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Content Bundles are the New Groupon

I’m sure you have heard the news today about Humble Bundle.

This site pioneered a certain model for selling games and apps, and today they launched their first bundle of ebooks. The bundle includes 8 titles from well-known authors like Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, and Mercedes Lackey, and like past bundles you can pay what you want.

I almost didn’t cover this story today because content bundles aren’t that novel anymore, and even ebook bundles aren’t all that new of a idea. Baen Books was selling bundles over a decade ago, and StoryBundle launched a Humble Bundle clone a few months back.

But then I started thinking about what this move means and I realized something. Content bundles, whether apps, ebooks, or even music, are about to become the next great marketing hype. They will be hailed by all and sundry as a brilliant new way to sell stuff. I could describe what is going to be said in detail, but basically content bundles are about to go through the same hype cycle which Groupon and their competition just exited.

That might not seem like a problem, but I have been watching the deals and group buying sites long enough to have gotten burned out on the entire idea – and I would bet I am not alone.

Remember 2 years ago, when group buying sites were still a cool new idea and you signed up for every deal? That’s where the content bundles are right now. For most people the bundles are cool simply because they are new, but after about the 500th bundle not very many people will care anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the current Humble Bundle is a very nice offer. I am planning to go buy it as soon as I finish this post I’m feeling jaded today because I’m looking ahead to when Groupon jumps in. Based on the numerous daily emails I get from them I would bet that their content bundles will prove Ted Sturgeon was an optimist when he invented Sturgeon’s Law.

On the other hand, I might be the only one who feels burned out. For a lot of people (both authors and readers) this could turn out to be a very good thing; it’s an easy way to find your next read and if properly handled authors could come out ahead.

And to be fair, I bet Amazon’s bundles will be quite attractive. While I don’t have any inside info I personally give them 2 months before they start offering several type of bundles. I foresee bundles of titles they publish as well as bundles of ebooks published via KDP. The bundles might even end up being free for Prime members.

But I do think the hype cycle is coming. I, for one, plan to get out of the way before it arrives.

Update: Yet another app bundle site graced my inbox this morning. It’s called Bundle Hunt, and it proves my point.

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Puzzled October 9, 2012 um 7:52 pm

Amazon may put together interesting bundles, in that they have lots and lots of sales data on what sells with other whats, and can build bundles based on what people are already buying together.

Tim Gray October 10, 2012 um 4:01 am

The kind of bundle that as far as I know no mainstream sales site offers yet, and has been proved to work well, is to get the print and ebook together. That’s well established in the roleplaying game industry, where the commonest form is to include the PDF at no extra cost, allowing people to access the content they’ve paid for in the way that suits best.

LCNR October 10, 2012 um 7:35 am

Amen to that.

LCNR October 10, 2012 um 7:39 am

Though to be honest I don’t see it happening any time soon, if ever (and certainly not in countries with fixed-price laws): why make the consumer pay only once if you can make them pay twice?

LCNR October 10, 2012 um 7:40 am

(Sorry, I meant it to be in reply to Tim Gray’s post also.)

taming October 10, 2012 um 10:38 am

I think there are some clever things going on with HumbleBundles. The authors are well known to people who read the genre. The purchaser really confronts the issue of how much money they think authors, a charity, and the "bundler" should receive for their work. My decision was that authors should get $2/book, the bundler should get 20%, and I would continue to donate to the charities of my choice on my own. That translated into paying about $20 for eight books.

I see this as a nice addition to the various ways I acquire books. In my case, it won’t keep me from buying that $16 mainstream publisher’s book, but it makes looking for freebies less important.

Bundle Hunt Launches New App Bundle for OSX – AppNewser October 10, 2012 um 12:01 pm

[…] looks like bundles of discounted apps and ebooks are going to be the hot new sales trick for 2013, and Bundle Hunt is getting in on the act. This site has just announced a new offer for a bundle of […]

kurt October 10, 2012 um 12:06 pm

Hey! DRM free!
Interesting bundle!
I’m in!

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