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Buy-to-Unglue Test Campaign: Flatland

flatland

After a lot of hard work, we’re now ready for some real-world testing of “Buy-to -Unglue“. We’re offering an epub of the public domain classic, Flatland

We want to make sure everything works well, fix any bugs, and show our publishing, author and library partners what the new world of ebooks can look like. Please let us know if you’re a publisher, author, or library and you want to help us unglue some books!

For the test we spent some time with the Google and Gutenberg scans of Flatland to produce a clean epub file. And we plan on doing some special things with it in the next couple of weeks. We’ve set the pricing so we we’ll make just a few cents per sale; between our payment provider, Stripe, and our license embedding vendor, Booxtream, we’ll barely net a first class stamp. If you choose to help us iron out all the kinks and buy a copy, we’ll be eternally grateful to you; you might even get a special badge! (You can get the Google or Gutenberg version instead, if you prefer.)

What you can do with the new features:

  • Join a library
  • Buy an individual license
  • Buy a license for a library you’ve joined
  • Download and read a book with embedded license
  • Watch the ungluing date advance

As always, we welcome your suggestions, criticisms, bug reports, and general nitpicking. Please use the feedback button on the right side of any Unglue.it page.  We already have a long list of improvements to make, but there’s nothing better that real-world usage to guide us. We’re so thankful for  the support you’ve given us over the past year and a half.

If you’ve not read Flatland, now is a great time to do so!

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Stefan Müller and “Complex Predicates”

stefan-muellerWe asked author Stefan Müller to tell us a little about his book Complex Predicates and why he wants to unglue it. As of October 15th, the campaign is at 29% and is definitely worth supporting.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about who you are?

Müller: I am professor for German and General Linguistics at the Freie Universität Berlin. I mainly work on German and Germanic languages, but also have projects on Mandarin Chinese, Persian and other languages.

I love books and I think all scientific books should be OA. Most of my books are accessible for free now, Complex Predicates is the last one that is missing.

My personal view on OA can be found here: http://hpsg.fu-berlin.de/~stefan/Pub/oa-jlm.html

In order to move a bit forward on the road to OA I founded Language Science Press http://langsci-press.org/ together with Martin Haspelmath.

Q:  Why might libraries or others be interested in this book and who are the potential readers?

Müller: It is a linguistics book that will be useful for syntacticians and morphologists working on the German language. It has several chapters dealing with different phenomena of German grammar and each of these chapters consists of three sections: Phenomenon, Analysis, and Alternatives. The phenomenon is described in theory neutral terms, so this should be useful for every linguist working on German or a language that has the same phenomenon. The descriptive part relates to theoretic proposals in that it discusses claims about impossibilities of certain structures. Corpus data is used to show that these structures are possible.

The analysis section provides a detailed and formalized analysis of the phenomena in the framework of Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). The analyses are internally consistent which is proven by a computer implementation (testable from the ungluing web page for the book).

The alternatives sections discuss alternative proposals from HPSG. Other frameworks like Government & Binding, LFG, and Construction Grammar are discussed in Chapter 7.

Since phenomena like passive, causatives, resultative constructions, depictive secondary predication and particle verbs exist in a lot of languages, researchers working on other languages will find the book useful too.

Q: What will be done with the money raised?

Müller: The money will be passed on to CSLI Publications. My contract transfers the rights back to me, once all copies are sold. By transferring the equivalent amount of money to CSLI Pubs, I can get the publication rights reverted and turn the book Open Access.

CSLI Publications is very different from other academic publishers. CSLI Pubs is a one person enterprise. It is not profit oriented. The goal is to publish great books and they indeed published a lot! CSLI Pubs is very important in the branch of linguistics I am working in. So ungluing this book not just helps the scientists who want to work with the book but also a great publisher who works for us not for share holders or other company owners.

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A New Kind of Ungluing Campaign

ungluitcoinBack in May, I wrote that we’re working on a new version of unglue.it, designed to broaden the range of books we can unglue. The main concept we’re adding is “Buy-to-Unglue”.

The basic idea behind “Buy To Unglue” is that the rights holder sets a sales revenue target, and when the target is met, the book becomes unglued. But the details of how to make this kind of campaign work are a bit tricky.

Here are some issues we’ve had to think about:

  1. What happens towards the end of a campaign? For example if a book is priced at $50 and the sales target is $6,000, will the last few copies sell, or will people wait for someone else to put the book over the top?
  2. What happens if the rights holder wants to change the per-copy price? Should they be allowed to raise the price? should they be able to lower the price for a week?
  3. How long should the campaign last? If a book doesn’t sell, can the campaign be called off?
  4. If a campaign has a limited term, what happens in the last few weeks? If the campaign fails, does the ungluing campaign revenue have any effect? Should the purchasers/campaign supporters get some sort of refund?

We struggled with triggers and conditions, thresholds and price limits, contingent payments and holdbacks, but it seemed to be getting too complicated. Finally, we came up with the idea of the “Dated Creative Commons” license and things started to fall into place. A Dated Creative Commons license is just a Creative Commons license with an effective date in the future. What’s hard for us to know is whether this idea translates well, whether it’s easy for non-copyright-nerds to understand.

