As anyone who’s read Little Brother or Makers knows, Boing Boing co-editor and journalist Cory Doctorow doesn’t suffer from a dearth of ideas. In many ways, he’s an ideal case study for the experimentation needed in the industry: published in multiple genres, large web presence, comfortable with transparency, willing to fail nine times to succeed once. He’s well-known for his stance on DRM and freely distributing his content electronically; this time next year I suspect he’ll be known for several more cage-rattling ideas. (Well, cage-rattling to publishing. I tend to think it’s common sense to most readers.)
Doctorow’s opening salvo for PW, “With a Little Help,” is definitely worth a read. He’s managed to set up an experiment featuring every possible business model, with the possible exception of subscription-based revenue. Still, he’s got: deluxe/limited editions, ad-supported texts, freemium offerings across formats, and print-on-demand. My colleague Pablo put it succinctly: it’s going to light a fire under publisher’s asses. Why? Because Doctorow doesn’t need a traditional publishing company for any part of “With a Little Help.” But he’s generous, providing full financial transparency throughout the process.
Oh, and another bonus for the author: this will surely get his community buzzing, strengthening his relationship with readers and bringing in new ones. (The fact I’m writing about him here proves this to some degree.) Once again he’s done what 95% of authors who want to “be online” fail to do: separate the signal from the noise.