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app idea for webcomics

 
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mareofnight



Joined: 05 Jun 2014
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 4:52 pm    Post subject: app idea for webcomics Reply with quote

I'm thinking about making a mobile app for reading webcomics, and wanted to get some feedback before I proceed. (Apologies in advance if this isn't appropriate as a first post. I've been here before, I think as NightMare or something, but it's been a few years since I was active in the webcomics community.)

What I have in mind is basically just a comic reader that would have a cleaner interface than what you'd get by just going to the website (since many webcomic sites are a bit tricky to use on mobile), and automatically check for updates to the comics you read and download them for you. It would be opt-in for comic creators - no scraping peoples' websites without permission.

As a reader, would you be willing to pay a $5/month subscription for this? If not, is the price too high, or is this not something you'd spend money on at all?
(The reason I ask, is that I'd really like to implement some form of micropayments. $5 would be enough to pay each comic at least 10 cents per reader per month, and probably more - since I don't think very many people read 200 different webcomics at once.)

As a creator, would you want your comic to be on a service like this? What would be your reservations about doing it? What would you want to gain from it (readership size, convenience for readers, profit, etc)?

Also, does anyone even want to read comics on their phone? I'd think it could be a very good reading experience with the high-resolution screens most smartphones have these days, but I just don't know.

Thank you for reading. I really appreciate any feedback you're willing to give.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2014 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to burst your bubble, but Comic Chameleon already does this. I think there are others as well, but CC is the big one. I'm pretty sure they do payouts of some sort to the creators, but I'm not listed there and don't use the app myself (I don't have a smart phone or tablet) so I'm not certain.

As for whether people read on their phones or not, I have a small number of readers that read mine using a phone or tablet. Though my site isn't entirely mobile friendly since I don't have a good way to test that right now.

When you say ten cents a month... do you mean per person that reads that particular comic? Or ten cents per person who uses the app? Or just... ten cents?

As for reasons of whether I'd like to be on a service like that, yes I would. I'm not on CC right now because of their methods for listing comics is driven by fan bases. I have a small fan base, so I haven't tried (yet). But my reasons for wanting to be listed would be increasing readership and getting some money out of it.
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mareofnight



Joined: 05 Jun 2014
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm here just so I can have my bubble burst before spending months building this, so don't worry about doing that at all Smile Somewhat successful competition is actually really encouraging to see, though, since it means people actually want an app of this sort. I'd missed seeing Comic Chameleon because it's iphone-only, but I'll definitely look into it further, especially since it's a paid app. That's interesting that they don't take small comics; wonder why.

The payment would be per number of people who read your comic via the app per month - so if you had 100 readers, it'd be $10/month. (Probably with some math involved so that comics that sit unread on someone's favorites list all month don't get counted, and comics that someone reads often despite not adding them to favorites do.) So it'd more than offset the lost ad revenue from the comic's website if people were using the app instead. (I'm still sort of worried about lost opportunities for reader engagement, though - I might be able to include the blog entry that accompanies the strip if creators really want it, but a lot of the site's content would still be missing in that format.)

Thanks for your feedback, this is very helpful.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, I was thinking they had an Android version and were working on an iPhone version. That's actually backwards though, looks like they want to do a Kickstarter for the Android version.

I think the reason they don't accept all comics is because a) it's really not uncommon for webcomics to be abandoned and b) Pages have to be added manually. This page says you need to prepare individual panels, which makes me think it's like the Kindle comic publisher thing. How that works is you sort of draw a box around each panel and give it a tab order, so to speak, so the Kindle can zoom in on each panel and tapping lets you go to the next one without showing the whole page.

That's only a guess though. But it may be worth your time to look into what Comic Chameleon is doing there, since they'd be your competition. That does eliminate the crawler idea, though.

As for a blog entry, I don't know how you're thinking of organizing this, but maybe you could have them save one entry that comes up on the comic's profile? Then you could have comic creators log in somewhere to change that themselves. So it could be for special announcements or something.

If you're thinking of allowing readers to comment, you'd have to have a way to host that - then also worry about moderation, which may be too much for a (I'm assuming) one-man project. It may not be worth the trouble. Maybe just have a link to where the page is hosted online (on the creator's site)?
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, another thing. I agree that I don't think very many people read 200+ comics, though I know (by looking at some profiles on Comic Rocket, which is a web browser comic reader) there are some that read over a thousand. Depending on how many comics you get listed, it might be worth your time to look at what the average is from comic reader profiles.

And are you planning on hotlinking comics from the creator's site or hosting the image yourself? Having my images hotlinked would not interest me.
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mareofnight



Joined: 05 Jun 2014
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ideally, I'd want to download the images from the creator's site once when it updates (preferably with that automated somehow), and then have the users' phones downloading it from my server, since bandwidth seems to be a concern for comic creators.

I realized afterward I did my math wrong there anyway, 10 cents * 200 is $20 Mad $5/month would cover more like 40-50 comics at that rate, which probably isn't an unusual number. I've got some time to figure out the details of money splitting as I build it, though. Right now, I'm just trying to figure out if it's worth building at all.

Any chance you know of any forums etc. where I could ask these sorts of questions to comic readers? The landscape of the webcomics community has changed a bit since I left, and I'm not sure where people hang out these days. (The biggest question on my mind at this point is whether there are readers who think something like this is worth paying for.)
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 2923
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the big reasons people read webcomics is because they're free, so charging money could be a tough sell; having it free with a banner ad would be more along the lines of the typical webcomic model.

Considering that most apps are free, and the non-free ones are like $2 total, $5/month is probably way too much. A free app with banner ads and then an ad-free version for a one-time $2-or-so payment would be more in line with what people are used to paying for apps.

Before you can ask readers what they'd be willing to pay (asking here is about the only webcomic-reader-central place I can think of offhand, aside from forums on popular webcomic sites, or hm there's a long-running webcomic thread over on the somethingawful forums, I think, but you have to pay $ to use those boards, also I hear they love to flame noobs or something : D; oh, you could try the forums at webcomic host sites like SmackJeeves.com, ComicFury.com, or theduckwebcomics.com), you might want to be able to give them an idea of what the comic lineup might be.
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mareofnight



Joined: 05 Jun 2014
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback. I'm aware it's a tough sell, but if any significant portion of the people I ask think it's worth paying a monthly fee of some sort, then that tends to be a more profitable strategy than a one-time payment or banner ads. I haven't gotten nearly enough feedback to be sure yet, but I haven't ruled it out.

That's a really good point, that readers would care a lot about which comics it carries. I've actually been thinking about that, and realizing that if I want to have a "premium" product, the strategy I'd need to go for is getting as many comics on board as possible in the beginning, so that people can read what they want.

Thanks for the tip about comic forums. I'll check those ones out.
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