Alicewinks is a multimedia version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It was conceived as an animated, portrait oriented video targeted to tablet computers (iPad, Android tablets). However, due to the vagaries of the market (Amazon and Apple do not accept vertical videos for sale), it was released on Amazon in November 2012 as 12 Android apps, one per chapter of the story. At the time Chapter 4 could be downloaded for free and the other 11 chapters were priced at $0.99. They were named AlicewinksLite Chapter X to highlight the fact that they were not the complete multimedia version of the story. Alicewinks was also made available through iBooks (Apple would not accept it as an app), including text and original illustrations, in May of 2013, and on Google Play (video only) in February 2013. The text and graphics (no video) is available on Amazon as an eBook (Amazon eBooks do not support video except on iPad and besides the file would be too large for them to support). The pure video mp4 has also available since August 2012 through a little-known video outlet called distrify.com.
Alicewinks in iBook format was submitted to Kirkus Reviews resulting in a starred review in May 2013. It was listed by Kirkus as a “Best eBook of 2013” in late December 2013, in two categories.
In July & August 2013, Walrus & Carpenter Productions LLC (W&C), the producer of Alicewinks (AW), sponsored a blog outreach through TapInfluence, a blog consolidator. In this campaign, 40 mostly female bloggers identified as appealing to Parents (“mom bloggers”) were commissioned to write a blog post and to amplify the posts on other social media (twitter/facebook/etc.) The primary focus was on the iBook version, but several of the bloggers were Android users and promoted the android apps. Starting in October 2013, W&C staff promoted AW on various social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter) and reached out to a number of journalists (resulting in two articles, one syndicated and one in Huffington Post.) The iBook was also submitted to Digital Book World for a 2014 Digital Book Award and was selected as a finalist.
In February 2014, after an upgrade of iOS 7, we discovered that a bug had been introduced to iBooks such that the hyperlinks no longer worked. In fact, they caused iBooks to crash. We reported this to Apple. It made little sense to us to do any serious marketing while the flagship version was not working, so active marketing was suspended. The iOS 8 release finally eliminated the bug in mid September 2014.
Marketing Holidays 2014
For the holiday season 2014, we decided to market by advertising in the Books section of the online version of the New York Times. This included banner ads in both mobile and desktop, an iPad specific banner ad, and a video ad that would display only in flash enabled devices (the only video they support.) This campaign ran from November 1, 2014 until Christmas. Approximately 500K impressions were made, resulting in about 1,000 clicks. In addition to this program, we ran a banner ad on Carisa Kluver’s “Digital Media Diet” blog from October through year-end, resulting in an additional 16K impressions.
The Alicewinks iBook was initially priced at $9.99. The AlicewinksLite Android chapter apps on Amazon were priced at $0.99 each (with Chapter 4 as a free app.) The Google play version was priced at $9.95 as was the mp4 on distrify.com. AlicewinksLite eBook on Amazon is $2.99 and AlicewinksLite on Audible.com (audiobook) is $6.95. During the 2014 holiday campaign, the price of the iBook was gradually dropped each week, from $9.99 to $4.99 to $2.99, and finally for the “Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday” weekend to $0.99. After Cyber Monday, the iBook price was left at $0.99 and the Google Play version was dropped to $0.99 and all Amazon Chapter apps except chapter 1 were dropped to free. (We have very little flexibility with the pricing of the Amazon eBook or the Audible.com audiobook.)
The Audible.com audiobook has had 5 lifetime sales, one of which occurred in the 2014 holiday season. The Google Play app has had no sales since September 2014, 12 sales lifetime with 3 cancellations. The Amazon eBook has had 3 sales, one on Christmas eve and the rest earlier in 2014. The iBook has had a total of 341 downloads, of which 239 were free. Most occurred in 2013 (226 free, 71 paid at full price) with 55 in 2014. Of the 55 downloads in 2014 (shortened sales year due to Apple’s bugs), 11 were free and of the 44 paid, 7 were at the $0.99 price, the rest full price. The mp4 on distrify.com has had 11 lifetime sales. The Amazon Android app “sales” through January 4, 2015 (mostly free downloads) are summarized in the following table.
It is extremely hard to get anyone to pay for a multimedia product independent of price or platform.