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DRM-Free E-Books Make Writers A Bundle of Cash

A group of writers are quids in following an experiment to sell a bundle of DRM-free e-books. Sales of The Humble Bundle, which included works from authors Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, and the much-loved xkcd comic strip, have been anything but humble, with over 84,000 bundles sold, earning the authors $1.1 million in sales.

What made the experiment so extraordinary was the fact that buyers could choose what they paid for the bundle, and how much of their price went to charity. WIth the average price coming in at $14.18, anyone who paid more than that got extra content included. One user even paid $1,238 for his 13 books which, if bought separately, would cost $157.

One of the writers has been left gobsmacked. Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City, initially saw the concept as a crazy experiment. "I didn't realize there would be over 75,000 of them spending more than a million dollars in two weeks on books!" she said. "This is New York Times bestseller-level sales."

The online publishing industry will have been given a real fillip by this—especially authors who choose to publish their own work by themselves. Larger publishing houses and retailers such as Amazon, both of which swear by the draconian DRM, will be looking to see how future bundles, already in the Humble Bundle pipeline, fare.