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Ebook + Print Bundling? Who’s In and for what books?


Electronic book reader tied up with red ribbon with stack of books

Amazon introduced Kindle Match Book, an ebook and print bundling service for authors and publishers. Participating publishers (including self published authors here) can offer a digital version of their book for a greatly reduced price.  For self published authors, the prices are $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free.  For larger publishers, they may be able to negotiate a higher price for the digital version of the kindle match.

Back in 2012 Angry Robot offered digital copies for free with each physical book sale.  The result was a tripling of physical book sales.

Angry Robot’s sales manager Roland Briscoe and Mostly Books’s Mark Thornton [wrote] about the lessons of the experiment. Briscoe talked about giving readers what they said they wanted—the permanence of a physical copy plus the convenience of an electronic edition. Thornton discussed being able to woo e-book fans back to the bookstore fold so they can enjoy the discoverability of seeing titles in person but still be able to read them on their favorite electronic platform.

Angry Robot announced  a week ago that they were bringing “Clone Files” to the US but only to participating independent bookstores.   Before Angry Robot, however, O’Reilly released ebook and print bundles in 2008. For approximately $1 or so more, a purchaser could get a copy of the digital file as well as the print book when purchased directly from O’Reilly.

In 2010, Barnes & Noble discussed the issue but I’m not sure what came of it.

Barnes & Noble will begin testing the sale of bundledprint books and e-books in the next 60 to 90 days, Barnes & Noble.compresident William Lynch said at yesterday’s AAP annual meeting. Under the plan,B&N will offer customers who buy a print edition at one of their stores theopportunity to buy the e-book at a discount. Prices will be worked out indiscussions with publishers, Lynch said, adding that B&N’s aim is to makethe transaction with consumers as seamless as possible.

The problem with bundling is that most traditional publishers see the digital format as simply that, another format. You wouldn’t bundle a mass market with a hardcover and therefore you wouldn’t bundle a digital book with a print book.  Given that large media companies are trying to get customers to dip into their pockets for not one copies, but maybe three or four, it may be that bundling just doesn’t fit with the corporate media think. After all, Paramount is trying to get die hard Star Trek fans to buy several versions (totalling $102.98) of Into the Darkness by offering exclusive features to different retailers.  Best Buy and Target have special bonus tracks and iTunes was given the audio commentary.

For some of the books its carrying, Target is asking for exclusives. Extra chapters or novellas bundled into the novel exclusive to Target stores. The idea is the same as Mostly Books’s Mark Thornton expressed – to get customers into their stores.

But for all of Paramount’s desire to squeeze every last nickel out of Star Trek superfans, many production companies offer the digital download with the purchase of the HD or Blu-Ray DVD.  Customers are faced with buying a lower priced standard DVD or a higher priced Blu-Ray DVD with a digital download code.  I couldn’t find any solid information whether this was increasing the sales of Blu-Ray over Standard or driving consumers to buy the physical item.

Observing the indie world, there are signings all over the country for indie authors and these signings seem well attended from the initial Chicago authors signing tour to Boston to Book Bash to the Naughty Mafia in Las Vegas.  Authors bring print copies of the digital books that made them stars and sell them on site. Readers are forming intense relationships with the characters of the books and the physical book is one important component of that ongoing relationship.

Here’s the breakdown of who I see buying a bundled book:

  • New readers who don’t have big personal libraries.
  • A dedicated digital book reader who has a list of authors she loves, authors she buys in hardcover without flinching.
  • Print book readers who are intrigued by digital books.

What about you? Are you interested in bundles? What kind of reader are you?


Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Mikaela
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 04:23:10

    I am interested, but only for select authors on my autobuy list.

  2. Gina, book dragon
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 04:35:15

    Nothing beats the comfort of print, except maybe the convenience of digital. I’d do bundles.

  3. Laura Florand
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 06:43:49

    It can also be a courtesy, I think. For example, for self-published novellas, it can be really hard to keep the print price down to anything reasonable. (Snow-Kissed is 122 pages, but the lowest I could make the print was $6.49. That seems outrageously high to me, from a reader-buyer standpoint.) But there are readers who are attached enough to print to want it anyway. And I guess I see it as a courtesy gesture to let them have the ebook included in that price, too, if they want it.

