This is an interesting idea I read about recently. Unbound.co.uk are looking to apply the Crowd Funding model to book publishing. It’s a simple enough concept. An author pitches an idea for a book. If enough people pledge enough money then the book becomes reality. Supporters can also get additional benefits depending on how much they pledge.
It’s interesting because it takes away some of the guesswork in judging whether a book will be successful or not. The creative industries tend to be a little conservative and risk averse, preferring to go for a slightly tepid ‘sure’ thing rather than gambling on something unusual.
This model mitigates a lot of the risk. Have a niche idea? Not sure there’s a big enough audience? Well, you can see right away. The project either generates enough interest and funding to get off the ground or it doesn’t.
I don’t think Unbound have it quite right just yet. The initial writers they have on board are already famous (Terry Jones, Amy Jenkins). While it’s good for them to see whether an idea is viable or not, it would be nice to see it used to uncover some unknowns.
I think the minimum £10 pledge is too high as well. There are the other benefits, but £10 for an ebook is a little steep, even with the extras. I wonder if they’re missing out by not having a £1 or similar mini-pledge option. £1 is closer to an impulse amount and might generate a lot of money from people that otherwise wouldn’t be interested in pledging the full tenner.
I think this model might be more interesting if applied to manuscripts from unknown writers. Here’s the first three chapters and a synopsis. If we get X thousand pledges, the book will become reality.
It’s got to be better than the sodding slush pile . . .