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

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?


Tuesday news: 1/3 of sales at Hachette are digital; Kindle Fire more popular with kids; 50 Shades leads announced

Tuesday news: 1/3 of sales at Hachette are digital; Kindle Fire...

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