    I don’t know that I think it’s going to increase print sales, but I think it might be a pretty popular option for those who were going to buy the print anyway. Definitely if it’s included free (unless you have no ebook device at all, why not?), and probably very popular also for 0.99 extra, although as I said, given the pricing floor for paper, I just set mine to be free for now.

    I think it rolls out in October.

  4. Lisa J
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 07:00:55

    My reading is all digital these days, but I can see this as something my mom and aunt would like. My mom has an e-reader, but my aunt is strictly paper. They love the same books and I often order/download a book for one that the other has recommended. Being retired, they would love to split the cost of the book, plus they both rave about books they love to their friends and their friends usually end up buying the book(s).

  5. Janine
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 07:24:39

    @Lisa J: I was just going to suggest that I can see purchasing bundles for select titles and giving the print book as a gift to friends without ereaders while keeping the ebook version for myself.

  6. Lisa J
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 07:31:08

    @Janine: Another good idea, especially if they did this with children’s books.

  7. ReadingPenguin
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 07:32:48

    There are times when I would really enjoy a “bundle option”. For series that I’ve been following for a long time, if I started collecting them in print I feel the need to continue buying the print versions. They look nice on my shelf and the satisfaction of “completing the set” cannot be overlooked. However, when it comes to actually reading, there are circumstances like traveling and commuting when I much prefer my Kindle. So yeah, this would be the best of both worlds for me.

  8. SAO
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 07:33:57

    I can definitely see buying the bundled e-book for myself when I give a physical book as a gift. Otherwise, I don’t see the point. If my daughter had an e-reader, it would allow her to share books with her brother without the problem of physical sharing, but she’s a traditionalist.

  9. Laurla
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 07:44:01

    @ReadingPenguin: I agree with this. There are certain authors and/or series that I would buy as bundle with the print version that I probably would only by the digital right now. Since I made the switch to digital reading, I’ve almost totally stopped buying print – but if I could get both for a single price in those favorite authors/series, I would do it in a heartbeat.

  10. AH@badassbookreviews
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 08:16:28

    I like the idea of bundling a print book with the ebook. Some books do not translate well to ereaders (or maybe just my ereader), and the print copy looks so pretty on the shelf. However, the convenience of the ebook takes precedence – I can travel with my entire library.

    From a consumer’s point of view – I hate paying for the same thing twice. If I bought a book, it would be wonderful to have the ebook as well.

    I think that this bundling of ebook/print would make me look more carefully at that publisher’s list of books.

  11. Nikki
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 08:38:16

    I think I already do this for some authors. Though the discount would be a nice option because buying hardcover and the ebook can be around $30+. The only reason I do it most of the time is that the print book is often severely discounted enough to make the purchase much less expensive.

    The reason that I switched to ereading primarily was because after nearly 10 years of moving I was tired. I suspect if I had stuck with print I would not have room to walk around in my apartment. As it is the books I could not let go of are still taking up a ton of space.

    So, I would be somewhere around type 2 – I would need to LOVE this author but I wonder if you would end up paying more than without the bundling. Does the print book also come at a discount? If not, it makes it a more profitable option for the publisher and bundling company.

  12. Laura Florand
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 09:04:15

    @Nikki: What Amazon is doing is allowing publishers/authors to offer the reader who buys the print version the option to get the ebook in addition for a free or low price. I’m not sure how it will look when you are buying the book, once this rolls out in October–maybe something like the “get the audio” option you see now? But it isn’t being set up in the reverse.

    That is, buying the ebook doesn’t give you a discount on the print. Buying the print, at whatever its current price is, gives you the option of a free/discounted ebook. Whether it’s completely free or you pay 0.99-2.99 etc depends on the publisher and/or author selection.

    Does that make sense? With my self-published books, I can set it up that those who buy a book get the ebook free (or for 0.99 or whatever I set it to be), but I can’t set it up so that those who buy the ebook get some kind of option for a lower cost print book. The “bundling” is an add-on to the print purchase, not an add-on to the ebook purchase.

