Get ready to bundle! By whatever strange alchemy, two separate pay-what-you-want DRM-free multi-format e-book bundles have suddenly popped up independently of each other.
The more appealing one is from the past master of bundling, the Humble Bundle. The Humble eBook Bundle II includes Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, and Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. If you beat the average ($9.78 as of this writing) you also get Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton, and The Last Unicorn (Deluxe Edition, includes the sequel novella “Two Hearts” and an interview with the author) by Peter S. Beagle. (I covered Humble’s first e-book bundle back in October.) As Doctorow points out in the accompanying YouTube video, most of these titles are from Tor, the only big-six publisher willing to go DRM-free at this point.
(Update: As Cory Doctorow coyly points out on BoingBoing, the Humble Bundle always keeps a couple of beat-the-average-donation unlock titles in reserve for the second week. If the average at that point is higher than what you already paid, you can add more to come up to the average.)
Of those books, I’ve read Spin, Shards of Honor, Little Brother, and, of course, The Last Unicorn. Didn’t think much of Little Brother, but the others were all pretty good, I like Wil Wheaton’s blogging, and I’ve heard great things about Boneshaker and been wanting to read it for a while. And to have a deluxe edition of The Last Unicorn will be great. For the longest time, that book didn’t even have a legitimate electronic version. This one gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from me!
Your Humble Bundle pay-what-you-want payment can be customized with sliders so you can choose how much goes to the authors, how much to EFF, Child’s Play, and the SFWA, and how much to the site’s administrators; you can even customize on an individual basis, so if you don’t want to pay the author of one of the books or object to one of the charities, you can cut them out of the picture altogether. The Humble Bundle will be available for just over 14 days from the time I post this.
The other bundle is from StoryBundle, who have done a couple of other e-book bundles in the past. This one is called “The Sci-Fi Bundle” and includes a number of titles from some fairly well-known authors as well as a couple of lesser-knowns: Hopscotch by Kevin J. Anderson, In Hero Years…I’m Dead by Michael Stackpole, On My Way to Paradise by David Farland, Santiago by Mike Resnick, Swarm by B.V. Larson, The Disappeared by Krstine Kathryn Rusch, and if you pay $10 or more, High-Opp by Frank Herbert (previously unpublished) and The Stars in Shroud by Gregory Benford.
Of those books, the only one I’ve read is Stackpole’s, and I thought it was pretty good. It’s a postmodern take on superheroes, kind of like Watchmen in its way, with an appealing first-person narrator and a few fun plot twists. (We’ve interviewed and written about Stackpole a few times in the past. And, of course, we’ve covered some of Rusch’s blog posts, too.) I’ve heard of or read a few things by some of the other authors—could be good, could be iffy, especially that unpublished Frank Herbert. (If the author of Dune couldn’t get it published while he was alive, is it going to be any better now?) But again, for ten bucks, how can you go wrong?
Storybundle has a more granular payment slider where you can choose how much to split among the authors (but not how to divide it among individual authors) and how much to pay Storybundle itself, and a radio button to let you donate 10% to either Mighty Writers or Girls Write Now. It will be available for just over 20 more days.
Wil Wheaton !