Friday, July 23, 2010

Two (thousand) is a Crowd

Anyone heard of crowdfunding? I hadn't until I read an article in The Guardian the other day.

Seems it is a way of raising funds from many small contributors, mostly on the internet, to finance projects - anything from charity work, to recording a new album, to making a movie.

Here's how Wikipedia defines it:

Crowdfunding (sometimes called crowd financing or crowd sourced capital) describes the collective cooperation, attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowdfunding occurs for any variety of purposes, from disaster relief to citizen journalism to artists seeking support from fans, to political campaigns.

And there's an interesting article in Time Magazine on how a website called CatwalkGenius.com helps bankroll new fashion designers; how Brit filmmaker Franny Armstrong raised more than $800,000 to make a movie that went on to premier at the Sundance Film Festival; how another site called SellaBand.com brings together music lovers with unsigned musicians wanting to record albums.

But the thing that caught my interest in The Guardian article was how a French publisher called Editions du Public, employing the slogan "I invest in what I want to read", is harnessing the power of crowdfunding to help readers publish authors. Selected books are promoted on the publisher's website, and readers can discuss it with the author via the website's forum, ultimately deciding whether or not to invest in it's publication.

That investment amounts to €11 ($14), and each book requires 2000 investors, or what are known as co-publishers, to finance its publication. When the requisite number of investors has been found, the publisher will discuss text and layout with the author and sell the book both online and through bookstores. They claim that the co-publishers could make up to eight times the amount of their investment, depending upon sales of course, as well as getting a free copy of the book.

Think of all those mid-list authors dumped on the scrapheap by publishers who didn't give a damn about the thousands of readers out there who still wanted more. Wouldn't any one of those readers be happy to pay $14 for a copy of a book by their favourite author - a cover price which would also buy them into a share of the book's profits?

What an opportunity for some enterprising small publisher to put a host of established authors back in print, financed entirely by their readers. Now that's what I call reader power!

An interesting idea. What do you think?

You can read The Guardian article by clicking on this link.

8 comments:

Janice said...

I was thinking, given how easy and cheap it is to self publish, why not go straight to that and do it yourself?

But I guess there's a good marketing angle here... If you have two thousand "angels" investing, then you have 2,000 people with an interest in helping you to sell the book by word of mouth. Not to mention 2,000 initial sales.

Hmmm. Interesting.

Donis Casey said...

I didn't know what to think about this at first, but Janice makes a good point. Has anyone done such a thing on this side of the Pond yet?

peter_may said...

Not sure, Donis, but I don't think so. If I wasn't so busy writing, I'd give it a go myself!

peter_may said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vicki Delany said...

Re Janice's comment on self-pub, I always wonder why people seem to forget about libraries and bookstores. How many books do libraries buy? They might buy a self-pub'ed book by a local author, but that's about it. And yesterday it was a rainy day here and I was in a bookstore. There was a line up of about 10 people with books they wanted to buy. At guess, I'd say 0 were self-published.

peter_may said...

?

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