Bundling ebooks and paper books is not a new idea, but BitLit comes at this established practice from a new direction. Rather than try to convince a reader to buy a bundle instead of the paer copy, BitLit plans to offer publishers and ebookstores the opportunity to sell a discounted ebook to someone who has already bought the paper book.
Their platform is going to go live this summer with an Android app and later an app for iPad and iPhone. Several publishers have already signed up, though of course I don't have any names.
As you can see in the demo photos above, a reader will need to download the app and take a couple photos of the cover and copyright page of a book. The copyright page will need to show the relevant book details as well as a unique mark such as a written name. Once the book has been confirmed as belonging to the reader, the app will give them the chance to buy the related ebook.
BitLit is also giving publishers the option of giving the ebook away for free, though I don't expect to see that happening much. Ebooks do have a distribution cost, and I don't expect that many publishers will want to eat the cost.
Free or not, this is still a good idea. And that could be why it's been done before. I believe Amazon sometimes offers deals like this on certain paper books, and O'Reilly has (on at least one occasion) had a sale based on this same idea. Of course, those examples each have their own ebookstore, while BitLit is set up to offer a similar ability for all publishers.
Right now BitLit is pitching this as a way to add an ebook to the sale of a paper book, but that's not the only way this platform could be used. It should be possible for BitLit to also serve up other digital content that a publisher might want to bundle into a book. Apps, perhaps, or maybe even self-test kit. Right now this content can be bundled by including a CD or an activation code, but with BitLit publishers could save the cost of the CD by instead offering the content via BitLit.