Is Bundling the Future of e-Book Purchasing?

In ‘The Bookseller’ on 7th March 2014, I read an article entitled HarperCollins to refine its ‘e’ bundling offer which I found quite intriguing, especially as a non-fiction e-book—The Railway Man by Eric Lomas—had topped the bestseller list that week.

The article explains that Foyles teamed up with HarperCollins to trial an offer of bundling e-books and print titles, believing that bundling e-books with a print book could have a broad appeal to readers.

Selected e-Book Bundles

The companies offered a selection of eight hardback and e-versions in an ‘e-book bundle’ and ran the offer from 31st October 2013 until January 2014. Once a customer had bought one of the hardback books, they could register on Foyles’ website and download an app. This would then allow the customer to access either an e-book voucher code or to download an e-book directly.

The types of books which were available were in specific genres such as Sci-Fi and Children’s, and included titles like ‘Catastrophe’ by Max Hastings, ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and ‘The Demon Dentist’ by David Walliams. It was important that the books that were chosen had an audience that would be able to see the value of an ‘enhanced’ product.

They found that the bundles were attractive as gifts, evidenced by an uplift in sales over the Christmas period.

Teething Problems with Bundling

There have been some issues with the mechanics of offering bundles and HarperCollins decided that the process could be made easier.

Wendy Neale—Digital Sales Director at HarperCollins believes that there is a demand for these products and Jasper Sutcliffe – Head of Buying at Foyles said: “the price of the bundle should not be higher than that of the physical book”. The bundles were originally marketed at £5 more than that of buying the book on its own, and sales increased when the price was lowered in line with the standard price for the book.

What This Means

It appears that by bundling books, HarperCollins and Foyles are aiming to encourage readers to buy e-books over print books, so that readers can be introduced to the benefit of reading books in this way.

Having looked on Foyle’s website, I have seen that they sell e-books using either ADE (Adobe Digital Editions) or their own app. Foyles has over 100,000 e-book titles available, that’s many times the number of print versions which would be available in their bookshops. This really is saying something given that Foyles has been known traditionally as having the largest range of books available in the UK.

This all leads me to conclude that the reason behind this promotion is not only to introduce the reader to the benefits of buying e-books, but also to advertise the fact that Foyles sells e-books as well as the print titles with which they are more commonly associated.

With the availability of ‘The Cloud’ for storing books, Foyles is allowing the reader to be more flexible in the devices they use and giving them a choice to decide when they want to read the book they have purchased.

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Kerrie is currently studying for an MA in Publishing at Anglia Ruskin University. She previously worked as a Careers Adviser with both young people and adults in school, college and university settings. Kerrie already studied for an English degree and decided that she would like a change in career direction to follow her passion for books.