Launching open value-added bundles in Italy (pbook+ebook)

Italian RCS Libri publishing group has just launched “110 Libri+” (literally 110 Books+), the first mass-market publishing initiative in Italy to offer value-added p+e bundles in the main online bookstores.

Readers who buy online, in any of the partner bookshops, a pbook edition of any of the 110 bestselling books of the year  (mainly new top releases, not just backlist titles) will have the possibility to purchase the corresponding ebook edition at a discounted price of €1,99 only. The 110 bestellers are the most successful books published by Rizzoli, Bompiani, Fabbri Editori, Adelphi, Marsilio and other RCS Libri’s publishing houses.

110 libri+ offers a new value proposition to the readers when they are to buy a new book: print or digital is not a dilemma anymore. They can have both. This is also the main message of the video campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-FclqmYpcU

Unlike other bundling programs in the world, this is the very first bundling initiative that is driven by a publisher and not by a bookseller. This is why it’s called open: the reader chooses its preferred store to buy from.

As a matter of fact, the ebook shall be bought on the same online bookshop where the pbook has been purchased. Currently three main bookstores are running this experiment: Kindle, LibreriaRizzoli.it and LaFeltrinelli.it. Of course ebook-only retailers are unable to run this innovation trial.

This first experiment is a time-limited one and it runs for three weeks over the Christmas season, from Dec 11th till Jan 2nd . The ebook purchase doesn’t have to be simultaneous with the pbook purchase. How does it work from an operational standpoint?

Very easy, for any pbook purchase the reader will get from her/his bookshop a unique discount code or a promotional credit on her/his personal account and will be able to redeem it for the purchase of the corresponding ebook until end of January 2014.

The value–added bundling - the ebook isn’t just free -  is meant ideally to benefit not only readers but also authors, bookshops and publishers. We have still to see if this innovation trial works effectively, perhaps it might be a bit early given that the local ebook market still is a small one. Of course, this experiment could be replicated in more advanced markets. There aren’t operational excuses for not doing it. RCS Libri has already proven that is technically feasible and on several booksellers at the same time.

The sooner one starts gathering information and experience, the better it is. This is one of the cases where there is little to lose and a lot to gain. As always the future can’t be predicted but it can be invented. One just needs to do it. Happy Holidays!