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The Call Me Ishmael Phone is a novel way for readers to celebrate and discover great books.
The Call Me Ishmael Phone is a novel way for readers to celebrate and discover great books.
537 backers pledged $23,784 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$23,784

537

Thanks to the generosity of bookish backers and press outlets from around the world, we hit our campaign goal in just over twenty-four hours.

We also hit our stretch goal, which will ultimately allow you and your favorite bookstores/libraries to try out the Call Me Ishmael Phone for free. 

Follow us here for the latest news on this project, and if you would like to share a story about a book you love, leave a message at 774.325.0503.

The opening line of Herman Melville's masterpiece, Moby-Dick, is also the inspiration and namesake of our simple (and award-winning) literary website, CallMeIshmael.com.

Last summer, we created a way for readers around the world to leave voicemail messages about the books they love. Thousands of bibliophiles have called and over a million readers have listened to our library of stories, but until now, we've only been able to share the stories online. 

The Call Me Ishmael Phone is a way to bring Ishmael's entire library to booklovers in search of their next great read. We’ve hacked a replica of a vintage payphone and created a new literary device that gives libraries, independent bookstores, and readers like you an entirely new way to celebrate and discover great books.

Our first BETA test was at Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
Our first BETA test was at Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA

How does the Call Me Ishmael Phone work? Your local librarian or indie bookstore manager acts as a curator and assigns any of Ishmael's stories to their Phone. Curators use a simple web application, their venue's wifi and a printable sign to swap in a new sets of stories once per day. When visiting readers dial a button on the Phone, a beautifully bookish story plays through the Phone's headset. There are infinite ways to use the phone, but here are a few examples we've imagined:

  • Stories from members of your bookstore staff or library
  • Stories about books that take place in your town
  • Stories about books by visiting authors
  • Stories from local students

Curators can also press a mischievous button on the web application that makes the phone ring. If an unsuspecting reader picks up the ringing phone, a random bookish story will automatically play. Here's one of over a thousand stories you might hear on the phone:

We need the help of bibliophiles everywhere to make this project a success. Once the first fleet is launched, we'll be able to quickly scale up production and provide additional Phones to any literary venue that wants one. In fact, if we hit our stretch goal, we'll be able to allow your favorite literary venue to try out a Phone for free.

How can you help?

  • Back this project at any level. (Check out the perks!)
  • Share this story on social media, and be sure to tag your favorite bibliotecas, bookstores and bibliophiles.

Just like the Call Me Ishmael Phone, the rewards for this project are designed to give you a surprising way to experience your next great read.

Risks and challenges

One of the engineers helping us build this Phone, Andy Cavatorta, is fond of reciting this haunting adage: “Hardware eventually fails. Software eventually works.” We’ve worked with world-class developers on every detail of this Phone. You can set it up in a matter of seconds, and it's prepared to withstand the fingers and ears of curious readers around the world. However, your support is crucial in helping us continue to test, refine and iterate future versions of both the Phone and the drag-and-drop web application that powers it. The list of features we want to add is long... but that’s a story for another day.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    PART OF THE STORY
    Your name on the longest hand-typed thank-you note ever. The note will be composed on our signature continuous paper. If we're successfully funded, we'll publish a video about it at the end of the campaign and send you a link.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    TEXT FROM ISHMAEL
    Ishmael will text you a personalized book recommendation and add your name to the world's longest hand-typed thank you note.

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    67 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    LIQUID & LITERATURE
    Start your day the way Melville started his masterpiece. In addition to this coffee mug, you'll be included on the world's longest hand-typed thank you note.

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    45 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    YOUR NEXT GREAT READ
    We'll mail you one of the hundreds of books featured in Ishmael's video library. Inside the book you'll find a personalized reading list written out on a napkin (see campaign video), and a surprise or two. We'll also include your name on the world's longest hand-typed thank you note.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    TYPEWRITER T-SHIRT
    A Call Me Ishmael t-shirt inspired by the instruction manual of our trusty Royal Deluxe typewriter. You'll also be included on the world's longest hand-typed thank you note.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    FIRST ACCESS TO THE SECOND FLEET OF PHONES
    (PLUS A BOOK, MUG, OR T-SHIRT)

    We want our backers to be the first people to experience these phones.

    This perk gets you a book, a mug or a t-shirt, and it also puts you (or a literary venue that you name) at the front of the line for the option to rent or buy Phones #11, #12, #13, and so on. We'll fulfill this perk in the order received.

    For clarity:
    Due to the dynamics of purchasing parts in bulk, media streaming costs and a few other variables, we can't name an exact price point for a CMI Phone at this time. However, our carefully calculated projections put the full package (phone, batteries, stand and service) at $600-$1000 to own, or $50-$60/month to rent.

    Our campaign goal is to create & distribute the first ten Phones (aka "The First Fleet"). If that happens, we'll be in a position to quickly create many more Phones (aka "The Second Fleet") in early or mid 2016. If you back us at this level, you'll have access to those Phones first, you'll be included on the world's longest hand-typed thank you note, and we'll send you a book, mug or t-shirt!

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    COMBO PACK
    We'll send you a book, mug and a t-shirt (see descriptions above). We'll also include your name in the world's longest hand-typed thank you note.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    CHAPTER CRITIQUE
    Literary agent Lucy Carson (Friedrich Agency), will read and critique a chapter of the book you're writing.

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    Reward no longer available 3 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A STORY
    (PLUS A BOOK, MUG OR T-SHIRT)
    Steph and/or Logan (your pick!) will hop on Facetime and read you a children's story.

    ...or...

    Steph and Logan will transcribe your voicemail about a book, make a video and share it with you in a special YouTube playlist that will feature stories from backers. We'll mail you the transcript, fresh out of our vintage Royal Deluxe typewriter and your choice of a book, mug or t-shirt.

    Either option will land your name on the the world's longest hand-typed thank you note.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    FULL MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE
    Literary agent Lucy Carson (Friedrich Agency), will read and critique the full manuscript of the book you're writing.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    PART OF THE CREW - OWN A PHONE FROM THE FIRST FLEET
    (PHONES #2, 3, 4...9, 10)
    Your venue will receive one of the first Call Me Ishmael Phones in early 2016. This package will include one Phone, two rechargeable batteries, one Phone stand and free shipping (~$1,000 value). We'll also transcribe and share a total of five bookish stories for you and your staff.

    We hope to launch the first fleet of Phones with style. If you join us at this level, you'll be featured regularly as we develop more Phones, and we'll forever think of you and your venue as part of the CMI crew. You'll also be featured towards the top of the world's longest hand-typed thank you note.

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    Reward no longer available 9 backers
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    FIRST MATE - OWN THE FIRST PHONE

    Our hero! We will ship you the very first Call Me Ishmael Phone. The package will include two long-lasting batteries and a stand for your Phone. We'll also transcribe and share ten bookish stories for you and your team.

    As First Mate, you'll be the most prominently referenced venue as this story continues to unfold.

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Funding period

- (30 days)