On Techdirt, Mike Masnick calls attention to a Kickstarter project by self-publishing author Aaron Pogue, in which Pogue seeks to raise $30,000 to release the third book in his self-published trilogy into the public domain. (He’s already dedicated the first two to the public domain, though apparently hasn’t made them available legally for free download.) It’s part of a project called The Consortium, which aims to be a modern-day patronage system, allowing fans to pay authors a salary in return for those authors putting their works into the public domain.
The Kickstarter has only raised $4,135 in pledges from 67 backers, and only has 14 days left in which to earn the remaining $26,000—if nothing else, a reminder that Kickstarter is not the magic bullet its success stories make it out to be. Perhaps this would work better if it were a well-known author doing it rather than a self-publisher—but then, so many thing would work better for well-known authors, who have the cachet of their names to bring to the table, including self-publishing itself. (Similar crowdfunding-rights-grants startup Unglue.It has the same problem.) And it probably doesn’t help that it’s the third book in a series and there’s apparently no way to read the first two for free even if they are now in the public domain.
Still, it’s an interesting thing to try. And one thing the Consortium has going for it is that it wants to put its authors’ works completely into the public domain—not reserving any rights under Creative Commons the way Unglue.It does. It leaves me with the same impression as a lot of the more outlandish experiments in alternative publishing I see from time to time: I doubt it will ever work, but it’s good that people are trying new things anyway because the more we try what doesn’t work, the more we learn about what does.