Mar 11, 2012

Bundle Those Books

I have recently seen threads within the Amazon discussion forums as well as some insightful pieces online on the concept of book bundling. This takes from a current practice within the movie industry in which a DVD or digital copy of a film is bundled along with a Blu-Ray disc. Heck, I’m a big fan of it. I can buy a copy of Cars for my kids to watch on the main TV, but there’s also a DVD I can toss into the computer to get them out of the living room (at least until they scratch the hell out of it...but we’ll save that rant for another day). The idea of book bundling is similar, except in this case you’d get an eBook copy along with the print version.

A lot of this discussion seems to revolve around the big six publishers using this as a strategy to help fend off the many-tentacled Kraken of their nightmares, However, what they don’t seem to realize is that Amazon has a not-so-secret weapon at their disposal...all of the self-publishers currently available for the Kindle and/or their KDP Select program. A lot of self-publishers, like myself, offer print versions of their books. Often this is through a print-on-demand service. One such popular service is Createspace. Guess who owns Createspace (I’ll give you a starts with Amazon and ends with dotcom).

Should Amazon ever key up their systems to allow for bundling between their print and eBooks, I know I’d be one of the first to sign up for it. I see only upsides to doing so. Allow me to point out a few:
  • Quality: I’ve been very happy with Createspace’s work. Heck, I’ve been accused of showing off the paperback version of my latest book as if I were a two-year old proudly showing off the poopy I just made in the potty. I love how it and my other books have turned out. Why wouldn’t I want more of them dotting the bookshelves and coffee tables of America? Even better, Createspace is continually improving. Is this a side effect of having parents with deep pockets? I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt it.
  • Profit: Here’s where the big publishers will fall on their ass. Why? Well I’m not a betting man, but if I were I’d put my money on them trying to add in a cost increase to their books. This is bullshit, of course, as the digital version would cost them next to nothing to bundle. But I have little doubt they'd make a go of it. However, this could play out differently with self-pubbers. I for one am very happy with the profit I make off a singular sale. I don’t need to double-dip. I’d see no reason to raise prices. If it didn’t cost me anything to offer the bundle (and I have no reason to believe it would), then it shouldn’t cost my readers anything. I don’t want to speak for my fellow self-pubbed authors, but I’d be willing to make a wager that many of them would do likewise.
  • More Readers: Here’s the part that makes me drool and is probably making the big publishers quake. When I buy a Blu-Ray/DVD combo, let’s face facts, I’m not letting it leave the house. However, when I buy a paperback and am finished with it, I’m more than happy to loan it out. I’d be even more likely to do so if I had an eBook backup. Heck, I’d probably buy paperbacks for presents and then keep the eBook for myself. I’m sure this would make me some filthy combination of thief and pirate to a publisher. You might think the writer in me would be freaked out by this prospect. I’m not. Far from it actually. Say I sell a thousand bundles that wind up in this scenario (wishful thinking perhaps, but let's go with that for now). I’ve made the profit from 1000 sales, but now 2000 people have copies of my book. In the short term I just took a bath. However, I now have double the amount of people aware of who I am, this is key for a writer such as myself. Exposure is worth it's weight in gold. I have multiple books available. All I need is for a few of those extra thousand readers (who would probably never have heard of me otherwise, and thus I would have never made a dime off of them to begin with) to enjoy my book and decide to look into my others. In short, the original buyer just did my marketing for me. I’d say that’s worth the price of a book.

This is proposed as a tool for publishers to fight back against Amazon, but Amazon could pick up these bullets and fire it right back...with potentially greater effect. I for one eagerly await to see whether or not they do so.

Your thoughts?


Greta said...

I'm with you. A digital copy costs nothing to add to a print sale. I reckon it's a great idea.

Wodke Hawkinson said...

Agreed. We'd love to bundle our volumes of short fiction, but can't do so. Hope Amazon soon has a change of heart about bundling.

Crazy Life of a Writing Mom said...

Such great ideas! I LOVE createspace. They are awesome :0)

Janie Junebug said...

Kraken! You wrote Kraken! HA! I won't express an opinion about bundling because I'm still learning about self-publishing, but it seems a good idea -- for people who actually finish the books they start, unlike me.

Janie Junebug, nodding from her corner at Elisa's party

Rick G said...

As with lots of things, the first one is the hardest. Once you write "The End" (and mean it) the first time, it gets easier...although no less fun fortunately. :)