Bundle up! Your ebooks are getting cold

Is ebook bundling a perk, or a necessity? Mary Alice Elcock, VP Marketing & Publisher Communications at BitLit, tells us what we need to know about ebook bundling in 2015.

Time to bundle up

Bundling is not a new idea. In fact, many well-known publishers offer an ebook download to readers owning a print copy. Today, you can email a copy of your receipt to ECW or Coach House Books, and they’ll happily reply with a DRM-free file; University of Kentucky Press asks you to post a picture of yourself with your book to a public tumblr; Angry Robot has partnered with independent bookstores in the UK and US to provide you a bundle at the till. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Amazon’s launch of Matchbook in the US just six months ago.

BitLit offers our own brand of bundling using an app you can download to your Android or iPhone device. The reader takes a photo of the book cover and then a photo of their name written in pen on the copyright page, allowing our algorithms to first match the book cover to a book in our database, and then to match the reader’s name to their account. In this way, we avoid the need for emails, scratch off codes, or QR codes that can be cumbersome to implement. Publishers are able to price their book for free or at a discount, and apply DRM as they see fit. We want all publishers to be able to offer bundled ebooks without a great deal of effort.

It’s been 12 months since we first launched the BitLit app and in that time we’ve learned a lot about bundling:

  1. Readers like the idea of retroactive bundling over point of purchase and are more likely to bundle a backlist book than a frontlist one. 
  2. 1 in 7 people will pay an extra 20% of the digital list price in addition to the print price in order to receive both formats. 
  3. While men and women are equally interested in bundling, men are two times more likely to pay for a bundled ebook, while women prefer to get their content free.

So, what’s next for bundling? I predict in the next year even more publishers will begin to offer bundling to meet the needs of a changing marketplace and their consumers. As Chuck Wendig wrote: “When I buy a physical copy of your book, I always want the digital copy. Just…full stop. No more ninnymandering, no more wafflepantsing, no more flimsyjibbing.”

I’m with Chuck. Here’s to a 2015 free of wafflepantsing. Unless you’re really eating waffles in your pants.

Want to know more about ebook bundling? Find Mary Alice at Tech Forum and ebookcraft in two sessions on the subject this March.