Bundling the Awesome: Volume Deals from StoryBundle, Humble Bundle, Amazon, and More

The Internet has allowed millions of creative people to offer their works to the world, without the gatekeeper of traditional publishing.

This can be good and bad. There’s good in that there are fewer roadblocks for creative people. The bad in that without that gatekeeper, there’s no “pre-check” of quality. Not to say that everything from a publisher is good, just that the assumption is that somebody looked at the thing before it went out. Without this initial eyeballing, how do you sort through the slag to find the gems?

Enter: Bundles.

The most successful, by far, is Humble Bundle. This service, currently bringing in around $5 million in sales, started by bringing together several indie game titles in one downloadable bundle. The twist: you paid what you wanted. Above a certain price, you got some extras, thrown in to sweeten the pot.

It’s rather brilliant. One of the main hangups people (including myself) have with a lot of independently published content is a concern about wasting money on something crummy. By putting multiple titles together, and charging you only what you want to pay, the consumer only has to assume as much risk as he or she wants. Chances are at least one of the games will be good. If two of the games are good, bonus! If more than two. . . well, you get the idea.

Humble Bundle was successful right from the start, getting tons of coverage from gaming sites all around the web. For the game developers themselves, it’s a huge win. They get tons of exposure and a sizeable amount of creditability (Humble Bundle being the vetting gatekeeper). While the developers don’t make as much on each game sold, they may sell many, many more copies than they would have without the bundle. So their total income, in theory, is higher. There’s even a portion that goes to charity, which is a nice touch.

Humble’s most recent bundle (as of this writing, anyway) was the Humble Music Bundle, featuring albums by OK Go, They Might Be Giants, and Jonathan Coulton, plus two artists you might not have heard of, Hitoshi Sakimoto and Christopher Tin. Humble worked their magic on me, getting my $15 (twice the average, thank you). I hadn’t heard of Tin, and just finding out about him was easily worth the purchase. For paying above the minimum, the bonus content I received was several extra tracks from OK Go, Coulton, and Tin.

If Humble Bundle doesn’t have what you’re looking for (right now, each bundle is offered for a limited time only), also check out indiegamebundles.com.

Volume, Volume, VOLUME

Not surprisingly, this sort of volume-based sale tactic has spread to other content as well. Humble Bundle’s most recent bundle being music is a sign of this. Gamemusicbundle.com offers bundles of video game music.

One of the best charge-less-get-more-sales sources I’ve found actually comes from Amazon, or specifically, from Amazon’s MP3 twitter feed, @amazonmp3. Most tweets are about albums going on sale (good deals themselves), but they’ll regularly offer or find some amazing discount on a group of songs. I picked up a handful of “summer”-themed songs for $0.25 each a few weeks ago. A few months ago they offered one of the most amazing deals I’ve ever seen. I bought “The Big Bach Set” a collection of 120 Bach recordings by different artists... for $0.99! What blew my mind was this wasn’t the Tucumcari Trio singing Bach’s Greatest Hits. This was the English Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and others playing a huge selection of well known and lesser known Bach compositions. If you want some great music deals, it’s worth signing up to Twitter just to follow @amazonmp3 (and @soundnvision, @MikeBerk, @MikeMettler and @TechWriterGeoff, too of course).

Pages and Pages of Worlds

The latest related concept is StoryBundle, a bundle of eBooks. There are few areas in more desperate need for pre-selected bundles than eBooks. Launched just this week, the first bundle includes novels by Lou Hood, Joseph Nassise, Michael Kayatta, Joseph Lallo, and Undersea by Geoffrey Morrison. Wait a second, that’s my book. What the what? I don’t even. . .

With literally millions of ebooks available, a bundle service like this is a fantastic way to sort through it all. I’m able to say from the author side, it’s an incredible way to get exposure. From the reader side, I love the idea of getting seven books together in a way that says “hey, these are good, check these out.” That’s what I’ve found most lacking since I got my Kindle. There are so many titles to choose from, and I only have so much time to read.

Speaking of reading, I’ve got six books to get through, while listening to a whole lotta Bach.