Bundle Up: It’s Cold Outside

Put the pumpkins away. It’s time to bring out snow pants and tinsel. As the weather gets colder, we’re faced with the daunting task of buying presents for the holidays. Not surprisingly many of us will be giving and receiving e-books or gadgets on which to read them.

Now to find the perfect e-books for the readers on your list. There are new book recommendation engines out there now to help. But many still plan on sticking to their tradition of gifting award shortlisted books. So why don’t e-book retailers capitalize on that with, for example, a Giller shortlist bundle of e-books? The answer is they can’t.

When the Giller Prize shortlist was announced a few weeks ago, there were many avid readers saying “Finally! Now I know what I’m getting for Christmas!” This seemed to me like an opportunity for e-book retailers to convert more print readers to the digital page by offering a discounted Giller shortlist bundle. But after a little digging, I’ve found out that it’s basically impossible.

Agency terms prevent retailers from discounting titles so there’s no way to create extra incentive by making the bundle pricing more attractive. And then there’s the feat of trying to put all the e-books from different publishers into one type of e-package. And even if the publishers all agreed and if a new file with a new ISBN was created for each title so that it could priced lower for a bundle sale (which I’m pretty sure is a metadata standards atrocity), you really need to buy these files one at a time and creating the necessary sales restrictions to make the discounted version only available when you buy the others would be incredibly complicated. So that doesn’t really work.

This seems like a missed opportunity for all the e-parties involved. I think more people would be likely to spring for the whole shortlist in e-format, if there was a bundle. I guess there are still some kinks to work out in the system and agreements. If there’s any chance of getting a Giller bundle this season, you’ll have to put on your coat and hat and get it in a physical store. (Hint, hint, bookstores.)

If anyone can think of a solution to this, please post it in a comment below.