Tag Archives: digital publishing

The Benefits (and the Beware) of Book Bundling

Earlier this week, Amazon announced Their Kindle Matchbooks program to launch this October: a book bundling system that will allow Amazon customers to order e-book copies of their purchased print books at a discount: some e-book copies will be free with this program, and the highest cost?  $2.99.

The Upsides

The immediate benefits of bundling are obvious for the consumer:  the convenience of an additional reading platform, the added value and the element of social reading, while still retaining the tactile joy of a physical copy.

For authors, bookstores and publishers, the benefits are easy to see as well:  Their customers aren’t forced to choose between digital or print.  Bundling also offers promotional value and increases discoverability.  Going one step further, it goes towards building a relationship with the reader.

Also notable is that most news outlets that announced Amazon’s Matchbook program added the telling descriptive “finally”.  Bundling has of course, been a long standing and promotion for films, music or video games: why not books?  In the past 18 months, several publishers and authors have become the testers and the trailblazers of this idea, with respectable levels of success.  Perhaps Amazon was waiting to observe their competition before developing their own bundling system, a cautious but seemingly cost-effective strategy.  

The Downsides

With all the benefits for both the buyers and sellers of books, what could possibly go wrong with Amazon’s Matchbook?

Firstly, there is intrinsic, monetary value attached to both the print and digital copy of the book.  As TechDirt pointed out last August, some publishers are concerned bundling could “leave money on the table“.  There is additional concern of buyers gifting their purchase, while retaining either the print or digital version for themselves.

Secondly, (and more importantly) the first point bears repeating: there is intrinsic, monetary value attached to both the print and the digital copy of a book.  Amazon’s Bookstore has been known to discount even their best sellers by nearly half their cover price; their prices were even further slashed in a price war with the e-commerce company Overstock.  While celebrated authors tied to one of the big five publishers may have little to worry about, most books on Amazon already sell for less than $4.00.  Amazon’s Matchbook risks further devaluing the work of a lesser known author by enforcing the premise that a digital edition should be cheaper, or free.

Is Amazon intentionally enforcing this idea?  Not likely.  The problem with Amazon is that they’ve built themselves on being able to provide consumers with the product for the least amount of money. They have been rewarded for this, but their focus is on instant gratification of the buyer, not the effect on the author or the publishing community.

As Dustin Kurtz argues, costs of producing a book have very little to do with the paper it’s printed on.  The value of an e-book shouldn’t be diminished simply because its digital.

Book-Bundling is an exciting new stage in in the ever-changing world of publishing, and a great opportunity for authors, publishers and readers alike.  Hopefully what we pursue in our passion for reading, writing or sharing is a healthy appreciation for a great bargain, while remembering how valuable our storytellers are.

What do you think of this issue?  Let us know by leaving a comment, or tweet us @SumbolaCoSI.



Fore-Edge Art Found, Fondly Remembered.

via Martin Frost
via Martin Frost

Yesterday, ThisisColossal.com shared an article called Secret Fore-Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa.  The article became an immediate hit on the popular Internet front page, Reddit.  Fore-edge painting is the practice of painting an image (usually a landscape) on the edges of book pages, where the picture is hidden until the pages become fanned open.

Usually done with water-colours, one picture on the edge of the book is the most common to find, although fore-edge art could be even more intricate. The Two-Way Double refers to two paintings to be found, depending on which way the reader fans the pages.  Done on the top and bottom edges of a book, there could be a possible of six images to be seen!

The popularity of fore-edge paintings peaked around the mid 17th century, however, appreciation for these hidden gems is still very much alive. Collectors can sometimes find book binders today who practice this specialized art, or antiquarian painted books on eBay for anywhere between $100 and $4000. (Prices should be dependant on quality, age and authenticity, so interested buyers would do well to do their research.)

Alas, these hidden paintings cannot be applied to eBooks, but at least we can read all about them on our electronic devices.  The truth is that the ever-changing publishing world still has so much more in store for us.

What treasures do you think will flourish in the age of digital publishing? Leave us a message in the comments or tweet us @SumbolaCoSI.

10 Tips to Save Money on Textbooks

via: Getty Images
via: Getty Images

Textbooks for post-secondary education have risen 812% since 1978, according to the American Enterprise Institute.   Students are spending between $500  to $900 on books per year- a hefty price tag on top of already steep tuition costs. To help students, we’ve put together a list on how to find free textbooks, or save a few dollars at least.


  1. Buy discount.  You are not going to get the best deal by buying new textbooks on campus.  Sometimes you’re required to get a brand new book. If thats  the case, consider where you can purchase the text at a lower cost.  Do you have a rewards card at a local book store?  Can you buy it online cheaper? Do you know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows how to find cheap text books, mysteriously?  Just kidding about that last part, but be aware of all your options.
  2. Buy used. If you absolutely have to shop at your campus bookstore, seek out used copies of the text you need. A few dog-eared pages and highlighted passages are well worth saving an extra $60.
  3. Check local classifieds. Most campuses have a deadline for when they will stop buying back textbooks.  Invariably, students who miss the buy-back date will post their materials in an online marketplace,  in a school paper, or even the bulletin boards of campus hallways or coffeeshops.  Keep your eyes peeled for these postings because most of these students will price their books to sell quickly. Some will even post them for free.
  4. Use Sumbola. Really.  If you’re taking courses with required classic reading, Sumbola is meant for you.  a) You don’t need to carry around extra books. b) Most pieces of classic literature are free on our platform.  c) Sumbola provides comprehension accelerators and allows for collaboration and note sharing with other  readers, better preparing you for your next seminar.
  5. Rent Books. Some campuses provide this service but online platforms such as BigMama, BookMob, and TextbookRental are available as well!  (US Students: check out this handy-dandy webpage of Best Rental Site Reviews.) Students can save up to 90% by renting- investigating this option could be well-worth your time.
  6. Go to the Library.  Yes, that great big building with thousands of books that you can read, for free.  Much like having fun, getting work done isn’t hard…when you’ve got a library card.
  7. Use a Bookswap. Also becoming more popular, are on-campus Book Swaps. If you’re a veteran student, even just of one semester, chances are you’ll be able to offer a book that someone else needs- and you’ll be able to benefit as well.  There’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned trading post to keep money in your wallet.
  8. Sell Your Used Books.  At the end of your semester, make a fraction of your money back by re-selling your books. This means keep them doodle and coffee stain free for the time you have them to get a better price.
  9. File your Taxes.  Depending on where you live, you can recoup some of the costs spent on resources just by filing your taxes, and claiming the text-book credit.
  10. Plan Ahead.  This tip is three-fold:
    • Check your syllabus and make sure you know what is required material, versus recommended.
    • Find out for sure if the most recent edition of the text is required by consulting your professors or seminar instructors. Buying a cheaper but obsolete text could end up costing you more.
    • Shop early, sell early.  Give yourself time to get the best deals on textbooks.


Are you going back to school this year, or a graduate with tips on saving money on textbooks?  Comment below, or tweet them to us @SumbolaCoSI!