The Clonefiles initiative was a small experiment, involving a single imprint of Osprey Group, Angry Robot, and one indie bookstore, Mostly Books in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England. The store tested bundling by offering a free electronic edition of every one of Angry Robot's print novels it sold and promoted the venture with a window display. But the initiative could have big implications. According to reports in the Futurebook blog of The Bookseller, Clonefiles has already been so successful since it began on July 4, tripling sales of those titles, that Angry Robot is planning to roll it out to more stores.
Mostly Books owner Mark Thornton told Futurebook that the initiative has been a game-changer. “It has allowed us to engage with customers and break the ‘ereader taboo’ with people coming into the shop,” he said. “At Mostly Books, we assume that everyone coming into our shop has an ereader. Clonefiles allows us to start a conversation with them, and it is amazing how customers have responded. From a slightly-embarrassed ‘let’s all pretend eReaders don’t exist’ awkwardness, customers have opened up to us about their eReading experience—and in the process are actually telling us what we need to offer to stay relevant—and survive.”
Given the number of independent booksellers in the U.S., who have advocated bundling print books with e-books for several years now, Clonefiles could have an immediate impact on this side of the Pond as well. In the UK experiment, purchasers simply gave the bookstore their e-mail address and were then sent a DRM-free electronic edition. No heavy tech knowledge required.