Open Innovation and Publishing's New Chapter

Published Sep-04-13

A crowdsourcing business model tears up the pages of the publishing industry and replaces them with a brand new chapter that allows readers to choose the books that get published.

Unbound Publishing, United Kingdom

The Story:

Open Innovation and Publishing's New Chapter Open innovation is helping to change the landscape within numerous industries, from medicine to mechanical engineering, aviation to agriculture. It’s also causing some ripples in the publishing world.

Unbound is a digital platform that gives readers the power of publishing by choosing which books get written.

How it Works

The site works in a similar to crowdsourcing platforms such as Kickstarter. An author publishes an extract of the book they hope to write along with a video pitch. Members of the public pledge financial support if they are suitably impressed. Once the target amount has been reached the author can get to work.

If there are insufficient funds a donor can opt for a refund or pledge the money to another author.

Unbound has also organized live events (Unbound Live) where authors have pitched to audience members from a stage.

There are several levels of support and each comes with their own rewards: from having your name printed at the back of the book to a lunch appointment with the author.

The average amount of money being pledged per person is around £30 (approx.USD $46), considerably more than the price of most books.

As soon as someone pledges financial support they are given access to an author’s private area on Unbound where they receive updates about the book’s progress, author interviews and more.

Reenergizing the Book Industry

The platform is the brainchild of three authors who have all written successful books. However, they have also experienced frustrations with book publishers who turned down their ideas because they were deemed ‘too intelligent’ for the market.

Publishing is littered with lots of stories of authors who have tried and failed to get stimulating and innovative works out there. Their proposals were turned down by companies wanting to sign up the next airport blockbuster or celebrity biography.

One of Unbound’s co-founders, John Mitchinson believes this crowd approach to publishing can re-energize the industry.

In an interview with the UK’s ‘Evening Standard’ newspaper he said:

“Publishing is too full of bad karma. Rejection letter, slush piles, advances that don't earn out, the threat of digital piracy.

“Readers are the real energy source for the industry, and it's endlessly renewable. All you need are good ideas. And the best way to have new ideas is to have lots of them.”

Challenging Ideas

Unbound is attracting first-time authors and well-known literary types. Among the famous names to have pitched for financial support for their work are former Monty Python star Terry Jones, bestselling author Kate Mosse and the actor Robert Llewellyn.

The site aims to shift the focus from books that might sell to those that will sell to an audience that has already declared an interest. Mitchinson and his co-founders believe there is a genuine appetite out there for more diverse reading material and that Unbound can satisfy it by helping authors secure funding for challenging and interesting ideas.

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