Humble Bundle -- the pay-what-you-like site -- tries audiobooks

Humble Bundle is one of those websites trying to make optimal use of our digital world. It combines downloads with a pay-what-you-like system that funnels money to charity. And for the first time, it’s trying its hand at audiobooks.

This is how it works. Every week or two, Humble Bundle makes a set -- bundle -- of digital downloads freely available. Downloaders are asked to pay what they like: what they think the downloads are worth, what they can afford, an amount that represents their appreciation of the creator.

When paying, downloaders can elect to send the money to one of two specified charities, to the creators, Humble Bundle itself or some combination.


Usually, Humble Bundle traffics in video games. Sometimes, those bring in $1 million, $2 million.

For the first time, it’s giving audiobooks a shot. Currently mid-campaign, it’s recently added six audiobooks to the initial five. All are available in MP3 format, DRM-free.

What’s in the bundle? Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” Dave Eggers’ “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” “The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie, bestselling novelist Meg Cabot’s “Abandon” and William S. Burroughs’ “Junky.” The set includes Grace Krilanovich’s “The Orange Eats Creeps,” published by indie Two Dollar Radio, and “True Grit” being read by novelist Donna Tartt.

Humble Bundle has given e-books a shot at least twice before. 2012’s set included e-books by Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link and John Scalzi; 2013’s included books by Wil Wheaton and Cory Doctorow. But the audience for the site is made up largely of people who play video games, not all of whom embrace the e-book and audiobook bundles.

Reactions to the audiobook offering, which launched Jan. 21, have been mixed. The initial Facebook post about it has more than 250 comments -- many in favor, but some that aren’t (and say so with profanity).

With six days to go, almost 30,000 bundles have been sold, raising more than $180,000.


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