Have a copy of Neil Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, but don’t want to haul a 900 page book around with you? Publisher HarperCollins now lets you buy an eBook edition for just a few bucks if you can prove that you already own a print copy of the book.

It’s part of a pilot program that has the publisher partnering with eBook service BitLit.


BitLit lets you write your name on the copyright page of books you own, snap a photo with your smartphone camera, and upload the image to unlock the opportunity to pick up a digital copy for around $2 to $3, depending on the title. BitLit uses image recognition technology to verify your information automatically.

The service already offers over 20,000 books, but most are from small or independent publishers. HarperCollins is the first of the major publishers to partner with the service.

Right now only a handful of HaperCollins titles are available through BitLit, including Cryptonomicon, Wicked by Gregory Maguire, Halfway to the Grave, by Jeaniene Frost, Black Magic Sanction, by Kim Harrison, and a few more. Every week the publisher plans to offer another title as part of the pilot program.

BitLit isn’t the only company to offer cheap eBooks to folks who’ve already paid for a print edition. Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook program also lets you purchase eBooks for $2.99 when you’ve already purchased a print edition. But in order for a book to qualify for MatchBook you need to have bought that title from Amazon.

There are iOS and Android versions of the BitLit app. Some books are DRM-free, but publishers who request DRM offer books using Adobe’s digital rights management software.

via Boing Boing

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2 replies on “HarperCollins, BitLit offer cheap eBooks of print books you already own”

  1. “BitLit uses image recognition technology to verify your information automatically.”

    How does it do this? I don’t think this is possible.

    Maybe what they do is embed the image of the copyright page with the name of the (alleged) owner of the physical book into the DRM’ed EBook copy as a “mild” deterrent to unlawful copying. But notice I emphasize the “mild” when calling this a deterrent. Once a copy gets into the wild – it doesn’t matter.

    Jeez, just get rid of the DRM, charge a fair yet affordable price in the first place, get rid of your Global distribution (region locked) restrictions, and sit back and collect your profits. Yes there will be some illegal copying, but that is going to happen no matter what you try to do to stop it.

    Grow up, get rid of the Lawyers, conduct business.

  2. “lets you buy an eBook edition for just a few bucks if you can prove that you already own a print copy of the book.”

    or more likely…

    “lets you buy an eBook edition for just a few bucks if you can prove that you already BORROWED and PHOTOSHOPPED a print copy of the book.”

    $2.99 is probably what an ebook should cost anyway. it’s crazy the prices – you can pick up physical books for $5 or less at clearance centres. big, thick, glossy books. All consigned to the clearance counters. Better that than pulping.

    No transport, “print” once, no distributors (or fewer), no inventory, already formatted, already proof read/edited. I will not buy DRM books. Too many readers and locked into a system. Must be lots of others in the same boat as most books are available if u look. So DRM is not stopping illegal releases. Nothing learnt from the music industry fiasco.

    If books are to have a chance, the $10 a month subscription stands the best chance of getting money from people.

    I have bought books: ones that are DRM free. I dont mind if they embed my name on the book. I’m not going to share it if they do that.

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