So this is where you can really help out. I’ll try to explain it, and you tell us if it makes sense to you.

Let’s take the example of a $50 book and a $6000 campaign. 120 copies would need to be sold to unglue the book. Let’s suppose the rights holder is willing to give it a “Creative Commons Date” 10 years in the future. The sales campaign starts September 1, 2013, and if no copy is ever sold, The Creative Commons license goes into effect on September 1, 2023. But for every copy sold at $50, the Creative Creative Commons Date advances by 1 month. The CC Date for the first copy sold through unglue.it would be August 1 2023. The 12th copy gets a Creative Commons Date of September 2022. The 60th copy sold gets a creative commons date of September 1, 2018. and so on, until the advance of time meets the Creative Commons date, and the book becomes unglued.

If a campaign has to end short of the target, so be it. But whatever advance of the Creative Commons date has been achieved by the campaign remains in effect.

So each campaign has two core parameters, the revenue target and the initial ungluing date. The per copy price can change based on the book’s sales profile. Different versions could have different prices. Appropriate choices for the campaign parameters should be able to accommodate almost any type of book. Every purchase through unglue.it would cause a measurable, advertised advance of the Creative Commons date. Every purchase would generate immediate income for the rights holder, and immediate availability for the purchaser.

Does this make sense to you? Please let us know.

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Teaching Libraries to Code

python_workshopFor quite a while, I’ve been concerned  that libraries lack sufficient software and internet development resources to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Even things like buying an ebook from Unglue.it can require a library to make small modifications to their catalog or website. So when Andromeda wanted to some spend some of her time cofounding and cochairing the Library Code Year interest group (a joint LITA/ALCTS group ), I was all for it. The interest group ran an Introduction to Python preconference at the ALA Annual meeting this year, with about 40 attendees; and Andromeda was one of the instructors.  The interest group is looking at running a hackathon at either Midwinter or Annual next year; Andromeda’s not in charge of those efforts, but she’s supporting them. Andromeda’s also been a guest lecturer at some library schools, and last week she was a guest instructor at Chattanooga Public Library’s DEV DEV <summer of code>.

The thing is, Andromeda REALLY enjoyed helping librarians and others acquire coding skills, so much so that she’s decided to try making it her full time job. Which is not such good news for unglue.it, because Andromeda has become one of our key developers. Over the past two years she’s become a pretty good python developer to go with the javascript/css skills she started with, and she’s responsible for much of the front end (what you see) of unglue.it. The thing that has made her a star, however, has been her ability to span all the aspects of building, running, publicizing and supporting the site. She’ll still be doing contract development work for us – a good teacher has to keep her skills current – but we’ll have to get along without her constant attention. And her desire to make unglue.it a success hasn’t disappeared.

So if you’re thinking about doing a coding workshop, or sponsoring a course on web development, or even if you need a code-year-coach, consider checking out what Andromeda is doing. I’ve personally learned quite a bit from her, now you’ll be able to as well.

We’re working on Unglue.it 2.0

http://blog.unglue.it/2013/05/23/were-working-on-unglue-it-2-0/

(we distributed two different links- sorry!)

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We’re working on Unglue.it 2.0

It’s been a year since we launched Unglue.it, so it’s appropriate to take a look at what we’ve done, and decide what to do next.

With your help, we’ve unglued three books: Oral Literature in Africa, The Third Awakening, and So You Want to Be a Librarian. With your help, we might unglue two more.

What we haven’t been able to do is attract a lot of books for ungluing. The reasons why are complex, but it’s clear that we need to make changes to the model to attract enough books to make the whole thing worth our effort.

One assumption we made at the start turned out to be wrong. We thought that lots of campaigns would be aimed at funding the conversion of print books to digital. But two years later, the conversion costs have come way down, and most books that can be converted to digital are being converted to digital. The ones remaining have problems- either they have really difficult rights issues or they’re just not worth converting.

Because of that assumption, our campaigns haven’t made use of the most powerful tool that an ebook-crowdfunding campaign can have- the ebook itself. So we’ve been talking to publishers and authors about a new type of campaign, which uses the book itself as the fundraising tool. We’ve been calling this “buy-to-unglue” but we’re not sure that’s the best way to describe it. The basic idea is that after N copies of the book are sold, an unglued edition is released.

So far, the reaction has been really positive, but there are a lot of details to work out. How to make it work for libraries, for example. The buy-to-unglue model will help us address the needs of new books and new authors, and we’re really excited about that.  We think that the existing campaign model will eventually prove its value, too.

We don’t have a timetable yet, and nothing has been set in stone, but we’d really like to hear your ideas.

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De Gruyter title list

If you subscribe to our newsletter, you already know that Berlin-based academic publisher De Gruyter is offering 100 books for potential ungluing.

There aren’t campaigns yet — that’s up to you! We’ll run campaigns for whichever books have the most support. You can tell us which books you support by adding them to your wishlist. (And use the sharing options to get your friends to support your favorite books, too.)

You can see all the De Gruyter books Unglue.it knows about (both these, and any others that ungluers have wishlisted or searched for in the past) at Unglue.it. But for your convenience, we’re also listing the hundred (technically, 104) books here, with links to their Unglue.it work pages.

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