Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Bundling–the act of putting a bunch of related items together in one package–has been around for a few years now for video games and music, but it’s only in 2012 that the concept started being widely adapted for books. StoryBundle launched its first book bundle in mid-2012 and combines the bundling concept with pay-what-you-want, easy digital delivery, charity, lack of DRM (and so on) to make ebook discovery and purchasing extremely easy. Here’s why I think it’s going to be a tremendous boon to readers and indie authors alike. (Disclaimer: I’m the founder of StoryBundle.)
The bundling idea, coupled with pay-what-you-want, inherently takes the risk out of buying just about anything. If you’re a potential buyer and there are seven books/movies/games in a bundle that you can set your own price for, it’s easy to quickly do a mental calculation and decide which ones appeal to you and how much you’d pay for those. You’re paying only for those items. If you end up liking the books you didn’t plan on enjoying, that’s a nice unexpected bonus. So whatever price you pay, it shouldn’t be more than you’re “willing” to, since the buyer is the one that determine the worth to them. It’s unique to every individual. Couple this with curation, to ensure only quality books make it into a bundle, it makes the risk in book discovery extremely low.
But where’s the benefit for the author to be included in a bundle? Why let the user decide what your work is worth instead of taking the power yourself? Three reasons: Discovery, exposure and sales.
Being featured in a bundle is great for discovery, and the authors that have participated in our three previous bundles have all told me that it’s raised their profile, sales and interest in their books. One even told me that he sold more copies of his books in a week-and-a-half of participating in a bundle than he did in the past 18 months going it alone. Being chosen in a bundle is an explicit endorsement of the of a book, and being grouped together with other quality works is an implicit statement that this book is as good as that book. Everything together makes it so that the whole (the bundle) is greater than the sum of its parts (the individual books), especially since they’re offered together as a group.
We mostly focus on fantastic indie authors who have great work but don’t quite have the attention they deserve, but we also like to throw in some established authors as well. This makes for a nice bonus to buyers, but it also helps draw attention to the indie authors to be included amongst their more famous peers. StoryBundle offers good exposure for both types of authors, allowing them to reach an audience outside their normal fanbase. Because our bundles are hand-picked so that the books aren’t just a mishmash of unrelated items, fans who enjoy one book will enjoy the others. Combining fanbases with similar authors is a pretty great way for any author to get more readers.
Finally, there’s sales. The underlying goal of most authors is to make as much money as possible, and to that end, authors need sales and readers. Being a part of the bundle accomplishes both tasks. When someone buys a bundle, that’s obviously one more reader that can become a fan for the future. Whether they buy an author’s followup books at full price, or tell their friends about the great book they read, it’s one more avenue for success an author didn’t have before. But more than that, a person who purchases a bundle, even if it’s for the bare minimum price of $1, that’s money that would have been lost before had the book been sold at normal price. As evidenced in the video game world, pricing products at a lower price than normal doesn’t cannibalize sales, it reaches an audience that wouldn’t have purchased anyway.
All these benefits together point to the fact that bundling is great for readers who are looking for quality works to read, and great for authors who are trying to get their work out there for potential fans.
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