Crowdfunding is a technique commonly utilized by software designers and programmers to amass enough financial support to create a new application or tool. However, in its most essential form, crowdfunding combines the spirit of collaborative innovation with the economic muscle to produce tangible results, and therefore can be applied to other industries and pursuits with extremely positive results.
Literature, which has been slowly adapting to the reality of digital platforms via technology such as eReaders, also benefits from crowdfunding. Editions du Public, a French publisher, has opened its doors to submissions that will be published based on contributions received from so-called ‘co-editors.’ These co-editors must contribute the equivalent of 18 Canadian dollars each to the book that they most want to see published. In exchange, they are allowed to comment on the text, and the author is obliged to consider their recommendations. Each text is hosted on Editions du Public’s website and can be browsed by interested parties. Already, several texts have attracted more donations than others.
Although the idea of crowdfunding for literature may seem somewhat gauche for those who believe that art should not be shaped so heavily by the bottom line, the venture is beneficial both to authors and editors who are passionate about a particular type of literature. As books transform into digital texts, the role of traditional publishing houses must also adapt. By allowing the ‘reading’ public to vote with their dollars on the type of material they want to read via crowdfunding, the industry remains viable. Authors, meanwhile, remain closely engaged with their audience.
Because no one individual carries the full burden of financial responsibility, crowdfunding is a much more fiscally sound method of launching new projects. Other creative industries which are currently attempting to redefine their portfolios in light of changing tastes would do well to mimic Editions du Public’s experiment. Nothing speaks more highly of a text than when strangers are willing to pay money to publish the material.
Christopher Smith, CEO of opin.ca, provider of enterprise content management systems
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