Vancouver’s BitLit Takes Cue from Music Industry, Brings Print and E-books Together as One

There is nothing like flipping through the pages of your favourite book, feeling the thickness of the literature move from one hand to the other. But there are novels, textbooks and manuals that resemble cinderblocks. It takes up so much room in your bag and exhausts your arms while you’re reading on the bus.

Since the introduction of e-book readers such as Kindles and Nooks, reading enthusiast no longer have to lug around those behemoths in public, but for many giving up the tender sensation of the paper page is unacceptable.

For those who can’t bear without physical print, BitLit is the reading hybrid. If a costumer can prove that they have purchased a printed copy, they will be able to request a digital version for a discount price. Working with publishing companies, BitLit have released an app that will record ownership of printed books.

Certifying ownership for a book on BitLit is simple. By writing your name onto the unmarked copyright page and submitting the photo of it by using the BitLit app, BitLit will register that the book belongs to you. After that you will be eligible to purchase a companion eBook for a bargain price or even get it for free.

“Traditionally, publishers and authors didn’t see any residual from used book sales, but traditionally new books stores also didn’t invite their customers back to list their used copy for sale on the same shelf as the new edition,” Peter Hudson, President and CEO of BitLit, writes on his startup’s blog. “The idea that somebody might buy a used edition of a physical book and then purchase the companion e-book copy through BitLit, suddenly allows publishers and authors to realize an up-sell on a used physical book transaction. That idea is interesting in that, as BitLit becomes more prolific, the value of a used book goes up because it represents a potential discount on an electronic version, and publishers and authors are able to realize part of that increase in value through the companion eBook sale.”

This new format of buying published works resembles the music industry, where producers are offering fans who buy CD or vinyl the choice to get digital MP3 copy of the album for a discount price or free. BitLit is hoping this new style of purchasing book will inspire and change the way publishers are selling books and the way people reading it.  

The app is set to launch with select publishers in July.