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.
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.