Unglue.it first launched a few months ago with the goal of collecting donations to put toward “ungluing” copyrighted books—that is, buying the right to release them as e-books with permissive CC licenses. The site had one immediate success, which it recently made good on releasing. However, most of its other campaigns barely got off the ground, and more recently Amazon ceased processing its payments due to concerns over the way Unglue.it’s campaigns were structured.
Per the email, Unglue.it’s new campaigns include:
■ Budding Reader Book Set 1: Cat And Rat (Ten Books) by Melinda Thompson with Melissa Ferrell, https://unglue.it/work/82055/, a set of books designed to help children learn to read. [This book is available for $9.99 for Kindle on Amazon.]
■ Love Like Gumbo by Nancy Rawles, https://unglue.it/work/493/, a National Book Award winning coming-of-age story which was one of the first popular novels to tackle this subject from the perspective of a lesbian of color. [This is not available as an e-book on Amazon or B&N, but 23 paper copies are available for $0.01 + $3.99 shipping, including two $3.99 Amazon Prime-eligible copies. Barnes & Noble has some too.]
■ Obama Search Words by Stephen Black, https://unglue.it/work/88498/, a collection of facts, stories and photos about the President. [This book is available for $5.99 for Kindle on Amazon, or free as an Amazon Prime Kindle Lending Library checkout.]
■ So You Want to be a Librarian by Lauren Pressley, https://unglue.it/work/76348/, a book aimed at students who wonder if a library career is right for them. [This book is available for $9.99 for Kindle on Amazon.]
■ The Third Awakening by Dennis Weiser, https://unglue.it/work/113782/, a macabre, eco-friendly, erotic sci-fi fantasy satire about corporate culture and the superior beings who come to save Earth from itself and human beings from their dark side. [Not on Amazon, but $4.99 on Smashwords and free for Nook on Barnes & Noble right now.]
At least two of those titles, Love Like Gumbo and Cat and Rat, already had Unglue.it campaigns before the payment processing crunch.
Unglue.it’s one success was Oral Literature in Africa, which was not available in e-book form at all, and could only be found used in costly print editions. (The Amazon page for it still shows its print availability starting at $25 and going up from there—though it has a Kindle edition available for $1.99, from the same publisher who prepared the free Unglued version.)
Most of the above books, on the other hand, are available cheaply (or even free) from popular online e-bookstores, meaning that instead of kicking in some money and hoping and praying that a lot of other people do too, they could just pay the same amount of money and get a copy they can read now. As I’ve said before, I suspect that many people are moved more by utility than philanthropy. If they want to read it now and it’s available cheaply, they’ll pay to read it now, and not bother to donate to “free” it afterward because they’ve already read it.
That being the case, out of the set of books listed above, I would have expected Love Like Gumbo to be the most attractive due to its lack of an e-book edition, and when I check on it I notice it has, indeed, already raised $527, which is 7% of its $7,500 goal. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that book turn into Unglue.it’s second success story, if it can keep that momentum up. So You Want to Be a Librarian has gotten $344 in pledges, but it needs more funding ($9,000) and has a month less time to make it in, so I’m not too sure that one will make it—but there’s at least a chance.
On the other hand, Obama Search Words has only gotten $5 in pledges on a $2,012 goal; The Third Awakening $26 out of $1,000, and Cat and Rat $45 out of $25,000. (Someone’s certainly an optimistic goal setter!)
But still, it’s nice to see a wider selection of books this time than the previous array of mostly self-published titles few people had ever heard of. The more different types of books Unglue.it tries, the more likely it is to hit upon ones that will work. As pessimistic as I’ve been about the chances of many of the books it’s tried, I’d still rather see its campaigns succeed than fail. Here’s hoping the site can show the world that there is a demand for permissively-licensed e-book reissues.
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