As early as 2010, publishers experimented with offering readers an added value for their book buying purchases by bundling the digital edition and the print edition. Booksellers even got in on the offer, with the members of the American Booksellers Association helping with the cost of a title from Algonquin Publishers, Hilary Jordan’s When She Woke.
Interestingly, ebook bundling didn’t take off in the way that bookstores and publishers might have hoped. While the purpose was to entire digital fans not to have to choose one format over another, the concept never grew into the widespread marketing policy that some industry experts might have hoped. In fact, it’s now the self-published authors who are benefiting from Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook feature, which allows rights holders to offer the ebook at a discount of up to 100% for readers who purchase the print edition.
Today, though, Verso Books has reinstated the concept in bookselling by announcing that all of its new titles a great number of its back list titles will be bundled. This is a bold move, considering the most that major publishers were willing to do was “experiment” with select titles for bundling promotions. Readers who purchase a print edition will be able to download their ebook edition from Verso’s online library for use on any device.
More important than the extra value to readers, however, is the method of selling the bundled editions. With so much effort spent and wasted in 2013 on publisher-branded websites in an attempt to get consumers to purchase directly from the publisher instead of Amazon, the end result was that readers had no genuine source for book discovery without checking each publisher’s website. Verso Books will sell the bundled editions through its website and offer free shipping, making it more likely that its customers will come to the site hoping to find that extra value.
The program will go into effect on April 8th.