    If I’m at all clear . . . :) There have been discussions all over various lists since this option was made available, so if I’m getting something wrong, anyone should feel free to correct me, of course.

  13. library addict
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 09:17:29

    There are a few authors I buy in both print and digital. But they are long-time autobuy authors for me and with one exception I usually wait to get the hardcover on sale. One of the main reasons I went digital is because of lack of shelf space for my print books. So bundling in general is not something I am interested in.

  14. Christine
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 09:19:24

    I wouldn’t necessarily be interested in this for mass market paperbacks or hardcover novels as I am 100% an ereader now for a few reasons, but a big one is space. Every surface of every bit of free wall space is covered in bookshelves and books as it is. The paperbacks I have bought over the years (thousands of them) have yellowed and the glue has dried out despite being shelved and kept out of sunlight. I love reading on my iPad or kindle. I would however, love this option for larger, more expensive hardcover books such as Art books, manuals, collectors guides etc and things people would consider “coffee table books”. I’d love to have the sturdy, larger and durable hardcover book ( or larger paperbounf book) for reference and a portable one available in eformat on my iPad/Kindle.

  15. Melissa
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 09:20:56

    Bundling = not for me.

    I’ve been a digital convert since the original Kindle rolled out. I don’t want physical books piling up. I don’t want to have to store them or deal with finding them a new home. I have a lovely digital bookshelf that I can download from in an instant. And with Calibre and a backup in the cloud, I’m not afraid to lose them to a proprietary format or the whim of a digital retailer.

  16. Heather
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 10:51:38

    I’d be interested in bundling. I’m still primarily a print reader though I’m dipping my toe into the ebook world.

    I think I’d primarily do it for my keeper authors though…there are authors I would love to have digital so I could travel with them for easy re-reads. But I hate to spend just as much on the ebook as I *already* spent on the print version. If I could add a digital copy for a couple bucks more rather than the cost of another book…it’d been a much easier decision.

  17. Erin
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 10:55:08

    I have been reading both a print and digital reader for some time now. There are authors that I still MUST have the physical copy because they are some of my all time favorites. I have been migrating to digital more and more because of some of the lower prices and the ability to take my books anywhere. I have started to buy digital copies of my favorites and this bundling option is something I would JUMP at the chance for.

  18. Karen E.
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 10:55:15

    I was able to buy a book bundle last December from Amazon. I bought a YA book for my nephew for Christmas and it came with a free ebook that I was able to put on my Kindle. I was trying to decide which book to buy, so the free ebook helped me make my decision.

  19. Lynn M
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 11:45:07

    I see this bundling as being a lot like the option of buying a movie when it’s released to home theater in the Blu-Ray/DVD/Download pack, where I basically have the movie in three different formats. I can spend more money to get that pack, or if I’d rather not, I can by the simple DVD version for less. In this case, if I want both versions, I’d be willing to pay a couple of extra dollars to have the e-book version – but ONLY a couple of extra dollars. Anything more than, say, a $2.99 surcharge would cause me to pick one format or the other. And I would most likely only do this for auto-buy authors or those whose backlist I’d like to always keep as part of my library. Like @Christine above, I’m quickly headed to the point that buying hard copies is no longer going to be an option because I’m out of bookshelves and space.

  20. Andrea
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 13:03:57

    I like the idea of the Kindle Match. I actually wish it was reversed: buy an ebook, get a discount on the print version. I typically buy ebooks first, then a print if I love it.

  21. Jane
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 13:06:56

    @Andrea: It would be great if you could apply the ebook price toward the purchase of a print book!

  22. Anne
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 13:54:32

    @Andrea: I’m with you. I like the idea but I and so many of my family and friends read fiction digitally only. It would be nice to pick up the print book at a good price so I could pass it on to the few people I know that still read that way. Even if it did work this way though, I don’t expect that I’d be taking advantage of many bundles just because I know so few people interested in print.

