Just Bundle Already

Book bundling is gaining popularity. According to BookNet Canada’s, “The State of Publishing in Canada 2015”, the amount of publishers who said “No” to the question “Do you bundle digital with print book purchases?” fell from 78% in 2013 to 43% in 2015. That is a huge jump in only 3 years. So why has this been happening?

The simple answer? It drives sales.

Let’s say you go to the grocery store wanting to buy either an apple or a pear. Pears are regular price, but apples are buy 1 get 1 free. Even if you only wanted one piece of fruit, you’re going to buy an apple and take the second for free. The only reason you wouldn’t is if you really wanted the pear to begin with. This is the same train of thought for book bundling. People like a deal. It’s an incentive to buy. If someone goes into a book store unsure of whether or not they were going to buy something, and see they can get the two for one, it’s just another reason to buy it. If they go in trying to decide between two books, the bundling seems like the better deal and therefore would most likely get the sale (again, unless they’re already leaning heavily to one side). This is, of course, just my theory. But why think otherwise? The music industry has been doing this for years now. So has the movie industry. Heck, apparently even the video game industry is starting to do it. The only reason it’s taken the publishing industry so long to catch up is because eBooks are a relatively new concept.

The biggest argument I’ve seen against bundling is the lost sale theory. In short, Person A might buy the book, not want the digital copy, and give it away to Person B, therefore, a sale is lost since Person B did not spend any money. I don’t see it that way. For one, there is no guarantee that Person B was ever going to buy the book anyways, even if they wanted the book, as there are other ways to get a digital book without spending money. Pirating, of course, or libraries. What if Person A finishes the print book and either gives it to Person B to read anyways, like most friends do, or sells it or donates it and Person B buys it at a second hand shop. And that’s saying Person B even wanted the book in the first place. I like to think of this lost sale more as good advertising than a negative thing. If Person B gets to read a book they didn’t even know about, they could end up loving it and buying the authors back catalogue or future books. It could inspire a reading frenzy of similar authors.

Another argument could be that it would hurt the eBook business, as people would opt to purchasing the physical and getting the digital with it. I don’t see this being a problem either. Ebooks are generally cost efficient to produce, at least in comparison to print books. And once made, there are no storage costs or returns, so there is no cost except for the initial creation. Bundling doesn’t always come free anyways, but at a small bump in price, which would go towards the eBook business. Also, eBook readers are mainly eBook readers. They read on their Kindles or Kobos or iPads or what have you for a reason, whether that be for commute reading, weight, font resizing, to be discrete, etc. Some people just don’t want print books cluttering up their house. There could even be a bump in eBook sales because of bundling. What if Person A actually uses both, as intended, even though they’ve never used an eBook before? They could end up falling in love with eReaders and start purchasing more eBooks.

I have yet to hear a solid argument against bundling, at least one strong enough to change my mind on the subject. All I see it being is positive for the industry. Besides, who really cares? As long as people are reading, then everything is fine.

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