How many business models can the Internet disrupt or destroy?
Since the rise of the ‘Net we’ve seen classified ads wither, many trade publications that were on paper die off or move to the Web, the music market changed out of all recognition … it’s a long list and while some might bemoan the passing of the familiar there’s really no choice about it; the impact of the Internet is inescapable.
Which brings me to books or, rather, e-books.
Just as e-books changed traditional book publishing so an intriguing startup, unglue.it, is aiming to change how e-books are brought to market. The service has just launched with the tag line "the bookstore for books that want to be free” and what they’re doing is to publish “a comprehensive database of Creative Commons licensed books while offering authors and publishers new ways to make ends meet.” Best of all of the books are DRM-free!
There are three campaigns authors can select from:
- In a Pledge Campaign, book lovers pledge their support for ungluing a book. If enough support is found to reach the goal (and only then), the supporter's credit cards are charged, and an unglued ebook is released.
- In a Buy-to-Unglue Campaign, every ebook copy sold moves the book's ungluing date closer to the present. And you can donate ebooks to your local library- that's something you can't do in the Kindle or Apple Stores!
- In a Thanks-for-Ungluing Campaign, the ebook is already released with a Creative Commons license. Supporters can express their thanks by paying what they wish for the license and the ebook.
The first Creative Commons-licensed work was Cory Doctorow’s "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” ...
... while the second was "Acts of the Apostles” ...
.... penned (or, more likely, keyboarded) by my friend, John F.X. Sundman - if you’re a sci-fi lover this is a great read having been variously described as a “seminal dot-com-boom cyberpunk novel” (by TechCrunch) and “jolly good” (by me).
“Acts ...” is part of Sundman’s "Mind Over Matter" trilogy and the other two works, "Cheap Complex Devices" (a novella about the Hofstadter Prize for Machine-Written Narrative) and "The Pains” (an illustrated dystopian phantasmagoria), will also be made available for free download from Unglue.it while his “half-new” novel "Biodigital" will be available exclusively through Unglue.it's "Buy-to-Unglue" program and will earn its way to a Creative Commons license based on support from readers.
What excites me about Unglue.it is the opportunity for authors who don’t have the time and energy to follow the traditional publishing route to get their works to market. Unglue.it allows them to easily distribute their works and build a following and, if they choose, get compensated for doing so. For readers it’s a gold mine of great books that they can have a say in bringing to market and promoting.
PS. Do check out Sundman's books, I highly recommend them.