Take Your Bookshelf Anywhere: BitLit Gives Readers an eBook Version of a Book They Already Own

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“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”Ernest Hemingway

Just hauling around your favourite books, or even worse, helping move the bookworms library is back breaking. In spite of digitization, people are still extremely connected to their books. Software has yet to eat print because it’s a completely different experience leafing through pages, than swiping at pixels.

According to PwCthe digital tipping point is on the horizon. Their 2013 Entertainment & Media Outlook report suggests trade eBooks (excluding educational publications) will reach $8.2 billion in sales by 2017 to surpass printed book sales, which are expected to fall from $11.9 billion in 2012 to $7.9 billion in 2017.

The dilemma for many readers isn’t simply about owning a print version versus the digital: they want both. But wanting both comes with a price. It’s like the publishers are double-dipping.

However, an app from Vancouver’s BitLit is solving this dilemma.

Now you can love having books on your shelves and have a digital copy for convenience. BitLit allows readers to get an eBook of a print book they already own. As long as they own the book, readers can use BitLit to download the eBook for free or at a highly discounted price.

According to O’Reilly Media’s general manager Pascal Honscher, “BitLit fills a market niche that brings considerable value to readers wishing they had the access to the eBook versions.”

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If readers own titles such as these, they can easily add them to their digital collection:

- Neal Ford’s “Software Architecture”

- Micha Gorelick’s “High Performance Python”

- Andreas Antonopoulos’ Mastering Bitcoin

- Elisabeth Robson’s “Head First JavaScript”

Peter Hudson is BitLit’s founder and CEO, and shared the “going all in” moment came when a heated debate couldn’t be settled, because the book needed was sitting on his friends bookshelf. “That moment we knew that you should be able to have an eBook of a print work you already own.”

With no solution to the problem, Hudson knew the biggest challenge was “ultimately all about the publisher being able to trust that you actually own the book. We realized that everybody has a supercomputer loaded with sensors sitting in their pocket, and connected to a network. We envisioned signing your name on the book and just snapping that picture. Eleven days later we filed a provisional patent application.”

Building the business is more than just building the app. Hudson hit the phone hard. He wasn’t pitching publishers an idea, he was asking for their commitment.

Today, Hudson reports they have over 70 publishers signed, some of which are major distributors who are bringing their publishers on board. They’ve signed on Firebrand, The Independent Publishers Group and more in the pipeline.

Johanna Vondeling, vice president at Berrett-Koehler Publishers is on board. She saidmany readers of BK books are busy professionals who travel a lot; Bitlit’s bundling program offers them the opportunity to have access to their libraries on their devices, wherever they are, whenever they want to read.  And for our authors, bundling offers a new revenue model that is fair to writers and readers alike.”

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For the business inclined reader, titles such as these are now a click away:

- Brian Tracy’s “Eat That Frog!”

- The Arbinger Institute’s “Leadership and Self-Deception”

- John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”

Another key reason that publishers are getting on board with BitLit is that distribution still matters, the physical bookstore is still very relevant. For Hudson, “Amazon is a brilliant place to buy the book when you know what you want. It’s not the place to discover books though. That’s what you need the bookstore for.”

Hudson doesn’t hold back with his conviction that they’re disrupting Amazon’s business model. “They haven’t been able to form a revolution around the Kindle after eight years, which means that technology can be disrupted. It doesn’t give to readers what the iPod gave to music lovers. It doesn’t give them the physical copy, which is what readers want.”

The BitLit app is available at both the App Store and Google Play.

“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” John Locke

John Gray

John Gray

John jumped into the start-up world in early 2009. He was co-founder of Mentionmapp, a visual analytics company that was acquired in October 2011. John is Launch Academy's Program Facilitator, and is leading their Lean Entrepreneur Program. He's a freelance writer, focusing on keeping the humanity in our conversations about technology. John has a B.Ap.Sc. in Communications and a B.A. in English, both from Simon Fraser University.