Humble Bundle, the web-based platform that pioneered a pay-what-you-want business model for video games, is stepping away from its roots among independent game developers and moving into the tenuous filed of book publishing. The organization announced today on its blog a set of science fiction and fantasy books, known as the Humble eBook Bundle, that are now available to purchase the next two weeks from the Humble Indie Bundle website.
The titles offered (full list below) include work by popular writers such as Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, and Cory Doctorow. As with the game-centric bundles of the past, the Humble eBook Bundle works by offering a list of products available for digital download. Customers can pay whatever they want above a minimum price of one cent, but paying above the average customer price gives additional material—in this case, the books “Signal to Noise” and “Old Man’s War.” The chosen price is then divided by the customers themselves into three categories: authors, charity, and a “humble tip” to support the distributors themselves.
Just a few hours into current sale, sales have already gone over 7,000, with total payments nearing $80,000. The average price is $10.98, a point higher than many of the humble indie bundles reach today when selling videogames alone.
Author Cory Doctorow, who is also curating the Humble eBook Bundle, was excited to note in a Boing Boing post on Tuesday announcing the set that “there is no DRM!”
Digital rights management has been a long-standing conflict in the videogame industry that pits critics and often developers themselves against publishers. Companies like Electronic Arts Inc. (Nasdaq: EA), Ubisoft Entertainment (EPA: UBI), and Activision Blizzard Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) all reason, much like important music or media companies like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), say that stringent measures such as always-online requirements and product-activation codes are the only effective way to prevent piracy and guarantee that creators are fairly compensated for their work. Many critics and general consumers alike bristle at this logic, however, arguing that features like always-online requirements only compromise how they are allowed to use a product they paid for.
The Humble Indie Bundle, which has always boasted “DRM-free” as one of its core attributes, has thus proven incredibly disruptive for the mainstream game industry. As an ever-increasing section of the book publishing industry steps into digital media as well, a similar conflict is beginning to repeat itself. Major tech companies like Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) are expanding their publishing partnerships to compete with Amazon Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) in the growing e-reader and tablet market. And assuming that Google Inc.’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) seven-year legal battle with publishers will have some precedent, more litigation can only be expected to be hashed out between these industry pillars for years to come.
But with the Humble eBook Bundle, the service is now poised to disrupt this emerging marketplace as well by offering a substantial counterpoint to the traditional publisher’s perspective.
“The previous Bundles have raised over $7,250,000 for charity, and also demonstrated that creators and their audiences can cooperate with one another, eschewing digital rights management and trusting one another to do the right thing,” Doctorow added in his post.
See the full list of titles, and a countdown for the Humble eBook Bundle, below.
· Signal to Noise - Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
· Old Man's War - John Scalzi
· Pirate Cinema - Cory Doctorow
· Pump Six - Paolo Bacigalupi
· Zoo City - Lauren Beukes
· Invasion - Mercedes Lackey
· Stranger Things Happen - Kelly Link
· Magic for Beginners - Kelly Link