From Pete’s Desk is a blog series by Peter Hudson, co-founder and CEO at BitLit.
The idea of bundling an eBook with a print book (pBook) isn’t a very new one. Yet, efforts thus far at bundling a print book with a companion eBook have been almost exclusively at the point of purchase. Surprisingly the leaders in point of purchase book + eBook bundling have been publishers selling directly to consumers from their websites. At first it seems odd that bundling hasn’t been more widely adopted by other vendors.
However, when you consider that traditionally, with the exception of Amazon, eBook and print book vendors are seldom the same entities. As such, for bundling to work for traditional brick and mortar print book vendors, they would have to either develop their own eBook eco-system (Barnes & Noble Nook) or sell bundled eBooks without DRM to ensure compatibility across the walled garden of eBook ecosystems. This later option has become increasingly possible as the eBook market matures and the ePUB standard (at least without DRM) becomes widely supported.
An interesting blog post by Nick Harkaway on futurebook.com pointed out some of the benefits to publishers to selling eBooks bundled with print books directly rather than through a traditional vendor. Many of his comments about publishing establishing a closer relationship with their consumers echoes the moves that have been made by agile small indie music labels.
An interesting secondary discussion on eBook bundling is the price for the companion eBook. BitLit commissioned a market research study to look at the interest and willingness to pay for a bundled eBook. However, our study looked exclusively at the idea of bundling after the point of purchase. That is, we asked questions about what people would be willing to pay for an eBook copy of a book they already owned. A study of 4000 consumers in the UK on The Bookseller (subscription only) found similar interest levels in bundled eBooks that we found in our study. Something that The Bookseller study looked at that we didn’t is how the availability of a free companion eBook influences interest purchasing the real book.