  23. Janine
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 15:32:29

    It just occurred to me that I might use this option for cookbooks as well. I like to own cookbooks in e because then I can search by ingredient, or search my entire cookbook collection for a particular dish, as well as travel with all my cookbooks — since I am vegan, this is handy when staying with omnivore relatives.

    However, hardcover cookbooks are also very nice to own– the color photographs are enticing to look when I need inspiration/motivation to make a recipe, at and I can photocopy a recipe and bring the photocopy into the kitchen so that I don’t get either a hardcover or an e-reader splattered with food. So this type of bundling would be a very nice option for me if it is made available with cookbooks.

  24. Lindsay
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 20:49:59

    Honestly, I would love bundles for the sole purpose of filling up the local high school’s shelves while still getting to read the books myself — nothing like handing over brand new books instead of well-loved-but-obviously-used to kids who are used to only getting what’s left over from the rest of the district. A coworker’s daughter goes there and she told me how bad it was — I donated most of my print books (that were appropriate — most were!) but a few boxes of books do not fill a library, and print books are bananas expensive in Canada.

    We had a really sad selection of donated books when I was in high school, I read The Two Towers half a dozen times because it was the only fantasy book in there that wasn’t Bobbsey Twins or Nancy Drew and definitely more reading-level appropriate. It wasn’t until I was 20 I read the rest of the books, I was actually worried how it would begin and end because I’d invented so many other stories about it.

  25. Kaetrin
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 21:39:53

    @Janine:@Lisa J: Yes I think I would do this for some books. Then again, there are some series/books I have in e, print and audio. I think I’d only do it for favourite authors though – digital only is fine most of the time for me.

    @Jane: @Andrea: The other option of buying the print version at a discount if you already have the e version would be great too – excellent for gifts or if you find out you just love the book so much you want a hard copy too.

  26. CaroleDee
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 01:34:12


    Your comment hits the nail on the head!

  27. Ebook + Print Bundling? Who's In and for what b...
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 03:18:59

    […] Amazon introduced Kindle Match Book, an ebook and print bundling service for authors and publishers. Participating publishers (including self published authors here) can offer a digital version of their book for a greatly reduced price. For self published authors, the prices are $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free. For larger publishers, they may be able to negotiate a higher price for the digital version of the kindle match.Back in 2012 Angry Robot offered digital copies for free with each physical book sale. The result was a tripling of physical book sales.  […]

  28. Ebook + Print Bundling? Who's In and for what b...
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 06:29:31

    […] Amazon introduced Kindle Match Book, an ebook and print bundling service for authors and publishers. Participating publishers (including self published authors here) can offer a digital vers…  […]

  29. helen
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 07:22:47

    I don’t read print anymore so a bundle would not be useful to me (unless I wanted to buy a print book for a friend who does not read digital!)

  30. RowanS
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 10:26:00

    I thought I had read somewhere that Amazon would offer digital versions for any book (assuming the publisher was participating) which one had purchased from Amazon since a certain date (1997? Not sure…). This would totally be worth it to me, as I’m big on rereeading, but many of my books are in storage with limited access. I’d love to have digital versions of some of my old favorites for a discounted price. I suspect that I’d probably spend a ton of money, even at the discount, buying the digital versions of books I alread own physical copies of…
    I love the way you can now get MP3 versions of CDs you’ve purchased through them. Although in that case, the digital versions don’t cost anything.

  31. Amber
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 10:39:44

    I don’t fit in to any of your categories. I have a huge library of books. I am not a dedicated reader of digital (mainly because of the secondary market restrictions) but am enough of a digital reader that I don’t think the last one fits either.

    I am a book lender/giver by nature. I buy books in whatever format appeals, but if it’s a book I’m going to want to share with friends and family, I always buy print. But sometimes I wish I still had a copy for a reread. And contrary to publisher expectations and preferences, I’m not going to re-buy that book in digital. If I could bundle it with an ebook version, I’d probably pay a little bit more for the package, knowing that I could keep the digital version and lend/gift the print.

    I’m also very fond the the BluRay or DVD combo packs with the digital copies. The digital copy on its own is often very overpriced. If I have a digital version, I’m far less stingy about loaning out copies of my movies, too.

