June 17, 2009

Concord Free Press

I ordered a free book yesterday. Concord Free Press (based in Concord, Mass) are currently shipping out copies of "Push Comes To Shove" by Wesley Brown for free to anyone, anywhere in the world. All they ask in return is that you make a "voluntary donation to a charity or someone in need" and that, when you've finished the book, you pass it on to someone else who might be interested so that the process can repeat.

It's a fantastic idea. The 2000 copies of Brown's book are almost guaranteed to go, and get passed on, generating much more interest and many more readers than most novels can muster, plus some Good Causes get some money. The cover looks great (as does the site) so now I just have to hope the contents are excellent as well. The whole thing seems rather marvellous - it's like getting a present.

My only slight bugbear, is the quote on their site from the Independent on Sunday who, in an article on novelist and Free Press founder Stona Fitch, said that it is a "project that could revolutionize the publishing industry."

I love this idea but I'm struggling to understand how it can transform the publishing industry because I'm struggling to see how the books and the postage get paid for. I understand it's not-for-profit and that the people involved give their time for free, but print runs of 2,000 books still cost, as does postage, especially to countries on the other side of the world. Maybe I'm just being a spoilsport. I am looking forward to getting my book and making my donation and taking part in something different, anyway. As Fitch puts it, "publishing books is not hard, it's making money from publishing that's really hard. We're blessedly relieved of the burden of profitability."

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