Free ebooks? Unglue.it, and a crowdfunding idea.

Here’s a creative idea, while the world wonders about viable ebook pricing models. From Mashable — “Unglue.it Wants to Make a Creative Commons for E-books

“Through a crowdfunding platform inspired by Kickstarter and the public radio model, Unglue.it is hosting campaigns to turn individual, already-published books into Creative Commonslicensed e-books. This means that you could legally read and share e-books for free with anyone across the globe.

… The cost of a Creative Commons license varies with every book: “A Creative Commons license could cost nothing if the author wants to give it away,” Hellman said. “A Harry Potter novel would be nine figures. Unglue.it has a $1,000 rights minimum, but we’re expecting an average campaign to close around $10,000.”

It’s not cheap. But I do think it’s a laudable goal. At the very least, it’s a fascinating social experiment: will enough people pay for a book that will then be available, DRM-free, for everyone else in the world? From the Unglue.it website:

What if you could give a book to everyone on earth? Get an ebook and read it on any device, in any format, forever? Give an ebook to your library, for them to share? Own DRM-free ebooks, legally? Read free ebooks, and know their creators had been fairly paid?

At Unglue.it, you can pledge toward creating ebooks that will be legally free, worldwide. These books have already been traditionally published, but they’re stuck: legal restrictions keep you from being able to enjoy and share them.

Unglue.it gets them unstuck. Authors and publishers decide what amount lets them freely share their books with the world while still making a living. We raise that fee here through crowdfunding: people like you chipping in. When campaigns succeed, the rights holders get paid, and they issue a free electronic edition under a Creative Commons license.”

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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

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