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.

6 comments on “We’re working on Unglue.it 2.0

  1. I think this is a great idea! In fact, when I explain the idea of “ungluing” to friends, I often start by saying, “Look, if you would spend $10 on a book, why wouldn’t you spend $10 to make a book free for everyone?” I’m still not sure that authors and publishers will go for it, but it may be a stronger pitch to ungluers like myself.

  2. Hi Eric,

    buy-to-unglue is a great concept, which I think is much more likely to generate revenue than merely asking for donations. And it does not require a refund scheme, like the refund mechanism I mentioned to you at the crowdfunding conference. Fund I/O (http://www.fund-io.com) does of course have the advantage that customers could set both the price of the book and how much they want to donate towards making the book free, which further increases the incentives to buy. But I like the simplicity of buy-to-unglue.

    Do sales made through the publishers’ existing distribution channels count towards the number of sales required for ungluing? That would be fantastic!

  3. […] utilise le marquage de Booxtream, et j’ai évalué cette technologie moi-même pour un projet  Unglue.it. Jusqu’ici, je suis […]

  4. Rather than “buy-to-unglue,” I suggest calling it “fundcrowding.”

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