Here are a couple of news items from the Baen Bar. The first and most important has to do with the way in which Baen e-book buyers are able to pass along freebies to their friends. Until now, the way it worked was that someone would buy one of Baen’s monthly bundles of e-books, in which a half dozen or so books were sold for $18 together, and would then be able to pass the exact same bundle along free in an email to any friend who was not already a Baen member. That friend could then log in and download the exact same e-books the gifter just bought.

The problem is that ever since Baen had to stop making its bundles available after the month in which they come out as part of its deal to place its books with Amazon and other stores, people who received gifts from those who bought the bundles at the last minute have often found themselves out of luck—the free month couldn’t be redeemed after it stopped being sold, even though the email claimed it was “good for one year.”

In order to remedy this, Jenny Cunningham of the Baen E-books Web Team recently announced a change in the policy. Instead of a free monthly bundle, the giftee would receive a $9.99 gift certificate, which could be used to buy any one Baen e-book (effectively getting one e-book free. since Baen e-books are sold in price tiers of $6.99. $8.99, or $9.99) or put toward the purchase of any available bundle. The recipient must still not have bought anything from Baen yet (at least at that email address), which means that they’re effectively one to a customer.

Cunningham writes:

We believe this change will actually reduce confusion as many new Baen Ebooks customers need some guidance in the way our Bundles work, or did not understand the free Bundle was limited to the Bundle their friend purchased. Opening it up to $9.99 off anything gives the new customer more options to explore our site and pick an Ebook that piques their interest.

As with the previous bundle program, if the recipient buys a monthly bundle himself, he can then pass the $9.99 gift certificate on to one of his friends, hence making a chain. He doesn’t get this option if he buys just one book.

On the one hand, it’s a little sad that the value of the gift has dropped from $18 to $10. On the other, such a certificate could be more useful all in all—because maybe your friend doesn’t have the same tastes you do and he’d rather buy something else. And, as Jenny Cunningham notes, it is easier for the average person to understand.

The program change is being discussed in the “Baen Ebooks” group of the Baen Bar, and separately on the Mobileread forum.

The other bit of Baen news has to do with Operation Baen Bulk, the donation program with the goal of buying Kindles and loading them with e-books for recovering wounded soldiers,

Keith, the “Vice Chair/Founder/Logistics Guru” of the operation reports that they have purchased 80 ad-free fourth-generation Kindle e-readers, and have a library of over 450 books ready to go with more being added every day. They are also building a DVD image to be made available for download, assuming they can clear it with the authors who granted permission for the books to be loaded into the Kindles.

The Kindles will be distributed to deserving soldiers at Fort Bragg, Scofield Barracks, Fort Lewis, and Fort Drum, via the base chaplains. They may be able to buy more Kindles down the road for still more soldiers. Good for them!


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