One of the blessings and the curses of the Internet for folks creating original content is that it’s a lot easier to reach and interact with fans and potential fans, but it’s sometimes a lot harder to get paid than it was in the days when your creation came out exclusively from a publisher, then the fans had to buy a copy if they wanted to read it. These days it’s all too easy to find loads of interesting content online for free, which is great for the reader but not so great for the writers who won’t be able to keep creating content if they’re not getting paid and can’t afford to keep their electricity on. One of the surprisingly successful tactics that has emerged in the digital world is a time-old approach the cynics of the world would never expect to work: the honor system. Put your work up online for free and ask fans to pay whatever they think is fair. Sure, lots of folks will take advantage of the offer just to vacuum up free content, but a good portion of people realize that supporting their favorite artists means more awesome stuff from them. Hopefully GFR’s readers trends towards the decent rather than the moocher-ly, but either way, two new pay-what-you-want sci-fi book bundles are offering up some great summer reading, and one of them even benefits charity.
First up, there’s the Humble eBook Bundle II. The Humble Bundles usually let you pick out an assortment of video games and pay whatever you like, and you can also choose how to split your payment, with it going to the authors, to charity, or even to tip site itself. They’ve done the ebook thing once before, and now the second bundle is available. It’s got four sci-fi novels up for grabs: Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honor. If you pay more than the current average — $9.54, although I can’t tell if that’s the average people are paying for the whole bundle or for each book — then you’ll get two bonus books, Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn and Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek.
The charities you can choose from include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Child’s Play Charity, or the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. The collection of books would normally cost you around $70, so take that into account as you’re deciding how much to pay. The books are available in multiple formats, including PDF, Mobi, and ePub. The Bundle will be available for nine more days.
Next up, there’s the StoryBundle, which is a different site but the same concept. Their basic bundle has six different DRM-free ebooks included: Hopscotch by Kevin J. Anderson, In Hero’s Years…I’m Dead by Michael A. Stackpole, On My Way to Paradise by David Farland, Santiago by Mike Resnick, Swarm by B.V. Larson, and The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Pay 10 bucks or more and you’ll get two bonus books: Frank Herbert’s High-Opp and Gregory Benford’s The Stars in Shroud.
The default split for the StoryBundle is 70% for the writers and 30% to StoryBundle, with the option of switching that up and instead donating 10% to charity. If you do decide to go the charity route, you can pick from Girls Write Now or MightyWriters. You’ll be able to get your hands on this science fiction StoryBundle for the next two weeks.