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2015: The Bundle of Holding year in review

2015: The Bundle of Holding year in review

by Friday 1 January 2016
AllenVarney-GenCon2014Allen Varney here, operator of the Bundle of Holding. In 2015, its third year of operation, the Bundle site launched 53 time-limited offers of tabletop roleplaying game ebooks, down from 62 in 2014. Though the reduced number brought a revenue drop of about 10% year-on-year, this suits me fine. Since the site’s inception in February 2013, running it had felt like hauling electric eels through a minefield in a hailstorm. I gritted my teeth so long and so hard — this is true — I cracked a molar. By contrast, in 2015 the workflow smoothed out, the site stabilized, and my teeth didn’t hurt.¬†This is quite the best gig I’ve ever had.

VampireTheMasquerade-2eIn 2015 the site sold over 35,000 bundles. An average Bundle of Holding offer sold 701 copies at a final threshold price of US$21.15. Ten percent of each payment went to charity; this past year the Bundle of Holding donated a total of $72,053 to over two dozen charities. Since the site lanched, Bundle of Holding customers have donated a total of $196,537 to a huge range of charities. As always, I thank all the site’s customers for their generosity. After scattershot choices of charities in 2014 and early 2015, the site’s offers now benefit a few reputable institutions, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reading is Fundamental, Doctors Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch.

Mazza-BloodRedSandsSome 2015 milestones: Blood Red Sands, part of the November Indie Cornucopia +3, was title #1,000 in the site’s backend file index. Early on Christmas Eve morning, the site sold its 100,000th bundle, a copy of the 13th Age offer.

TravellerLBBs-CoreRulesAnd for the first time, on New Year’s Eve, the Bundle site launched two offers at once — the Traveller “Little Black Books” offers, which between them present the entire run of over 50 half-size, black-covered manuals from the Golden Age of Traveller, 1977-1982. I feared this dual offer would confuse customers, but (as of Day 2) so far, so good. This indicates the site can safely present game lines too large for a single offer. That opens many possibilities, and you’ll see them this year.

13thAge-CorebookFirst-time contributors this past year included Onyx Path Publishing, Catalyst Game Labs, Kenzer & Company, Triple Ace Games, Agate RPG, Exile Game Studio, Osprey Publishing, and many others. I hope they’ll all be back in 2016 and beyond. Just as gratifying, many alumni returned — notably Pelgrane Press, which provided the Hillfolk and 13th Age Bundles, helped revive the Trail of Cthulhu, GUMSHOE, and Dying Earth offers, and contributed to two more. In August Pelgrane co-owner Simon Rogers wrote an article for ENworld that talked about the Bundle at length: “Atoms versus Electrons: eBooks and Roleplaying Games.”

TheStrange-CorebookThe most successful offers in 2015 all hit in the last quarter: The Strange from Monte Cook Games (October, 2,203 copies, US$46,796 gross revenue), 13th Age from Pelgrane Press (December, 1,284 copies, $45,561), and Cubicle 7 Entertainment’s The One Ring Roleplaying Game (October, 1,347 copies, $43,238). These offers succeeded not only through the stellar quality of the games, but because the publishers enthusiastically promoted them. In conjunction with The Strange Bundle, Monte Cook wrote a nice article showing how to publicize a Bundle of Holding offer, and other publishers have heeded his words.

Several titles made their retail debut in Bundle offers, or were new to .PDF:

The year ahead

Though the Bundle of Holding schedule is writ on water — and sometimes whitewater rapids — I have offers penciled in through late May. Pending publisher approval, you’ll see more of the World of Darkness, the Cthulhu Mythos, several flavors of Traveller, Fate, and many themed offers of indie games in genres from espionage to anthropomorphics. And there should be one revival of a past offer nearly every month. Remember, you can get notified of all these offers by subscribing to the free (and spam-free) mailing list here on this blog.

Speaking of this blog, in the past year it has rather languished. Maybe 2016 will bring the fruition of long-held plans. Stay tuned.