Launched last year, BitTorrent Bundles are a way for creators to offer a sample of a work for free and then ask for some type of payment for the rest. At the time the platform launched, the only payment option was to submit your email (for mailing lists) but the NYTimes reports that BitTorrent will be adding a paywall in September.
In September, BitTorrent will precede Mr. Weber’s foray by inserting a paywall — something it has been avoiding — in one of its so-called bundles. These are downloads that for the last year have been used by musicians, graphic novel publishers and others to offer their work or promotional material in return for nothing more costly than a user’s email address. The new paywall will permit access to a music bundle from what the company says will be a major artist, still to be named.
“We saw the opportunity to build what we think will become the leading place for independent content creation,” Matt Mason, the chief content officer for BitTorrent, said of the new fee-based initiative.
I'm not sure why the NYTimes is saying that BitTorrent was avoiding paywalls; this is a move I was expecting to see ever since BitTorrent Bundles crossed my desk last September.
The paywall will be used first by the creators of a short SF series called Children of the Machine , which according to the BitTorrent blog tells the story of young adulthood on earth after a major tech upheaval. Marco Weber, a seasoned independent film executive, is to produce the new series, based on a pilot written jointly by him and Jeff Stockwell, whose credits include the movie fantasy Bridge to Terabithia.
The series is expected to run 8 episodes, but only the pilot is guaranteed. The rest of the show will only be produced if the funds can be crowd funded via BitTorrent Bundle.
So how is this an ebook story?
The SF series isn't, but the BitTorrent Bundle platform is. I've been keeping an eye on this platform because it could prove useful as a way to sell ebooks. As I pointed out last year, BitTorrent might be synonymous with piracy but as a technical standard it is the best way, hands down, to upload and download files - in particular large files.
If and when a publisher or author gets into selling audiobooks, digital graphic novels, or enhanced apps directly to their readers, this is a platform they should consider. These files can be up to a gigabyte in size (I have several PDFs which are 700MB or larger), and that can take a while to download. I think the best way to guarantee that the content is downloaded without a hitch is to use BitTorrent, and once BitTorrent Bundles have a paywall creators will be able to combine retail and delivery into a single platform.
Just to be clear this isn't the only option, just one which should be considered. And with over 100 million Bundles downloaded, this platform clearly is being accepted in many quarters. I think it could be as easily accepted by ebook buyers as well.
image by eirikso