Vancouver-based BitLit announced today that it has signed a deal to bring Elsevier content to its ebook publishing platform. The agreement adds Elsevier’s health, science, and technology content to BitLit’s catalog of over 40,000 titles.
BitLit’s Shelfie mobile app takes an interesting approach to digital content by letting readers download or purchase a discounted ebook version of their print edition books. Here’s how it works: users snap a photo of their bookshelf (also known as a “shelfie”) and the BitLit app will tell them which books are eligible for download. To claim the eligible book, users must then take a photo of their signed name on the copyright page of the book to verify that they in fact do own it. The ebook downloads are offered for free or at a discounted price depending on title and publisher.
Speaking with BitLit’s CEO, Peter Hudson, he seemed optimistic that the partnership was a sign that publishers are warming to new distribution models for its digital content. “The publishers are starting to move mentally towards the idea of new business models around digital,” he said. “More and more publishers are starting to sign up to an all-you-can-eat subscription model. I think mass market publishers are becoming more comfortable with bundling as a business model.”
Hudson indicated that the reason for that comfort may not be coming from an industry wide change of heart, but ongoing frustration with Amazon’s dominance in the space.
“They’re so frustrated with Amazon, they don’t even say the word Amazon,” Hudson told me. “They say ‘Seattle’, or ‘big book retailer’ – it’s actually a little like Voldemort. It’s actually a running joke at publishing conferences that no one ever says the ‘A word’.”
With Amazon’s recent fight with Hachette sending ripples throughout the industry, publishers are more willing to experiment. Harper Collins, known for its publishing experiments, has already signed on with BitLit as a pilot, and Hudson is confident that relationship will continue. Which is good news for BitLit, because Hudson knows that the company’s user experience dies without content.
“If you take that shelfie, and there’s no books on it that are available, that’s disappointing.”
BitLite Shelfie is available for iOS and Android via the source links below.