Vancouver ebook app developer BitLit has appointed Cameron Drew, former Director of Global Content Strategy for Kobo, as Head of Content.
Previous to Kobo’s acquisition by Japan’s Rakuten Inc., Drew spent five years working to expand Kobo’s global footprint.
BitLit was founded in 2013 to solve the problem confronting book owners not being able to “rip” a digital copy of book in their physical library the same way that you can rip a CD to your computer.
The solution presented by BitLit is that a book owner writes their name on the copyright page of a book, as proof of ownership, and then send a picture of the signature page to BitLit, which then allows you to download an ebook version of the paper book, from its library of more than 20,000 books.
The process of sending in the photo until receiving an email link containing a download for the ebook happens more or less immediately.
BitLit has deals with over 120 publishers, including HarperCollins, O’Reilly and Angry Robot.
While 30% of the books in BitLit’s catalogue are free to download, the rest are bundled for a small fee, of which BitLit takes a small commission.
According to BitLit, paper books that come bundled with an e-version sell twice as well in bookstores as standalone volumes, and that 48% of readers are willing to pay slightly more to get both formats. By contrast, less than 1% of readers are willing to pay full price for both print and digital versions of the same book.
“We’ve partnered with several bookstores to run pilot programs around bundling,” said CEO Peter Hudson to the BC Innovation Council blog. “What we’ve found is that when bookstores put stickers on a book to show that by purchasing the print copy the readers get the eBook free, they actually increase print sales and decrease showrooming, which is when customers examine the merchandise in-store then purchase it at a lower price online. This is a huge win-win.”
BitLit completed a seed financing round earlier this year for an undisclosed sum, involving former Kobo CEO Mike Serbinis, now of Three Angels Capital, as well as Jonathan Bixby of GrowLab Ventures (now High Line), and BDC Strategic Investment Initiatives.