Anyone who has attended the Do Lectures knows that some of the best bits happen inbetween the talks. It’s in the pub or over dinner when you fall into conversation with a fellow attendee. Only when they get up on stage the next day do you realise they are in fact one of the speakers.
It’s the people you meet, the conversations you have, the ideas you exchange that are at the heart of Do. And it’s people who are at the heart of Unbound.
Unbound launched in 2011 – a year before Kickstarter came to the UK – as a crowd-funding platform that allows authors to connect directly with their readers. In an industry where ‘disruption’ is the new buzz word, the Unbounders have been shaking things up for a while now.
Two years on and the model is clearly working. Books have been funded and published, recognisable faces like Alys Fowler and comedian Katy Brand are using the platform, and the book spawned by the hugely-popular Letters of Note site exceeded its targets by a long way (we’ll be forever grateful to Shaun Usher for introducing us to this letter from Steve Albini to Nirvana.
When Dan asked if we might be interested in having our own publisher channel within the site, we didn’t need much convincing. We’ve liked and supported the Unbounders from the start – a proper collaboration made sense.
We’re a fledgling publishing house with big ideas but without the luxury of a big investor. Publishing can be an expensive business and margins are tight. Any income goes straight back out to cover overheads or reinvest into the next titles. This is fine but doesn’t leave much room to experiment – and that’s important, isn’t it?
And those people we mentioned at the beginning. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could extend that conversation into some of the books we publish? If we opened up the publishing process and allowed them to have a peek inside? Or speak to the author directly online or at an intimate launch event?
So the plan is to start with some special editions of some forthcoming books. Publishing operates with pretty long lead times so we won’t be able to crowd-fund the trade editions. This week we’re in Nashville presenting titles to our US distributor that aren’t published until May 2014. The sell in starts as soon as we leave. We can’t risk pledge levels not being met and having to pull the plug once bookshops have commited their budgets. So those paperback editions sitting within our branded series of Do Books will continue to be funded by us. But how about a limited edition hardback of David Hieatt’s new book, Do Purpose, hand bound in Hiut denim from his factory in Wales? Or the book proposal submitted last week that doesn’t quite fit the series or is written by someone in our community who hasn’t given a Do Lecture – is there a way to get that in print?
Any book funded through the channel will be steered through the editorial process by our team and carry the Do Book Co. logo. But rather than a short acknowledgements page in the back, it will contain a list of all those Doers and Unbounders who have made the book happen. Who have enabled a particular book or special edition to come to life.
We don’t know where this collaboration will lead. But our instinct is to give it a go. We’re in safe hands and even getting to this stage has been fun.
So do take a look at our channel and the other books on the site; support Unbound – they’re a good bunch; and keep an eye out for future projects. Thanks!