I wanted to get my hands on one before I wrote about it because the early reports didn't jive with my estimation of where it would sell and to whom. DBW talks about plans to get these gift boxes into British booksellers where they'll be on the shelf next to real books. I don't see that as being the correct market. As I sit here looking at the box, I think that it would fit better if stocked at stores like Hallmark and other less traditional book sales channels.
This isn't the gift a heavy reader would buy for themselves (other than as an impulse purchase - it looks interesting) nor would you buy it for someone for whom you already know their ebookstore preferences (a gift card would be better). And the ebooks in question are free to download online, so this is more of a gift item and less of an ebook item. As I see it, the most likely case for who would buy this would likely be your Aunt Sally. It would be bought by the relative who knows you're into ebooks but doesn't know much more than that.
I see this more as a gift item than an ebook, and that changes how and where it should be sold. That's why I think this would be a great item to stock at Hallmark. General retailers would also be a good choice, but about the only reason these Boxettes might show up in a bookstore is because many of them have moved beyond selling books to include stocking all sorts of games, gifts, and more.
In fact, I know of a Dutch product that has already found a niche similar to one where this ebook gift box belongs. eBookstick.nl has been bundling ebooks onto flash dries since 2010, and as of June 2011 they'd sold over 25 thousand thumb drives via a wider variety of retailers. Of course, that was more of a traditional publishing distributor who offered a new bundle of currently published titles at regular intervals.
And I think that Dutch distributor has a few ideas worth adapting. This Written Word is likely planning more Boxettes, and if they do release one I think they should switch from author bundles to subject bundles. I think an SF bundle, an action/thriller bundle, or a mystery bundle would likely sell better than bundles focused on specific authors. The SF bundle could focus on the works of Burroughs, Verne, and other late authors, while the mystery bundle could start with Holmes and expand from there.
The reason I like the subject bundles more is that I'm betting it would be easier to match up a gift with its recipient. It might be something of a cliche to say boys like action novels, but a bundle ebooks which include Burroughs and Haggard I would think stands a better chance of being read. Plus the subject bundles would stand a better chance of meeting the other goal of this project, which is to encourage reading. A dozen ebooks from a dozen authors means the recipient might move on and read the rest of one or more author's work.
Still, this is the kind of gift I could see myself giving to one of my younger cousins. There are bunches who I haven't seen or spoken to in years, and I'd like to be able to encourage them to read if I get a chance.