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Pay-what-you-want eBook bundle makes $1.1m in two weeks

An experiment which allows readers to pay what they like for a collection of eBooks has unexpectedly reached sales of more than $1.1 million (£700,000) in under two weeks, it was revealed today.

The Humble eBook Bundle (opens in new tab) went live on 9 October, offering customers a selection of novels and comics by award-winning science fiction and fantasy writers including Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow.

Since then, it has sold more than 80 thousand bundles of eBook receiving an average price of $14 (£9). The promotion is due to close later today and has so far pulled in more than $1.1 million (£700,000) with one user paying a whopping $1,238 (£773) for the 13 books.

The packages are DRM-free, which means readers are not restricted in how many times they download or copy the eBooks. Sold separately, the collection of books would cost $157 (£98) - more than ten times the average price paid per bundle - but readers are allowed to choose the price they want to pay for the bundle, as well as how they split their payment between different authors.

(opens in new tab)The pricing experiment by Humble Bundle has been applied before to music and games with many deeming it an "ingenious" concept.

New authors like Lauren Bewkes (opens in new tab), whose debut novel Zoo City (opens in new tab) features in the bundle, says she joined the "grand crazy experiment" as a way to attract new readers but has since found the level of sales to be "gobsmacking" and on par with those seen on The New York Times bestseller list.

"I didn't realise there would be over 75,000 of them spending more than a million dollars in two weeks on books. This is New York Times bestseller-level sales. And for a lesser-known author like me it's meant that it's eclipsed all my sales on Zoo City to date. The response has been gobsmacking and humbling and amazing," she said.

Humble Bundle is now planning future eBook bundles. Business development director Robert Martinez said the last two weeks' experiment had made an impact on the eBooks scene "that cannot be ignored."

"The reception to this eBook bundle has been outstanding and we couldn't be more thrilled. We believe it is a great indication for the future of eBooks and Humble Bundle."

"By allowing a consumer to decide exactly what they pay and where their money goes then suddenly they are in the controlling position. This, in essence, is why we believe our model works," he said.