May 19, 2024 Frees Their First Book

Just in time for the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, the library startup has “unglued” their first book. What this means is that soon this book will be openly available as an ebook. What it took to “free” or, in their parlance, “unglue” it was a collection of monetary pledges from individuals similar to how helps launch ideas that need funding.

Individual donors are enticed by various incentive gifts at different price points. Donors are not actually charged unless a campaign is successful, and each campaign is time-bounded so if a given title does not make its goal by the deadline it isn’t freed.

So far there are only a few titles available for ungluing, but staffers believe getting a few successful campaigns under their belts are what is needed to entice other rights holders to play along. Having this first success is certainly essential to making the case that crowdsourcing compensation for authors and rights holders will work as a model for making more books freely available.

What was the first book freed? Oral Literature in Africa, by Ruth Finnegan. According to WorldCat, well over 700 libraries hold this title. A good start, I say.

If you’re going to ALA and the above is intriguing to you, look them up in the Exhibit Hall in the Small Press area, at table 2752. I’m sure they’d be delighted to answer your questions.


Full disclosure: Eric Hellman, the entrepreneur behind, was formerly a colleague of mine at OCLC.


Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.


  1. We will also happily give you stickers!

  2. What was the “price” for this first unglued book? How much money was raised?

    • Raymond Yee says:

      Hi Jonathan — the ungluing fee is $7500, and so far, $7653 has been raised. We close the campaign tonight at midnight EDT.