Independent New York based publishers Brooklyn Arts Press have just published their first 'pay as you want' book The Word Kingdom in the Word Kingdom, an anthology of poems by Noah Eli Gordon. The difference to the much publicised 'Radiohead' model, is that this is not pay as you want for a physical download but for a physical book. Th publishers ask for a fixed shipping fee of $5 and then in theory people can choose to pay what they feel this book is worth. So far the average paid is around $10 with some people being more generous in perhaps a more philanthropic act to support the poet and this small publication house who have already covered their costs.
Is this a flash in the pan, with it's success based on the novelty factor, or will independent publishers work on a more kick-starter model in the future where the public decide what is actually worth spending their money on?
As artists across the board struggle against the expectation of free distribution of their works, endemic in music and now rife in publishing, this shift towards public valuation is intriguing. However, this model is only sustainable if it remains small scale, directly supporting artists or independents, when as consumer and supporters we are sure that our money is directly subsidising the artists we value.