Non-Commercial Companies

April 2, 2006

From a NYTimes article:

    There is another breed of rival lurking online for traditional media, and it is perhaps the most vexing yet: call it purpose-driven media…

    These are new-media ventures that leave the competition scratching their heads because they don’t really aim to compete in the first place; their creators are merely taking advantage of the economics of the online medium to do something that they feel good about. They would certainly like to cover their costs and maybe make a buck or two, but really, they’re not in it for the money. By purely commercial measures, they are illogical.

And then it goes on to talk about Craigslist and a few others.

This is totally where I see myself and my little game publishing imprint, One Thousand One. I don’t have to follow traditional publishing models because I’m not doing the same thing at all. I’m not especially interested in having my games available in retail stores. I’m not going to get a booth at GenCon and hawk my wares (I’d rather be out playing games and meeting people!) And, most importantly, I don’t invest more money in projects than I can stand to lose.

I’ve already (stupidly) spent a bunch of money on artwork for Argonauts (which may or may not ever see the light of day) and Vesperteen, but doing that made me happy at the time and it’s not money I have to make back. And going with a print-on-demand service like Lulu means that I don’t have to invest $1000 in a print run and then work hard to sell it. People can always buy books, if they want them, and I can spent $50-100 to buy copies to take to conventions or other meet-ups and sell to people I meet.

Of course, Push is going to be the first book to test out this publishing model and it’s a little different, since it’s a collaborative project with several main contributors, so I’m dealing with other people’s time investment instead of just my own. I’m still not entirely sure how we’re going to handle it if, say, Emily decides she wants to sell copies of Push along with Breaking the Ice or Eero wants to sell Push in Finland along with his Finnish-language translations of My Life with Master and Dust Devils.

Obviously, the person doing the hawking should get a bigger cut from the sale than the other contributors, but the other contributors should get something too. We’ll see. Maybe we’ll set up a way for contributors to buy copies of the book at several dollars above cost and several dollars below sale price, so everybody gets their share. Or maybe everyone will agree to donate their time to Push for a batch of 10-15 contributor copies and we’ll sell the journal at near-cost.

I’m a non-commercial company who’s first product is semi-commercial! Alas! Alack!

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