War and Peace…with bonus material!

War and Peace…with bonus material!

Since, you know, it just isn’t long enough already.  ;)

Well, that one may sound like a joke, but you can actually get it in the Kindle store:

War and Peace with Bonus Material

What’s the bonus material?  It’s another whole Tolstoy novel (well, novella), The Death of Ivan Ilych

That’s not the only book in the Kindle store with bonus material, and in fact, this may turn out to be a trend…kind of like DVD extras (except hopefully, a little more interesting than “dental fillings of the grips”) ;) .

Why would companies do this?  Well, first off, why not?  It’s not expensive, assuming you have paid for the rights for the bonus material already.  It just isn’t that much more expensive to add on a couple of hundred kilobytes to a file.  It’s not like you have to pay by the pound.  You know, “If it has bits, it ships”.  ;)

So, why not make the e-book versions worth more to people?  This might even justify (in some people’s minds) paying higher prices for the book.

Besides, it sounds cool.  :)  Instead of saying it’s a bundle of the Wizard of Oz books, you can say, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz…with 13 bonus books!”  That makes it sound better somehow, except to those triskaidekaphobics out there.  ;)

They’ve done this in paperbooks before.  I’ve got paperbacks in my collection with a chapter of an upcoming novel at the end.  It’s a good more…you can certainly get hooked and anxiously want to finish the story.

In fact it’s much better in e-books than in p-books, because they can actually put a link in there where you can pre-order the not-yet-released title, or just go ahead and order it if it was released.  You could be reading The Marvelous Land of Oz right after finishing Wonderful Wizard.

Interestingly, I’ve seen this recently on some free books.  Get the first book in the series free, and get a bonus chapter (or other bonus material) that entices you to read further.  For example, there is this one:

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

That’s the first book in a series (The Hollows), so you can see why HarperCollins (the publisher) might want to give you that one.  You get it, you might go on to buy other books in the series.

However, they also give you a chapter of

Black Magic Sanction, by Kim Harrison

I believe that’s the eighth book in this popular series, and is due on the Kindle on April 6, 2010.

That date is very interesting, in this case.   Although it is the 28th anniversary of the Estonian Communist Party’s fight against bourgeois Finnish TV, that’s not the reason.  :)

It’s because the hardback was released on February 23, 2010.

Yep, the hardback is out now. 

I kind of wonder about that.  Sure, it’s great that they are giving you a free chapter…but you can pretty much always get a free sample from the Kindle store and it often runs a chapter or more.   It’s actually a percentage of the book (usually 5 or 10%, I think).  That’s why not all books have a free sample…sometiimes, the whole book is free and you don’t really need one.

If they don’t need to give you a free sample to get you to buy the e-book, is it possible they are hoping to get you to buy the hardback before the e-book is released?  I really don’t know, I’m just speculating.  I suspect that might work on some people, though.  You might read the first chapter, and just not be able to wait more than a month to finish it.

It doesn’t seem to make sense for me as far as Amazon is concerned.  Let’s say you get the free Dead Witch Walking book.  You like it, and pre-order the Kindle edition of Black Magic Sanction.  That book is currently $8.65, but has a Digital List Price (set by the publisher) of $25.99.  If that price is what counts, and they haven’t worked out some agency agreement by the time it comes out Amazon would presumably pay Harper about $13 for it.  Hmmm…I wonder if they don’t have to pay Harper until you pay for it (when it is released)?  If that’s the case, and Harper lowers the DLP in time, that could work out for Amazon.

Anyway, I think we’ll see more of this.  I can see some fun combinations, especially with public domain (books that are no longer under copyright) books being attached to modern books.

How about…

You buy Nightfall in the Vampire Diaries series , and they throw in the original Dracula by Bram Stoker?

You buy Game Change, and they include The Art of War, by Sun Tzu?

You buy Amberville and they give you The Velveteen Rabbit, just so you’ll keep expecting that stuffed bunny to pull out a gat and put that dirty stool pigeon on ice?  ;)

Nah, that last one is way too creepy.  :)

In the highly competitive e-book world that’s coming, though, it’s going to be a way to differeniate your product…at first.  Throw in a extra book or other bonus material…cool!  You can have exclusives, and a link to a website!  It just doesn’t cost that much more to do.

Pretty soon, though, everybody will be doing it.  I think it may lead to content expectation expansion.  People may think you are ripping them off if “all” they get is the book.

You might think there would be concern that giving people books will slow down their book buying.   E-book readers, from what I’ve heard, buy many more books than paperbook readers.  Here’s the little secret…they buy more than they’ll ever read.  :)  Many people who buy a paperbook just carry that one around until they finish it, then get another one…they might have one on deck, certainly.

E-book readers may have hundreds of TBR (To Be Read) books on their devices and in their archives…but that doesn’t mean they won’t buy more.  I think that TBR thing is much more likely to never get finished in e-books.  Giving people an extra book for free doesn’t mean that they’ll after actually read it.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.  If you are reading this blog for free and would like to support it, just click here and then shop at Amazon.

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