My latest Publishers Weekly
column, "Heuristics," documents the success I've had with a pay-what-you-like donation model for my With a Little Help
DIY short story collection, and looks at how it might be applied to other books:
But it's the success of the donations program that has me thinking hardest--specifically, about the value proposition of the donations. Could donations form the basis of a new retail channel for e-books? Perhaps a widget that commercially published authors could embed in their own Web sites and social media pages based around this pitch: "Buy my e-book on a pay-what-you-like basis, and I'll split the take 50-50 with my publisher, still a much better take than I'd get from your e-book purchases on Amazon, Nook, or iBooks."
With A Little Help: Heuristics
Why not? Commercial entertainment conglomerates understand that "pay creators, it's the right thing to do" is a better pitch than "pay multinational entertainment conglomerates, they deserve your money." This is why so many antipiracy ads focus on creators, not on corporate profits. Authors who collect directly from readers have a commercially valuable moral high ground, and figuring out how to incorporate the special relationship between creators and their audiences into a business model has the potential to rebalance the current relationship with the existing online retail channels.
It's not unprecedented--pay-what-you-like programs like the Humble Indie Bundle (video games) and Radiohead's In Rainbows and Nine Inch Nail's Ghosts I-IV (music) have been runaway successes. The pitch from these projects, "pay the creator you love," is a message that clearly resonates with my readers, some of whom have donated as much as $200. And this can help with the "pig-in-a-poke" problem. Without locked-in channels or DRM-laden works, authors and publishers can put together new titles in a single package to cross-promote their works--new writers could be bundled with established ones, for example. The Humble Indie Bundle has been very successful with this strategy. Readers could even nominate some of their payment for charity--say PEN, a library friends organization, a literacy trust, Creative Commons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or ACLU.
This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it’s plugged into. It’s made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs. Note that this […]
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
The Pocket Tripod PRO had massive Kickstarter success in 2013, raising almost $85,000 in a single month. But this isn’t just another case of pre-release product hype. This ingenious little device folds out from a credit-card-shaped plastic slab into a sturdy stand with a surprisingly wide range of motion. In portrait orientation, your phone slides […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]