Chapter One Field Guides are a new approach to two old and decidedly non-technological pursuits: classic literature and writing stuff down. We've combined some of the best first chapters in all of literary history with a highly portable, retro-style field guide to create a new kind of notebook.
Take notes in a meeting with Mark Twain. Write poetry alongside Jane Austen. Plot out your next Kickstarter project with Mary Shelley. With a Chapter One Field Guide in your purse or pocket, you'll find yourself coming up with reasons to write things down. When the masters say something, they say it really well, so every note you take and every word you write is inspired by a true artist. The benign is transformed in the shadow of genius....or something like that!
Each Field Guide is a pocket-size notebook designed around one classic first chapter in literature, all available in the public domain. There's nothing fancy or particularly technically innovative. It's just the words of a master author, alongside space to write your own. Each field guide has at least 24 pages of lines, grids and blank pages for wherever your creativity takes you, which is likely to be further than you think!
Even though most of us were forced to read these books in high school, it turns out that they’re actually quite good. And even in small doses, the words can be very moving and thought-provoking. Hopefully, something you read in these classic first chapters will cause you to write differently or even think differently. And who knows, maybe you'll decide to read the whole book!
I also need to give a nod to both Moleskine and Field Notes Brand for creating a format that I love, but I thought really needed something...well, classic.
I'm not trying to revolutionize anything...I just want to inspire people one chapter at a time. And with that in mind, I wanted the Field Guides to be flexible, portable, and shareable. I want people to be able to give them as inspiration to their family, or give a bunch to their team at work. So they're intentionally small, easy to carry around, and highly giftable.
Long-term, I’m hoping to have at least 50 Field Guides. Most would be first chapters, but I’d also eventually have categories like Shakespeare or poetry or even religious texts where the whole "chapter one" approach doesn't necessarily work. I also really want this to be a community effort. I’m not going to be able to come up with 50 good ideas, so as the project evolves, I want to lean it into the community of backers to help me decide what comes next. Do you have a favorite classic book in the public domain? I want to make a Field Guide out of it!
But…first things first. Start at chapter one, right?! My launch plan is to print 500 each of 12 different Chapter One Field Guides. Some have been designed and some are in process and I've started thinking about printing, and that's why I came to Kickstarter. I have 10 of the 12 already selected:
1. Huckleberry Finn 2. The Wizard of Oz 3. A Tale of Two Cities 4. Pride & Prejudice 5. Les Miserables 6. Dracula 7. Frankenstein 8. Moby Dick 9. Anna Karenina 10. Alice in Wonderland
Backers of this project will have the opportunity to pick the other two. You’ll all vote on #11, and first highest backer will get to pick #12.
I'm raising money to get the first 6000 (500 each of 12) printed but then also to start laying the foundation for more guides and bigger plans. A few of the guides are designed, and I have a local printer lined up. So the first set of three could be in the mail within weeks of the end of this campaign. And if all goes well, the rest of the initial run of 12 should be finished in 4-5 months.
Risks and challenges
The most challenging part will be planning for production and inventory. The Kickstarter-funded portion is hopefully just the beginning. I want to create a marketplace of 50+ of these guides, and getting all of that up and running quickly while maintaining quality and responsiveness will take real focus and effort. It turns out that printing and distributing a lot of small items is kind of expensive! Building a Kickstarter market is one thing...building inventory is another. But I have a printer who I know well and trust, design resources to help with the creation, and almost 20 years experience working with small businesses and non-profits with tight overhead.
I want to develop a loyal community around these guides, involving backers and customers in book selection, colors, iconography, and other aspects of the creation. The key to building community is communication, and so I'm committed to keeping the C1FG community involved at every step.
Get two each of the first TWELVE Field Guide titles, released in sets of three beginning in April 2013. If the business goes beyond the first twelve titles, you will have the opportunity to select new titles instead of duplicates.
Get the same benefits as the $75 level, PLUS your name or any other 20 characters (within the bounds of decency) printed in a special "Thanks to" section on the inside back cover of one title of your choice, for the initial run of 500.
You are a Benefactor of Awesome! The first backer at this level gets to pick the 12th title in the initial run. You'll also get all the benefits of the $150 level, but you'll get your name or message printed first in each of the initial 12 titles.