Humble Bundle, the online venture that distributes bundles of digital content for a price decided by the consumer, is releasing its third bundle of e-books, with titles from such authors as Scott Westerfield, Steven Gould and Yahtzee Croshaw. In addition, novelist Cory Doctorow has personally financed a DRM-free audiobook of his novel Homeland—read by actor Wil Wheaton—that will be included in the bundle.
Humble e-book Bundle 3 will include Homeland, an exclusive self-published audiobook by Cory Doctorow (and narrated by Wil Wheaton); Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (S&S); Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black (S&S), Jumper by Steven Gould (digitalNoir); The Happiest Days of our Lives by Wil Wheaton (Monolith Press); Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw (Dark Horse); and Zombies Versus Unicorns: An Anthology, edited By Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (S&S). The bundle will be released to the public today at the Humble Bundle website.
Humble Bundle organizes and distributes content (all without DRM software, a key feature) through its website, offering its bundles to consumers for whatever price they wish to pay, and the revenue is then divided between author, Humble Bundle, and a charity of the consumer’s choice. Launched by game developers to attract attention to their games, Humble Bundle generates significant traffic—the site attracts millions each week, and its bi-weekly newsletter is distributed to over four million subscribers. Since its launch, HB has has sold more than 15 million bundles, generating over $80 million in revenue and raising more than $35 million for charities in the process.
This is HB’s third e-book bundle, said Kelley Allen, HB director of e-books, "all with the titles that focus on science fiction and fantasy." The first two e-book bundles were downloaded more than 200,000 times and generated more than $2 million in revenue. Allen said the new bundle and will add several new charities to its list: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Emergency Medical Fund and Worldreader. (HB offers a suggested list of charities for users to choose from.).
The new bundle also features a self-published audiobook version of Cory Doctorow’s bestselling cyber-thriller Homeland, which he produced himself after Random Audio and Audible.com declined to produce an audiobook version of the book without DRM, digital rights management software intended to prevent digital piracy. Doctorow, a longtime critic of using DRM—he calls the continued use of DRM by publishers and retailers “a superstition”—used his own money to produce the audiobook, which is read by actor Wil Wheaton, directed by Gabrielle de Cuir and mastered by Johh Taylor Williams. The audiobook will include an afterword by Wikileaks’ Jake Appelbaum (from exile in Berlin) and read by Noah Swatz, the brother of the late programmer and digital activist Aaron Swartz.
Doctorow, who organized the first two e-book bundles for Humble Bundle, said RH Audio declined to produce an audiobook for the Humble Bundle on the grounds that Audible, “which controls 90% of the market, won’t allow books to be sold without DRM.” Doctorow said, “It was only through Humble that I could justify the expense—about $30,000—to produce this title independently and make it available."
Allen said that while Doctorow didn’t completely organize HeBB3, “he was very helpful and offered introductions to the publishers.” Allen also noted that Yahtzee Croshaw, well known for his reviews of videogames, has included a short and humorous video review of his own novel, Mogworld, in this bundle. Humble Bundle is looking to release e-book bundles on a regular basis and Allen was hired to get more book publishers involved in Humble Bundle. "This is Simon & Schuster's first time working with Humble Bundle and we are absolutely delighted to be working with them," Allen said.