Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, Cory Doctorow and Mercedes Lackey are among the authors who've included their works in the first Humble e-book Bundle. The Humble Bundle operation has previously distributed indie video games and raised more than $7 million for charity; now it is getting into the e-book game.
This is how the Humble Bundle works: Pay what you like for a set of six science fiction-fantasy books. If you donate more than the average payment -- which changes in real time -- you get two more.
The books in the main set are "Magic for Beginners" and "Stranger Things Happen" by Link, Doctorow's new novel, "Pirate Cinema," Paolo Bacigalupi's "Pump Six," Lackey's "Invasion" and "Zoo City" by Lauren Beukes. The two bonus books are "Signal to Noise" by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean and "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi.
As the person wielding the money, you have additional power. You can decide how to divide the proceeds among the authors, the Humble Bundle organization and three nonprofits.
The authors are paid directly for their work, which they like. Savvy e-book consumers will appreciate the fact that the e-books are DRM free.
(Aside: DRM, which stands for Digital Rights Management, is a way of digitally restricting creative content so it can be listened to, read or seen only in a certain format or by a particular device. It's a way for companies to try to prevent privacy yet is considered by some to be overly restrictive.)
The nonprofits are the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which works to support free speech and other rights online; a healthcare fund at the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America; and Child's Play Charity, which brings video games into children's hospitals.
If you buy your Humble e-book Bundle and choose the default distribution, it will send 50% of your money to the authors, two-thirds of the rest to charity and the rest to Humble Bundle. But you can decide to distribute it differently, giving more to charity, more to the authors, etc.
BoingBoing tells us that Humble Bundle has previously raised more than $7.2 million for charity. That must be because of the genius interface, which is far more transparent than those of most charitable operations. The site has a live online ticker showing how many bundles have been sold, how much money has been contributed and who the biggest contributors are.
Want to give more than Wil Wheaton (or someone making a donation under Wil Wheaton's name)? Then pony up more than $242.
The offer, which went up Tuesday, will continue for two more weeks. When I began writing this post, about 10,000 Humble e-book Bundles had been sold, and the number has been steadily climbing. Funds have exceeded $150,000.