Just in time for the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, the library startup Unglue.it 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 Kickstarter.com 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 Unglue.it 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.
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 Unglue.it, was formerly a colleague of mine at OCLC.