I already mentioned that I’m a big fan of Dilbert. Creator Scott Adams is apparently in the process of writing a new book called Win Bigly – Persuasion in a World where Facts don’t Matter. I do not really care about Adams’ non-Dilbert activities (especially not his political campaigning), I do not read his blog and I know absolutely nothing about the book, but recently a post headline got my attention. Adams is offering a bonus chapter to people who preordered the book.
At a first glance this is just a nice addition for his fans. On a second thought, however, I am appalled by this and preorder culture in general. We have seen this before with video games, that are absolutely pestered by this. Loads of content that should just be in a game is held hostage in an opaque system of editions, preorder bonuses and future paid additions (that can of course also be preordered and have their own preorder bonuses). All designed to make the customer fork over their money as soon as possible, months or even years before they can expect even a glimpse of the promised goods. With ebooks and digital distribution steadily on the rise it is only a matter of time until book publishers want their piece of the preorder cake.
Maybe in the near future we can choose between the “Silver”, “Gold”, “Platinum” and “Digital Deluxe” edition of a book, each offering one more piece of content over the previous one (for a higher price, of course). And maybe authors and publishers will make mutually exclusive deals with different distributors, each with their own exclusive preorder chapter. So to get the full experience you don’t just buy the deluxe edition, but need the preorder bonuses from several retail outlets, meaning that you have to preorder the same book more than once!
Again, I’m not saying that this is necessarily where books are heading. I’m Just saying that modern high-budget video games often come with a matrix laying out which combination of edition and retailer-specific preorder bonus will offer which content to the buyer. Book publishers are no less interested in getting their money as soon as possible, so I am expecting that they will test the waters soon. And we are the ones that can stop this from happening to books. For my part, I will ignore any book that fractionates its content like this.
To be fair, I don’t know when Win Bigly is going to come out, and if you even can still preorder it. Maybe Adams offered this extra content long after the fact as a way to thank his day-one-supporters, but I personally doubt it. By the way, according to some commenters, Adams’ bonus chapter is not that interesting, and pretty much identical to an older blog post of his (pointed out by user Dan on Scott Adam’s Blog).
This is just my opinion on preorder bonuses for books. Feel free to leave a comment about what you think.