Should I buy the physical book, or should I buy the e-book? This is a question I am sure many of us ask ourselves when we encounter a new book that we would like to read. It would be great to have the hardcover edition of the 500 page epic fantasy with the full color pullout maps included. However, the idea of bringing that treasure of a book onto a crowded subway would be absolutely horrifying; not to mention how heavy it would be. If only you could have the e-book, too, so that you could read it conveniently anywhere on your smartphone or e-reader. Although I imagine that many of us don’t want to buy both because of the added price, even if it might be only a few more dollars.
Introducing BitLit, an app that gives consumers an easy way to claim free or discounted e-book editions of the physical books that they already own. According to Publishers Weekly, “Once a consumer has downloaded the BitLit app, they can use it to take a photo/scan of the cover of the print book they own. Then they must write their name clearly on the book’s copyright page and take a photo/scan of the page with the app. Once the copyright page is scanned, the e-book is registered to that consumer and they will receive an email with a link to download the e-book in e-Pub or PDF formats.”
So, no, you cannot go to the bookstore or library and take photos of every cover and copyright page. The book must belong to you.
You can use the BitLit app with your Apple products or your Android. Currently, the app offers access to about 20,000 titles, most of which are from independent publishers. Some of the publishers and distributors that have partnered with BitLit are IPG, Chicago Review Press, O’Reilly Media, Other Press, and Kids Can Press.
HarperCollins is the first of the Big Five to partner with BitLit. With its introductory program, HarperCollins will launch six titles priced from $1.99 to $2.99. A few of these titles will include Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, 15 Seconds by Andrew Gross, and Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison. HarperCollins plans to offer a new title each week, and will promote the bundling program via its newsletter and its recently relaunched wesbite, HarperCollins.com.
Chief-Digital Officer at HarperCollins, Chantal Restivo-Alessi, said BitLit “offers readers another way to engage with the books they’ve purchased so they can read in various formats as they choose. It provides added value to consumers at a discounted price, and additional sales for our authors.”
Overall, it appears that BitLit is both a store for e-books and a hub for retrieving, sometimes free, e-book versions of the physical titles we already own. Using BitLit as the outlet for providing e-book versions is a great option for publishers. Then, all the publisher would have to do is simply advertise on the physical book, or through a newsletter like HarperCollins, that the e-book version is available through BitLit for free or for a discounted price.
I really hope this catches on with even more publishers. I know I would have loved to own the e-book version of Haruki Murakami’s massive novel 1Q84 in congruence with my physical book. It definitely would have saved some space, and backache, on the subway.
Find out more about the partnership with HarperCollins and BitLit on Publishers Weekly.