Making a Bundle

When publishers talk about bundles, they’re usually referring to multiple formats of the same work sold as a package—usually a print version together with a digital version for download. The success of DVDs with digital download means this is definitely a worthwhile conversation to be having, but remember that bundling can also refer to bundles of different titles—and this model is looking more and more promising. Just recently, we’ve noticed a new bundle (or two) in town, and they’re playing a whole new ball game.

The Players: Two major players are already on the field.

  1. StoryBundle was first out of the gate in August of this year with their first bundle of seven books.
  2. The Humble eBook Bundle launched from the Humble Bundle platform which already produced bundles for other media such as video games, music and movies.

Objective: Package together a group of e-book files, put it up for sale and let people buy the heck out of it.

The Rules: Perhaps, like the Pirate’s Code, these are more like guidelines, but they are common to both of the existing programs. It’s all relatively new, though, so there’s lots of opportunity for experimentation!

  1. Compose your bundle thematically, by genre or season. Let people know who is curating the list of selections and make that a selling point. Books can be frontlist or backlist, previously unpublished stories, short stories—just make it relevant and interesting.

  2. PWYC format. People can choose how much to pay for the bundle, but you can set a minimum. StoryBundle’s minimum is only $1, so keep in mind what buyers are expecting in terms of minimums if you are going to set one. 

  3. Encourage people to pay more in order to get bonus material. Logically, make your bonus material something that people will be willing to pay for. 

  4. Allow buyers to set the payment breakdown. Breakdowns on current bundles include portions for authors, the sales platform or bundle producer, and charity donation. You can suggest a breakdown to buyers.

  5. No DRM. Reward your customer for voluntarily paying for your books by giving them DRM-free EPUB downloads.

The Challenge: There are undoubtedly barriers to publishers getting in on this game, particularly in the area of sales rights, pricing and other contractual obligations. But if these issues can be resolved, this type of bundle would offer publishers a great way to introduce new authors, encourage readers to pick up the first book in a series or simply begin to trust your editorial brand.

The Win: StoryBundle reported 3,600 sales of their first bundle offering. Humble Bundle shows real-time reporting of purchase metrics for their bundles—in the case of their first e-book bundle they racked up sales of over 84,000 bundles at an average selling price of just over $14. In other words, buyers voluntarily paid $1.2 million for this set of e-books during the two-week on-sale period. 

Game on!