Fresh from a hectic week at the New York Comic Convention and still buoyed by the news of a $5.2M investment from venture capitalists True Ventures at the beginning of October, we caught up with Madefire CEO and co-founder Ben Wolstenholme to discuss what this money would mean for the future of Madefire funding and also the future of their unique brand of motion books in the coming year.
Tell us what the recent investment means for the future of Madefire? More titles? More contributors? Or just more opportunity for you to create books of the same quality that you have been for the last year?
BW: It means we will continue producing a bench-mark digital reading experience across the board with our own titles as well as third party publishers. We will also continue to deliver our studio content at a fairly regular bi-weekly delivery and up the ante with third party publishers–more announcements coming soon!
We are also using the funding to ensure that the Motion Book tool remains state of the art and is supported as it opens up to the deviantART community and creators at large.
Madefire have made their name with free comics, but will we see more titles become charged for like the recent Sherlock Holmes book and the IDW titles? Have you made a rod for your own back with this existing business model? How much of an effect has charging for issues had on sales and downloads?
BW: We will continue to experiment with price points with our own titles–as well as third party titles–to help build a marketplace. Ultimately, though, the majority of Madefire‘s own titles will remain free of charge for the immediate future as in building said marketplace it requires getting as many eyes possible on our content and growing awareness around Motion Books. We believe a more frequent lower priced unit is the right model and many publishers agree. We will host both paid and free content – publishers and creators set the price we have built it to work for both scenarios.
How successful have the IDW titles been so far? And when will we see the next batch of non-Madefire created titles? Will we see first-run titles from them produced at all or will it continue to be existing titles ported across?
BW: We’ve very pleased with how the IDW titles have performed and it’s a partnership we’re incredibly fortunate to have. And for the moment, we’ll continue working on their established library of content but who knows what the future could bring for original content.
One of the main issues I have felt which often holds Madefire back is the frequency of titles, will this investment help you release titles on a more regular
BW: Up until the past two months we have just been delivering our own Madefire content into the app – now we’re scaling with both third party publishers own board and growing as well as UGC.
The frequency of our material has remained bi-weekly consistently for over a year – now we have Star Trek, Transformers, My Little Pony and other every week – and much more to come.
What can we look forward to from Madefire in the next 12 months? And what would you like to achieve by this time next year?
BW: I think there’s an immense amount to look forward to–the full Motion Book Tool release, our evolving relationship with deviantART and 3rd Party Publishers, the development of User Generated Content, and an expansion in the core characters of the Madefire “Universe”. And that doesn’t even touch upon any possible platform scaling.
The Madefire app is free download for the iPhone and iPad and is packed full of fantastic motion books including the 2012 Digital Comic of the Year – Captain Stone is Missing. You can also view Madefire stories for free via DeviantART.