In the last couple of weeks I’ve read of two novel approaches to publishing books.

If you are a fan of Cory Doctorow (!/doctorow) then you’ll probably be aware of his long history of challenging traditional publishing models. Back in 2003, he startled the publishing world by releasing his novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom under a Creative Commons license. Since then all of his books and short stories have been published in the same way, while at the same time releasing them traditionally – and still managing to sell significant quantities.

Now he’s brought out a new short story collection With a Little Help and in doing so has taken a new approach. Rather signing a deal with one of the big publishers he’s published under his own imprint.

He offers several versions:

  • A CD audio book with celebrity readings,
  • A print-on-demand paperback (via with a choice of covers by Frank Wu, Rudy Rucker, Pablo Defendini  and Rick Leider.
  • * A super-limited hand-sewn hard cover that comes with truly unique “endpapers” donated by other authors (including Neil Gaiman and William Gibson) with an SD card containing the full text of the book and the audio-book.
  • DRM-free ebooks and audio versions in every conceivable format, under Creative Commons and on a “name-your-price” basis, and
  • A fifth option: a one-time only, $10,000 chance to commission a new story for the collection.

If you were thinking of that then too late – it is gone. But you can check how the project is going: see Cory’s website for details.

That brings me on to the other model to challenge the publishing norm: The Domino Project. “What happens when a publisher has a tight, direct connection with readers, is able to produce intellectual property that spreads, and can do both quickly and at low cost? A new kind of publishing, the brainchild of Seth Godin, and powered by Amazon.”

This radical new model is untried but looks like it might succeed.

  • “Virality first. An idea that requires a direct sale won’t thrive in a world where the most powerful ideas spread from hand to hand. Create content that works best when spread, and then package it so it’s easy to spread.”

Their first title was Seth Godin’s “Poke The Box” an inspiring,  short read which I found to be a little repetitive could have been titled ‘Just Do It: if you have an idea don’t wait for permission to start”.

Pre-order customers got it for $1. I was a couple of days late and paid £3.12 for the Kindle Edition. I don’t know if the price will go up further – but the model is ‘spread the word about new titles using social media, jump on fast and get the titles at rock-bottom prices. Wait and you’ll pay a little more’. You can subscribe for email alerts or DMs on Twitter.


Books – more than one way to skin a cat
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