  32. Michael J Sullivan
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 11:27:55

    I hear from a lot of my readers that they own multiple formats. They buy ebooks to read or themselves and print books to loan to friends/family. While I’m pleased that they enjoy my books enough to put money in mine (and my publisher’s pockets) twice, I also feel badly. In my eyes they shouldn’t have to. When buying the print book they have already paid me for my intellectual property and I would love for them to have it in whatever format they want. By not buying my books twice, they’ll have money to buy more books and hopefully that will allow other authors to join the ranks of not having to work a day job to do what we love the most, which is write more books.

    For most of my titles, I’ll have no say. The publisher has that prerogative. Luckily, I’m in control of the ebook rights for my most recent title, Hollow World. I sold the print rights to Tachyon Publications, the audio book rights to Recorded Books, butI kept the ebook and subsidiary rights. My plan was, and is, to provide all the popular ebook formats in DRM-free files to anyone who emails me a copy of their receipt. Now, because of Amazon’s MatchBook, I’ll have far fewer requests to process, as I’ve enrolled it and set the price to free. But I’m going beyond MatchBook by making free ebooks available no matter where the print book is purchased. This will give independent bookstores and the remaining chains such as Barnes and Noble or Books-a-Million a fighting chance against Amazon.

    I also see it going “the other way” where people start with an ebook and then want a print edition. As I have also retained the rights to sell print books on my site, I’ll offer a discount for those who started out with an ebook and want to have a print copy on their shelves.

  33. Mike Perry
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 13:31:29

    Quote: “For self published authors, the prices are $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free. For larger publishers, they may be able to negotiate a higher price for the digital version of the kindle match.”

    That sounds terribly unfair and perhaps hints that the larger publishers aren’t coming aboard. Read Amazon FAQ and there’s some ambiguity there. Does the ebook in the bundle have to be discounted by at least 50% or must it be $2.99 and under?

    Different rules like those might also be illegal, although I’d be most surprised if the current and most corrupt DOJ would go after Amazon about anything it does.

    Personally, I’d rather Amazon just set a minimum bundling discount of say 20% and leave us to choose what we’ll offer. I grow tired of Amazon trying to dictate prices, royalties, markets and the like. They’re a mere retailer, but they regard themselves as the World Book Fuhrer. That’s not healthy, particular for a company that seems so clueless about just how complex and varied the book market is.

  34. Lorenda Christensen
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 14:38:09

    I like the digital/audiobook bundles better.

    I don’t read in print anymore at all, so I’m not their target market for this one. I have no idea about how this works with all publishers, but I noticed a lot of Carina books allow you to buy the Audible edition for a couple of bucks more if you purchase the digital version, and I am LOVING this idea. I’m constantly getting within a chapter or two of the end of a novel, only to be forced to go to work before I finish it. So I always download the audible edition with the digital, and then I can listen to the end in my car. Makes me less grouchy and resentful of my day job. :)

    So I’m all for the multiple digital versions, but not so much interested in print.

  35. Evangeline
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 16:27:41

    What’s funny is that I can only see myself hopping on this for non-fiction. I am a complete digital convert for fiction, but I’d like to be able read a history/cookbook/sewing book on the go (e.g. if I’m at the grocery store and forget the ingredients I need to buy), and then flip open the print book at home.

  36. Ebook + Print Bundling? Who's In and for what b...
    Sep 21, 2013 @ 18:35:12

    […] Angry Robot's sales manager Roland Briscoe and Mostly Books's Mark Thornton [wrote] about the lessons of the experiment. Briscoe talked about giving readers what they said they wanted—the permanence of a physical …  […]

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  38. Regan
    Sep 27, 2013 @ 19:44:52

    I love reading in the bath, but all my other reading is digital due to a curious toddler (can’t tear the pages on a kindle). So I buy ebook. If I could get the ebook with the book I would buy the print book. (and back when baen was doing cds of ebooks with its hardcovers for authors I followed I specifically bought those in hardcover to save wear and tear on the paperbacks.)

  39. Laxmi
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 04:40:34

    I am very enjoyed for this side. Its a nice topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy.

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