Friday, August 22, 2008

The Great American Review Week -

The Great American Review Week

Within the past year or so, the ability to read regular print comics in a digital format has tried to go legit from its BitTorrent incarnation. Back in '06, I wrote about my inability to read comics on the computer and that digital comics is not going to kill the print format in an old column at Movie Poop Shoot (Dreams In Digital).

But, that hasn't stop the Internet from trying to find a successful business model for the delivery of digital comics. One site called Wowio is one of those sites. When it first debuted, all of the comics were free online with the ability to download a max of three free books per day. Sure, the majority of the books were real small press but there were some gems (Lone Star Press for example). So, I joined and started re-reading the colored version of Pantheon (a great mini-series, by the way).

But suddenly in mid July, Platinum Studios bought the site, images and interface included, and brought the site down for about a month then relaunched last week. And my reaction was mixed to say the least.

On the good side, my queue of comics to download was pulled over from the old regime, which was nice. And there was an offer of a free $0.99 comic download in the form of a gift which was courtesy of one of the site's sponsors. But that's about it.

One major complaint is that the site is the same as it was before. That may not sound like a gripe but when you consider that all the new owners added was their books and started charging for PDF downloads, it's a dead breaker for me. I don't know how much the percentage of the sales are going to the actual creators. But if you just look at the surface, it seems like the new charges for the books are just going directly to the coffers of Platinum, which is very uncool.

Another problem that I see is that you can save/download the individual comic pages via jpegs to your hard drive when reading the book online. So, what do you think users will do when they learn that news? It just means less money that goes to the creators of these books; another check mark in the uncool column.

Lastly, the search engine on Wowio has issues. Like I said previously, I'm a fan of Lone Star Press and Pantheon, in specific. So, I decided to search for all of the books under that imprint. The results that I received were less than stellar as not one book was returned. The only way that I could find the books is to go directly to the Comic Books & Graphic Novels sub-directory and seeing a rotating ad for LSP, which means that any trust in the results from the engine is lost.

Overall, while all existing users still have their data exported from the old site and that you might get a free comic every once in a while, to pay for download that was free a couple of months ago at the same site with no realized added benefit to the user with a terrible search engine just doesn't add up. Wowio doesn't wow me at all.

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