I recently fell onto the mailing list of an outfit called StoryBundle, an organization of which I had never heard until then. They’ve been operating at least since 2017, so that’s my bad. And while I’m not one to promote shamelessly (and full disclosure: I have no connection to these folks whatsoever and have not benefitted from their program), their operational model is an interesting one.
StoryBundle groups books by indie authors and sells them for a short time at a low base price (usually $3), inviting purchasers to pay what they will, as long as it’s at least that base amount. In the current bundle, you’d get four books for that $3. If you pay a minimum of $15, you get 11 books—the original four, plus seven more “bonus” books. You choose how much of your payment goes to the author and how much goes to StoryBundle, and a portion of your payment can go to a charity of your choice, as well.
The number of books in a bundle varies, and you can’t choose which books you get. You buy the preselected minimum bundle, or you also buy the bonus books. That’s it.
The bundles are arranged roughly by theme. Past bundles have focused on international crime; superheroes; Pride Month; fantastic beasts; cozy mysteries; African speculative fiction; cats; steampunk; kickass heroines; vampires; thrillers; cooking and crafting; time travel; bad fairies; space opera; black narratives; paranormal romance; plot twists; anarchists; LGBTQ+; Christmas cheer; Dr. Who; and science fiction, fantasy, and “weird” topics of every kind. As you can see, just about every taste can be found here. There have been more than 200 bundles so far, and, alas, their Q&A says that once the offer is gone, it’s gone. They don’t have a way to bring back past bundles yet, although they’re working on it.
The theme for the current month is “Glitter and Hope,” and the 11-book bundle contains novels, connected short stories, sequential novellas, and an anthology of stories connected by theme. One of them is a Nebula winner. Two of the novels are the first in a series.
I noticed that the person who curated the bundle included a story of her own. It’s a 48-page “novelette” selling individually on Amazon for $2.95. The author is the former fiction editor of Fantasy Magazine and a Nebula finalist for another story. This one has a 4.4-star rating on Amazon with 20 reviews. I read the first couple of pages and like it so far, so I’m not bothered by this self-promotion as I might otherwise be. And if you’re an author and you want your book to be included in a bundle, you can write them and ask. They’ll consider it.
A lot of people are reading a lot more these days, and StoryBundle seems like a—ahem—novel way to try out new authors for a very low price. This bundle offer is good for another three weeks or so. I think I’ll give it a shot.
What about you? How are you acquiring reading material these days?