or regulations are broken. There’s no need to be download pirated copies when you can get the real McCoy (and of higher quality). WOWIO is fantastic and I hope when it returns, it continues to grow now by leaps and bounds.

  3. Slow down a minute. The placeholder page says they are “retooling” the content agreement.

    Reports say Platinum Studios, our most outstanding example of an IP Farm, is a likely buyer. They may already have closed.

    The previous comments suggesting a rush back to WOWIO should state that doing so without reading the new content agreement may result in loss of rights to your own work.

    I would love to use WOWIO, especially for my pre-internet archive, but not at the expense of creator’s rights. Be careful, and please update coverage as the facts come out.

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