5 new kinds of publisher emerging on the web

The Unbound team
The Unbounders: Justin Pollard (standing) John Mitchinson and Dan Kieran (photo by Rachel Poulton)
This is a guest post by Dan Kieran, co-founder and CEO of Unbound.co.uk.

A few months ago we were invited to speak at a Futurebook conference organised by the Bookseller. The event was split into two parts. The first half included speakers from traditional publishers sharing their ideas of how publishing could and should change, and the second was billed as talks by people from outside the established publishing world. Therein lies the problem traditional publishers face. The number of ‘outsiders’ are growing, intent on their own kind of change.

1. Pottermore

Unbound was built on the assumption that authors and readers want a more direct connection without traditional publishing/retail gatekeepers operating in between. A few weeks after we went live J.K. Rowling launched Pottermore, proving blockbuster authors have already grasped the concept, but what about non-global author-brands or new authors? That’s where Unbound comes in.

2. Unbound

On our site authors pitch their book ideas and if enough readers want to support the book it goes ahead. Prices range from £10 to £250 for everything from a digital copy to lunch with the author themselves. All supporters get their name listed in the subsequent book and access to the author’s shed while they write it. Last year the average price paid for a book fell below £5 for the first time. The average price spent on Unbound is currently £31, which proves people are prepared to pay more for literary content if you offer them something unique that goes far beyond a simple, and often cheaply made, book. Our first two titles (Evil Machines by Terry Jones and Crushed Mexican Spiders by Tibor Fischer) have now been successfully funded and we’re launching our first ‘unknown’ author in the next few weeks.

3. Byliner

Publishing company/social network, Byliner has recruited some of the literary world’s greatest names. Publishing short stories, digital editions, audio and print on demand books, archived articles and their own special editions (costing from $0.99) Byliner is also built on the assumption that authors and readers should be connected directly.

4. Redlemona.de

While Unbound crowd-funds new books, Richard Nash’s redlemona.de crowd sources the content, funding, publicity and promotion of all their works. It’s community driven to discover and promote new work amongst its members and beyond. Nash’s criticism of traditional publishers and their attempts to change is pinned on the Unbound office wall: ‘Any major publisher that has launched a disruptive, digital subsidiary, has launched it under house arrest. They have not built anything to destroy their own business.’

5. Spot.us

A non-profit community driven crowd-funding site for new journalism. Articles are funded by the community and then syndicated to mainstream news organisations. Journalism is one of the most exciting areas for crowd-funding. Giving journalists a new way to fund long term investigations that are free from editorial/political constraints imposed by large corporate media giants could usher in a new golden age of investigative journalism. With the current outcry surrounding the practices of some of the UK’s mainstream newspapers, sites like spot.us are emerging at exactly the right time.


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  1. Does this mean raw copy would go to e-print without the benefit of an editor?  If so, authors would soon have more egg on their face than Humpty Dumpty. 

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