When the Bundle of Holding debuted in February 2013, I never imagined I’d eventually prepare more than 420 time-limited offers comprising nearly 3,000 tabletop roleplaying game .PDFs and RPG-related ebooks. This floors me. In my whole life I’m not sure I’ve done anything 420 times that wasn’t strictly biological.
This month the site’s lifetime total sales surpassed 303,000 bundles, purchased by more than 59,000 customers. With three days left in 2019 as I write, you’ve purchased 49,360 bundles this year, down about 7% from 52,922 in 2018. (2017: 51,600; 2016: 37,938; 2015: 37,789; 2014: 41,915.) As always, I thank all of you for your kind support. And a hearty callout to the many customers who buy dozens of offers — to the 194 customers who have bought 100 or more — to the 25 with 200+ — and especially to four longtime supporters who have, incredibly, bought more than 300 offers apiece. I wish you all a long life with enough free time to play all those games.
Helping designers in need
This year brought bad news for — well, for practically everybody, but I’m thinking of four RPG designers and the Bundle offers I launched, mostly on a few days’ notice, to help them.
A busted computer is one thing, but the other three designers faced real calamity:
- After Gen Con in August, Battlefield Press owner Jonathan Walton returned to Shreveport, Louisiana to find that a burglar had robbed his home and had then, to hide the burglary, set the house on fire. The Savage Battlefield Bundle helped Jonathan and his family live while they waited to return home.
- In late October Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams, Creative Director of Triple Ace Games, designer of many popular Savage Worlds settings, and longtime Bundle supporter, suffered a debilitating stroke. I hope the Necropolis 2350 Bundle, featuring Wiggy’s grimdark Savage Worlds setting of humanity on the brink of extinction, helped keep him from personal extinction.
Charity in 2019
Leaving aside the four designer benefits I mentioned, ten percent of the revenue (after payment gateway fees) from each Bundle of Holding offer goes to an established charity. At this writing the Bundle’s 2019 charity earnings total nearly US$110,000; lifetime donations (counting those from seven offers in progress, which I’ll send in January) stand at $645K. Frequent beneficiaries this year included the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Ocean Conservancy, Rainforest Trust, and Vision Rescue.
The mysterious mailing list
The Bundle of Holding mailing list, my free (and spam-free) weekly email announcement of new offers, is a puzzle. Its growth is weirdly burst-y.
- July 2013 – Aug 2014: 7,000 subscribers in the first year, yay!
- Aug 2104 – Aug 2016: Wait, only 2,000 more names in two years?! Wha’ hoppen?
- Sept 2016 – July 2019: Some kind of network effect kicks in, or the planets realign, and suddenly ~500 new people join each month, +15,000 in three years, zoooom!
- July 2019: The list reaches 24,500 addresses and then — stops. Or rather, it churns, with hundreds of subscribes and unsubscribes balancing in steady state.
You might also follow the Bundle of Holding Facebook page and @BundleHolding Twitter feed. But really, the less time we all spend on social media in 2020, the better we’ll feel.
The year ahead
My 2020 vision for the Bundle site calls for, let’s see, about six dozen offers. In contrast to past years, many of these will be revivals of popular past bundles, including some that haven’t appeared for four or five years. For longtime mailing-list subscribers who might not want to hear about revivals, I plan to set up the options on your Account Settings page so you can choose to receive announcements of all offers, or of new offers only.
Every year I talk about introducing new bundle sites that appeal to different hobby communities. At last, after more than a year of work and huge expense, the Bundle site programmers have finally rewritten the codebase to enable these spinoffs. Next month I hope to launch a new site featuring collections of .PDF sewing, quilting, knitting, cosplay, and fabric arts patterns and ebooks. I’m told there’s a nonzero overlap between gamers and knitters, so if you know someone who might be interested, stay tuned and I’ll let you know when to start spreading the word.
(Your existing Bundle of Holding account login will work on all the spinoff sites too. And on your Account Settings page you’ll be able to subscribe to just the announcements for the sites that interest you.)
For America and the world it’s been a tough run of years, and in 2020 things will grow still worse on many fronts. I hope the Bundle of Holding, at least, can provide a bright spot. Again I thank you all for your interest and support.
(Previous year-in-review posts: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014)