Humble Bundle Launches Its First eBook Bundle; Books From Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi & More

from the keep-it-up dept

The Humble Bundle folks continue to do cool new things based on their basic (awesome) business model of bundling up a bunch of cool indie content in a simple, user-friendly, pay what you want system (with a charitable component). They’ve gone through six video game bundles (it’s hard to keep up!), and over the summer they did their first music package, with a bunch of cool albums from the likes of Jonathan Coulton, OK Go, They Might Be Giants and MC Frontalot. And… today they announced their very first ebook offering. Same basic deal: bundle of books, pay what you want. The basic package includes:

  • Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, an intense story of youthful techno-defiance
  • Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi, a hard-hitting collection of 11 impactful stories
  • Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, an alternate Earth mystical science fiction tale
  • Invasion: The Secret World Chronicle by Mercedes Lackey, Steve Libby, Dennis Lee, and Cody Martin, a modern military superhero saga packed with bonus content
  • Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link, a delightful fantasy collection of 11 stories
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, the cross-genre follow-up to Stranger Things Happen

As always with Humble Bundle, if you pay more than the ongoing average price paid by others, you also get some bonus content. In this case, it’s

  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, a science fiction war epic
  • Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, an ethereal graphic novel of a man’s last days

That’s apparently the first time the Gaiman/McKean book is available in ebook form… There’s also the charitable component. In most bundles, you can designate some of the money to go to EFF or Child’s Play Charity — and that’s still true, but this time they’ve also added the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

It will be interesting to see how this goes. The music bundle did well, by any reasonable standard, but definitely didn’t pop the way the video game ones did. It will be worth watching to see how this one goes as well, and if there are other ways that the Humble Bundle crew will continue to innovate.

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Comments on “Humble Bundle Launches Its First eBook Bundle; Books From Neil Gaiman, Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi & More”

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MrWilson says:

Meh… This business model can only work for the books of authors that people actually want to read and therefore it’s entirely invalid.

I try to let people pay me what they want for my thinly-veiled Star Wars/Twilight crossover fan fiction, but I haven’t sold a single copy.

Clearly we need to go back to the old system where an ill-advised publisher can push my crappy fiction onto people with a clever marketing campaign and take most of the proceeds while I get the joy of paying for my own book tour around the 2 local bookstores that I can convince to carry 2 copies each of my opus.

Where’s my buggy whip?

into_the_red says:

Re: A few obscure bundlers / outlets always exist.

I doubt anyone here is saying any of these cases will build an “industry”.

If anything, in the future everything media-related will probably decentralized as all hell.

Instead of an “industry”, I see media being more spread-out, not always following a set model for financing.

I doubt anyone knows whether that will be the most glorious thing to happen to culture, or if it will just turn out to be a massive clusterfuck.

Either way, you can’t really deny that it will be interesting to watch.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: A few obscure bundlers / outlets always exist.

Name one business model that works unchanged for an entire industry without fail. You can’t, because it doesn’t exist. No business model works for everybody, which is why your argument is ridiculous and a sign that you have no real objection.

The Humble Bundle works – you can’t argue with that. It works, and works every time it’s been tried for software. Now, the same model is being applied to books and it’s already raised over $300,000 in less than 12 hours (at the time of writing). It’s going to be a success.

Will it work for an entire industry? Of course not, but nobody other than trolling morons is even suggesting that particular strawman. There’s a place for every model ranging from overpriced crap to bargain basement classics to physical books to whatever. The problem only comes when somebody dependent on one type of model decides they aren’t making enough money and tries to enshrine their chosen model into law.

“except take away copyright, and they ain’t going for it”

Please point to where – other than your own deranged imagination – anybody is suggesting this here. Copyright has its place, it just needs to be shifted back to the place where it actually works.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not a fan of paying for e-books either, but felt this was worth rewarding the business for the effort to (a) put together a decent collection (b) make it easy to buy and (c) provide DRM free versions that I can load on my device of choice at the time I choose to read them.

While I have no clue if I will like all of the books, I do know that there are at least 4 authors that I have enjoyed in the past. The best part is that you get to see AND decide how your money gets allocated. To be honest, this had the feel of a well run offering and I was happy about my purchase before I’d even received the files.

Tom (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’ve heard of a few of these authors (and read links from this site), so I have good feeling that at least one or two will be worthwhile reading.
But as business model, who can (honestly) criticise this? As the consumer you can decide the value and get what you want at the price you want or you can ignore it; the market will decide if it has a future.

Zos (profile) says:

Good stuff, i saw this when i was hitting craphound to download pirate cinema… i already had most of these, but i went ahead and paid my ten bucks.

Another thing that Doctorow did with the collaboration he put out with Charles Stross a month or so ago- was to set up a section on craphound where you could request a book for a school library, and people can buy and donate copies.
I had to do one of those, i mean, how can you resist that?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sadly, they did not reach out to me for this one. Likely because folks like Neil Gaiman are pure awesome and I’m only in the kinda-cool category. Won’t stop me from picking this up, though!

On the other hand, if anyone feels like barraging these guys to include any of my books in the next bundle, I won’t stop you….

Anonymous Coward says:

“and if there are other ways that the Humble Bundle crew will continue to innovate”

I am not sure that changing from music to books is innovation. Perhaps you need to learn the definition of innovation, because clearly you don’t seem to get it. It’s not innovative when they do the same thing again, is it?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Really? The Humble Bundle includes an option for $0.01. That’s really too much for you, especially seeing as you can donate the whole amount to charity if you wish?

“There’s plenty of good games (and fiction) around that people make because they love making things.”

Yes, among them people who have their work on these bundles. We’re talking indie products here, not corporate tat made by fame-seeking whores. Why not help this project be successful with a 1 cent charity donation?

PaulT (profile) says:

I’ve bought it, as I often do with these bundles. I’ve not found a software bundle yet where there’s not been at least 2 games I’ve enjoyed. I’d have liked it if they could have split the purchasers depending on the eBook reader they were using rather than OS (for interest purposes), but otherwise it’s looking pretty good.

Yet another reason not to buy the $10+ eBooks that mainstream publishers are trying to force on us because they’re scared they can’t fleece people any more…

Anonymous Coward says:

You know, I found out about this on my phone at work. Since I’ve purchased previous game bundles before I get emails for any new bundles. I didn’t even hesitate to buy. Well, it did take some time since I forgot my wallet at home. But I just called my younger brother and told him to buy it with his card and “gift” it to me, then I’d just reimburse him the funds. Spent more than the average amount, which was going up and up and up from the moment the bundle launched.

Gaiman and Doctorow alone were the main reason why I bought this. Both are books I’ve heard about recently and had been wanting to read, as soon as I saw they were included I said heck yeah.

Looking forward to more like this.

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