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Larger book retailers such as Barnes & Noble often contain a special table offering “buy 3, get 1 book free” or similar bundle promotions. Book publishers are following their lead in the electronic book market by bundling titles in their own buy one, get one free offers.

Such offers encourage e-book customers to read more titles on their handheld devices, which should help continue the spread of these innovations. Currently sales of digital titles account for approximately 50 percent of the revenue earned by best sellers; book publishers hope to increase these levels for their whole portfolio.

Rosetta Books therefore offers the well-known thriller I Am Legend (which was made into a movie with Will Smith) with another, lesser known title by the same author, Shrinking Man. Individually the books sell for $8.99 each, but together, they are just $9.99. Other publishers group books from the same genre. One publisher explicitly looks for older though still relatively recent releases to bundle; if customers buy a brand new release, they can receive a book, published in 2004, that they probably will like for just a few dollars more.

These incentives to purchase e-books are relatively easy for publishers to offer because it is far less expensive to distribute e-books. However, some publishers continue to resist the idea of discounting e-books, arguing that just as is the case with regular books, discounting fails to encourage people to buy more while also taking away from the integrity of the book.

Discussion Question: Would you be swayed by a bundled e-book offer?

Jeffrey Trachtenberg, “Publishers Bundle E-Books to Boost Sales, Promote Authors,” The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2011.