Cross-Media Bundling Example 1: Virtual and Print Books

On January 17, 2007 by Christy

Recently I posted about the concept of ‘cross-media bundling’. Basically, a consumer pays one fee for one story or game in multiple formats. Industry seems to be focused on ‘unbundling’ or disaggregation (being able to buy components), which is important, but there is another emerging trend I believe. The cross-media bundling approach gives consumers their beloved story or game in a variety of formats so they can experience it in a variety of contexts: with friends on TV, by themselves on their computer or iPod. Or, if it is a book: a tangible book they can read in bed and a pdf version they can do automatic searches of. It can also be an important strategic approach for producers if they can bundle items together that encourage cross-use. For instance, selling a cinema ticket and DVD for one price. Sandra Hanchard, of Hitwise Asia Pacific, responded to my last post by offering some stats. To help illuminate the notion, I’ll start offering examples of cross-media bundling. So today is example 1.

Example 1: Virtual and Print Books

Play Money pic from New World NotesAs I’ve mentioned here before, in August last year I purchased a copy Julian Dibbell’s book: Play Money. It is a book about living of money earned from working in virtual worlds. Well, to really spin your head around, the book is for sale at Amazon but also in the online virtual world: Second Life. What you can do in Second Life, however, is purchase a virtual copy of the book (which means you have a virtual book you can actually read inworld) AND a hardcopy (real life) version of the book for one fee. That was fun. Not only did I purchase it inside of a virtual world, with virtual world currency, and receive a virtual book, but I received a hardcopy one too in the mail. A good example of appropriate bundling. Pic from New World Notes.

2 Responses to “Cross-Media Bundling Example 1: Virtual and Print Books”

  • Nice example, Christy.

    A similar example, out of probably countless many, is the viral effect of blogs on book sales – I remember coming across Freakonomics initially through its blog, which is still diligently maintained by its authors, Levitt and Dubner. I’m sure the online publishing format would have helped contribute to offline retail sales of Freakonomics.

    I’m not sure if my example counts as ‘cross-media bundling’, but it shows that different media formats can enhance seemingly competitive forms of distribution.

  • Thanks for dropping by Sandra!

    You’re right, your example isn’t an example of cross-media bundling (the contents of the site are available even if you don’t buy the book). But, it is a good example of how cross-media distribution assists in sales. By providing multiple points of entry (touch points?), consumers can find out about it in the medium or space they reside in most. As you know, one cannot reach everyone in one medium anymore.

    It could be an example of cross-media bundling if they provided a pdf version of their book too. At present, the blog is a great way to draw people into their brand or property and hopefully buy the book (I’ve got it and love it); it also acts as a way for people who don’t have the book to get some of their insights; and for those that do have the book: it continues their investigations beyond the page.

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