• Print

Open Question: Would you fund your favorite author?

A new service lets authors pitch ideas and collect funding from readers. Would you donate?

questionmarkPublishers can start preparing for some new competition — from readers. A new crowdfunded service called Unbound launched at this year’s Hay Festival. The platform, which sounds similar to Kickstarter, allows readers to fund the books they want to read. A post at the Guardian describes how it works:

The Unbound.co.uk publishing platform … allows writers to pitch ideas online directly to readers who, if they are interested, pledge financial support. Once enough money has been raised, the author will write the book, with supporters receiving anything from an ebook to a limited first edition and lunch with the author, depending on their level of investment.

And Unbound didn’t launch with unknown self-publishing authors — Terry Jones is on board, as are Tibor Fischer and Gavin Pretor-Pinney.

This raises the question: Would you fund your favorite author?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Webcast: Digital Bookmaking Tools Roundup — Pete Meyers looks at the growing number of digital book tools: what’s best, what’s easiest to use, and what’s worth putting in your book-building toolkit.

Join us on Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 10 am PT

Register for this free webcast


tags: , , , ,

Comments: 3

  1. Brent J. Nordquist

    “Would you fund your favorite author?”

    Yes, absolutely. And by cutting out the middlemen, more of my money would go to the author.

    This is like the “street performer protocol” that Bruce Schneier has talked about; the Wikipedia article calls it the “threshold pledge system”. It applies to more than just books.


    The advent of the Internet and the traditional media companies’ flailing response to try to maintain the old model with the legal system and avoid losing “control”, has made it clear there’s a need to think creatively about new models for making sure creators get compensated for their works — models that work with the reality of the Internet, and not against it (which ultimately will not succeed).

    What’s great about this model is that there’s no worry about “piracy” and no need to drag anyone to court. If the escrow system is trusted, the author gets what they decide is fair compensation, the contributors get a guarantee that they don’t spend a cent unless they get the work they were promised, and the resulting work can be made available to everyone once it’s done… exposing the author’s work to even more people. What’s not to like?

    One significant hitch, however, is that new authors are probably going to have to commit to a significant ramp-up time early in their career before they’re recognized enough that an announcement of a new book pre-pledge would command the kind of pledge level that ultimately they are going to want. It probably means doing their early work for not much compensation, just to gain this recognition.

  2. Yes, I would fund my favorite author. (I already fund my favorite band.) The two-fold problem, however, is that my favorite author would need to also be the favorite author of probably another ~2999 people just to fund the creation process, but — bigger picture — probably came to be my favorite author through (quasi-)traditional channels that are already ensuring that they don’t need to have people donating to their ability to write and then sell a book.

    There’s also an economic model danger here in that people can donate to the creation of a good or service that will then be sold at, necessarily, a loss. (If it weren’t a loss, then the donation would be an investment, not a donation.) Maybe the people with the money don’t care because money needs to be widely distributed in order to have a functional monetary system, but it does kind of break (theoretical) capitalism to have below-cost goods and services on the market.

  3. Unfortunately, most of my favorite authors are long dead.