Here’s to Hybrids
Budding Reader is a hybrid. We’re part business – we aim to make a profit so we can afford to publish more books. And part social mission: what gets us up in the morning is giving books to children in need.
The new website, Unglue.it is also a hybrid. They are part crowdsourced funding platform – people chip in to give books to the world. And part library savior: they aim to create a world where everyone, everywhere has a library of free eBooks to read and share. A world where books never “go out of print”, new ideas can emerge and privacy can be safeguarded.
We are running a campaign for Cat and Rat on Unglue.it and if we meet our goal by midnight on August 31st, then we’ll release an “unglued” eBook version of this book set that will be free for all children everywhere to read. What exactly is an “unglued” eBook? We asked Eric Hellman, the visionary behind Unglue.it, to explain. Here are our questions for Eric and his answers:
What exactly is Unglue.it?
Unglue.it is a website that allows authors and publishers to ask the public to “unglue” their books. The rights holder sets an “ungluing fee” and launches a campaign. If enough people support the campaign to reach the target, the rights holder agrees to make the book free to the world under a creative commons license.
What problems does Unglue.it solve for libraries, publishers, and readers? What motivated you to create it?
Libraries are increasingly finding that publishers are unwilling to allow them to lend eBooks, which bodes ill for libraries in a future when most readers want to read digitally. Publishers are afraid to allow libraries to lend because they believe few people will buy eBooks if they can get them free from a library. Readers just want to read books without having Amazon log every page they turn, and be able to share what they read with their friends. Unglue.it seemed a logical way to break this logjam.
Cat and Rat is already easily available online, why should people bother to come together to unglue a book when it is already easily accessible in electronic form?
Cat and Rat can help a child learn to read. If it is unglued, it will be available to all children, everywhere, at no charge. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
You’ve talked to a lot of people about Unglue.it – librarians at the American Library Association, publishers at Book Expo America, and the open source software community among others. Which constituency seems to be most enthusiastic about the concept of Unglue.it and why do you suppose that is?
A lot of authors and publishers are often puzzled by Unglue.it. Selling books by the copy is so deeply ingrained that they can’t imagine other ways to do business. Almost everyone else I talk to is enthusiastic.
What is the most encouraging sign you see that Unglue.it is a viable model?
259 people joined together to unglue “Oral Literature in Africa”, a 1970 classic of scholarship. It’s just one book, but you have to start somewhere!
Forty people so far have made pledges to Budding Reader’s campaign to unglue “Cat and Rat”. If you are one of them, thank you so much. If not, please consider pledging. After all, how often do you get the chance to give a gift to all the world’s children?