ATG Article of the Week: Start-Up Hopes to Create Free Digital Versions of Published Books

by | Jun 25, 2012 | 0 comments

Start-Up Hopes to Create Free Digital Versions of Published Books

This is a fascinating article by Angela Chen in the Chronicle of Higher Education that sheds light on a new publishing start-up called Unglue-it.  Inspired by sites like Kickstarter, Unglue.it acts a funding platform for out of print books.  It asks “users to pledge money toward “ungluing” … previously published works” and then turns around and compensates “the rights-holder in exchange for them releasing something with Creative Commons.”

Ms. Chen uses the example of the 1970 work Oral Literature in Africa by Ruth Finnegan, anthropologist and professor at England’s Open University.  It is one of five titles that Unglue.it is currently campaigning to raise funds for.  “If the campaign is successful, Oral Literature will be available as a free, legal e-book, downloadable from anywhere in the world.”  This will enable Ms. Finnegan, who owns the rights to her work, to fulfill a personal dream.  “This is the work of my life, and I feel like I was born for this—to have this book on open access and downloadable, free, for the first time for scholars in Africa.”  And in this instance, Ms. Finnegan will work with Open Book Publishers to produce her book in print to ensure even wide distribution.

This strikes us as great example of how creative thinking and collaboration among interested parties can help forge new publishing models.   We would love to hear about similar efforts that you think are stretching the boundaries of publishing in this age of technological innovation and open access.

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