Who would Gutenberg Google?
Find our video update below this letter!
Some of you curious about our new campaign to go digital have asked for the story behind it, so gather 'round the screen and we'll tell you the tale!
'Twas a dark and stormy night in 1450 when Johannes Gutenberg took
inspiration from the wine presses of the Rhine Valley (yes, maybe that
kind of inspiration, too) to invent the printing press and, with it, the
book as we know it. What Gutenberg did not know was that his invention
would be credited with nothing less than inaugurating what we
traditionally call the modern era. It was the possibility to circulate
ideas beyond the strict boundaries of the oral tradition and the painful
work of Amanuensis monks that spurred the Renaissance, the Reformation,
and the scientific revolution, to name just a few.
Not coincidentally, it was the ghost of Gutenberg (every story needs a
ghost) who heralded the beginning of a new era in the history of the
printed word. In 1971 Project Gutenberg created the first digital
library and made thousands of books available in the public domain. Time
would pass before this and similar resources could become available to
an ever-increasing number of book-hungry Internauts (think that in 1990
the World Wide Web had only 250,000 users!), but once the breach was
opened, an avalanche followed. The introduction of e-readers (Kindle,
Nook, Kobo, iPad... you name it) gave digital books the same portability
and, in a way, “feel” of the good old printed book. This made the
transformation irresistible. To sum up, times have quite changed.
Circulation of ideas is still the engine of history; but ideas now tend
to travel in bits and chips, and revolutions are spurred by tweets,
posts, and yes, “likes.”
Now here's where we step into the story. When New Village Press was born,
in 2005, digital books were still the province of an exclusive circle
of techies and the usual cool guys. Cut to one month ago as Amazon
announces that e-book sales have surpassed paperback sales by 5 percent.
Scary. And as a publisher out to inspire social change, we cannot
afford to lose the growing market (made especially of younger readers)
that requires instant, unrestricted access to information.
Let us be clear: we love printed books. We hold secret parties whenever a
shipment arrives fresh off the press, and like modern bacchantes we get
inebriated with the bittersweet aroma of fresh ink (okay, maybe it’s
the champagne). We will never forgo this. However, we decided that
creating a digital catalog is the right thing to do. And not just to be
in vogue: we have several reasons to dive into the digital age.
The most immediate considerations have to do with, well, money. If you
are not lucky enough to work in publishing, you might not realize how
much of our meager profit gets eaten by shipping, reshipping, and
warehousing costs. Not to mention returns, book damages, and whole cases
torn open in transit (yes, it happens). Digital books would free us
from these unproductive expenses and allow us to concentrate on what we
do best—producing high-quality books that uplift our world and that
people love to read, in whatever form.
Significantly, too, building our digital catalog will allow us to be
infinitely easier on the environment. The production of the printed book
is extremely carbon-heavy in itself. And even more eco-ugly is the need
for transport, compounded by skyrocketing fuel prices and the already mentioned problem of
returns (bookstores place bulk orders and return the unsold copies,
which makes for a lot of waste and unnecessary mileage). This might have
been a necessary evil as long as there were no alternatives. But now
things have changed.
All these considerations persuaded us to embark on the process of
converting print files to e-pubs. Like any new endeavor, however, this
one comes with a bit of price tag. Which is why we
launched this fundraising campaign
and are aiming to raise $10,000 by June 24 (yes, that’s in less than two weeks!).
The final suspense in this story, is that we will only get funded if we
reach our financial goal before 4 PM on June 24. So for a happy dénouement to this tale, please donate! And for those dear friends who have already made a pledge, Who can you share this webpage with who would also like to contribute?
Have you ever heard the African proverb that says “If you want to go
quickly go alone, if you want to go far go together”? We want to go far,
and invite you to be our travelling companions.
In peace, play, and publishing,
Stefania, Lynne, Jennifer, Lolly, and Pepper
seconds to go
Pledge $10 or moreYou selected
A digital copy of our first e-book—"By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives."
Pledge $25 or moreYou selected
Vegetarian Edible Artmaker, Amrta, is touring ecovillages around the world with My EcoVillage TV and will send you, monthly for six months, one free recipe with a picture for digital download from the book he’s creating, "Recipes from the Road: Dishes from the Mobile EcoVillage."
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
A digital copy of our second e-book, "Arts for Change," plus a beautiful print copy of the four-color book, "Building Commons and Community," by Karl Linn.
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
Digital copies of our first two e-books—"By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives" and "Arts for Change" (as soon as they are ready), plus a custom-sewn (surprise) bookmark made by our editorial director, Stefania DePetris. As a bonus, we're adding a print copy of the book "Performing Communities"—you have to have something to put the bookmark in!
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
Print copies of three lovely, hardcover, four-color books: "Awakening Creativity" by Lily Yeh, "Building Commons and Community" by Karl Linn, and "Works of Heart: Building Village Through the Arts."
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
Five New Village Press printed books of your choice, plus digital copies of our first two e-books—"By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives" and "Arts for Change" (as soon as they are ready).
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
Twenty-four copies of the printed four-color book, "Building Commons and Community" by Karl Linn, will be donated in your name to the library system of your choice. AND copies of our first four digital books will be sent to you as soon as they are ready. PLUS YOU'LL GET OUR FIRST BOOK APP (this bonus is contingent on us reaching 200% of our campaign goal)!
Pledge $1,500 or moreYou selected
Lunch (we'll cook one or more of the new recipes from the Mobile EcoVillage!) with New Village director, Lynne Elizabeth, and two New Village Press authors at the Press offices in Oakland, California, plus a copy of each new print title from New Village Press for the next 12 months and copies of our first four digital books.
Pledge $2,000 or moreYou selected
Sixteen copies of the color book "Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation" AND fourteen copies of the color book "Awakening Creativity" will be donated in your name to a school district of your choice. PLUS we'll sing at your wedding! . . . Oh, right, we're a publisher. Okay, skip the singing—we'll send you a copy of everything new we publish in 2011. Mazel Tov!
- (30 days)