New Crowdfunding Site, Unglue.It, Releases Books Stuck in Publishing Limbo

When Ruth Finnegan pub­lished Oral Lit­er­a­ture in Africa in 1970, she was award­ed an Order of the British Empire for her exhaus­tive and pio­neer­ing research on the his­to­ry of sto­ry­telling in Africa. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the book was so expen­sive that it was large­ly out of reach for African read­ers.

Now it’s out of print, but the book and many of the audio record­ings Finnegan made in her research will soon be avail­able through, a kick­starter-style cam­paign to release out-of-print books. raised $7,578 from 259 supporters—mostly in the library world—to make the book avail­able “on any device, in any for­mat, for­ev­er.” The mon­ey will help off­set the costs of pro­duc­ing the e‑book and a dig­i­tal archive of record­ings and pho­tographs tak­en dur­ing Finnegan’s field­work. In addi­tion to the ebook, the pub­lish­er, Open Book Pub­lish­ers, will pro­duce free, down­load­able pdf edi­tions of the work. has three oth­er titles in fundrais­ing mode:  Love Like Gum­bo by Nan­cy Rawles, a set of young read­er books and the auto­bi­og­ra­phy 6–321 by Michael Laser. Using the kick­starter-style mod­el, is try­ing to raise an agreed-upon fair licens­ing fee to release the books under Cre­ative Com­mons licens­ing, com­plete­ly lib­er­at­ed from dig­i­tal rights man­age­ment tech­nol­o­gy.

Books are cho­sen by the crowd too. At the moment A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tops the wish list.

Kate Rix is an Oak­land-based free­lance writer. Check out her work at .

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