StoryBundle is a new e-book self-publishing outfit that’s taking an intriguing approach. Each bundle of five books is pay-what-you-like, from $1 on up. If you pay over a certain amount–either a fixed number or the average of how much people have paid so far–you get two additional books (in the case of the first bundle, they’re sequels to two of the other books). You also get to decide how much of your purchase price goes to the authors and how much to StoryBundle. This is a pretty neat end run around both pricing structures and royalty/markup arrangements. The sliders default to a $10 payment split 70–30 between author and seller, which works out to $1 per book if the boost threshold is $10 or less. You can also choose to donate 10% of your purchase to a charity of their choice.
All the bundled e-books will be DRM-free. After the bundle expires, the books will be available from the individual authors, presumably via the e-book store(s) of their choice and going by those stores’ policies on DRM.
The books are all described as “indie”, which seems to mean “self-published” rather than “published by independent presses”; the first bundle is SF, and the only name I recognized in there was Joseph Nassise. A quick glance at the author bios suggests the rest are debuts. I assume StoryBundle is acting as publisher in some capacity, but it’s hard to tell how far it goes. They select books from a slush pile (their site says they’re open for submissions) but don’t seem to offer editing or cover design–maybe they only want books that have already been self-pubbed elsewhere. Regardless, $1 for five books sounds like a pretty good deal, at least if the excerpts on the site appeal to you.
What do you think of this setup? Will it become the Woot.com of e-books? Or is it asking too much of readers? I’m pretty wired into the industry and I struggled to decide where to put that percentage slider. I don’t think most readers have a sense of what’s a “fair” or “reasonable” split between author and publisher/seller, and I wonder whether people who purchase those bundles will generally leave the slider at 70–30 or adjust it. An interesting experiment, to say the least.