Selling chapters instead of books; Redux

It might surprise you, but this humble blog gets letters.  After I posted on an article in the Wall Street Journal about publishers selling books by the chapter Tom Hall, Product Manager for Lonely Planet’s Pick & Mix, wrote to tell me about how his company is using this technology or strategy:
Just came across your response to the WSJ article on Random House‘s buy-by-chapter test. Just thought I’d let you know that we (Lonely Planet) launched a buy-by-chapter product last July, called Pick & Mix, which enables customers to purchase and download individual digital chapters from our travel guides.
The response has been outstanding, significantly better than expected. When we launched, only our guides to Latin America were offered. But due to the positive feedback we’ve expanded to include guidebooks to North America, with Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific coming very soon (like this week) [now available. -KH].
I agree that offering individual chapters from a work where the chapters build on each other may not be appealing. But for travel guides, the buy-by-chapter approach seems to work. For example, when travelling to one particular region of a country, like Patagonia for example, you may not want to lug the entire Argentina guide along – many travellers have written us to say they appreciate being able to get just the bits of our books they need, and saving weight, luggage space, paper, and ink.
I agree that this seems a much more logical approach.  I can see this working in other areas where a reader might want just a specific section rather than the whole book.
Now I just wish I had a reason to need a travel guide to some exotic place . . .
Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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