Bookbub – the Groupon of the ebook world?

MA Publishing student, Imogen Dickens, explores Bookbub – a ‘Groupon-esque’ scheme for discovering e-books in this week’s newsflash.

In 2010, Groupon took the country by storm by offering cheap deals on anything from spa days to a meal in a restaurant. Like other consumers, I love a bargain. You log on, choose your deal, print a voucher and get a discounted price.

Bookbub offers the e-book equivalent. Publishers can offer a good deal on a book for a limited amount of time. When you sign up to Bookbub, you input your genre preferences, and each day you receive an email with a personalised selection of recommended books.
This American business was launched in the UK only last September and it is growing in popularity. They have sold over 10 million books and have over 4 million members worldwide (The Guardian, January 2015). The company says that the average subscriber downloads about 7 books a month, unless their preferred genre is romance where, on average, users download closer to an average of 11 titles.

So how can a publisher use Bookbub?

Here is an example.

The DaVinci Code, written by best-selling author Dan Brown, was offered on Bookbub for free. It was offered just a few days before his new book, Inferno, was published. The free copy of the book also included a free chapter of his new book in order to whet readers’ appetites and persuade them to buy the new title.

What are the rules?

Bookbub does not sell its own books; it uses platforms such as Amazon to offer the deals. They also promise that every book offered will be heavily discounted.

What are Bookbub’s benefits?

Discovering new books on the internet is harder than in a bricks and mortar shop., so does Bookbub offer an online solution to this problem?

When I first read about Bookbub, the publisher inside me didn’t like the idea of selling books at such low prices. It felt like another way in which the market is squeezing more money from authors and publishers.

However, a year ago, before I started my publishing course, I would have loved this idea to help me discover new authors. Like many readers, if I enjoy a book, I will look for other books written by the same author. Offering a deal on one book could, therefore, eventually lead to more sales for the publisher, which mightn’t be a bad thing.

What do I think?

I signed up to Bookbub, but I have yet to purchase a book. My suggested reads so far do not look tempting enough. However, as this becomes more popular and more books are added, I can see future potential in this model.

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