It’s been a little while since we’ve had any interesting news to share about Unglue.it, the online service provider that uses a crowdfunding method to obtain the copyrights of certain e-books, which are then made freely available to anyone—or any institution, for that matter, including libraries—interested in downloading a copy.
(Unglue.it users participate by donating a financial amount of their choosing to a particular title being offered by the Unglue.it platform; if the minimum funding amount is achieved, the publisher releases the book under Creative Commons license CC-BY-NC-ND.)
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Here at TeleRead, we’ve long been big fans of the Unglue.it idea. Although as we’ve mentioned in the past, in actual practice the service hasn’t exactly had an overwhelming amount of success in its efforts to “unglue” a particularly large number of books.
As for those titles the service has unglued, many of them are so obscure that the respective copyright freeing processes don’t seem to have generated much overall excitement.
But here’s something we are excited about: Starting this past Tuesday, April 2, the academic publisher De Gruyter began offering 100 titles from its e-dition series at Unglue.it. Each individual title that raises $2,100 dollars at the site will be made available worldwide as open access content.
Those individual fundraising goals of just $2,100, by the way, will probably play a significant role in this particular campaign’s success. Why? Basically, because various copyright acquisition fees have proven to be major roadblocks that the Unglue.it team has bumped up against, over and over, in the past.
Take a look a their three active campaigns, for instance: A Nancy Boulicault book, Radio Franglais, needs to raise $5,000 before it can be Unglued. So far, it’s raised a paltry $410. Sara Roncaglia’s much better-known Feeding the City needs $7,500 before it’ll become available; it’s so far raised $1,367—just 18 percent of the necessary total.
If I had to guess, I’d say that any number of potential Ungluers took one look at those $5,000 and $7,500 totals and decided not to donate anything—because what’s the point of donating to a campaign, after all, if its chances of success are close to nil? But $2,100 is a different story altogether—it at least seems within the realm of possibility. I’ll be surprised if at least a few of De Gruyter’s 100 titles don’t find their way to Creative Commons status sometime soon.
“The demand for open access books at De Gruyter has been increasing continuously,” said De Gruyter CEO Sven Fund. “This has motivated us to offer select e-dition titles at Unglue.it and see if users are willing to help increase the number of open access works available.”
De Gruyter will be offering books from 1958 to 2003 through the Unglue.it platform that currently can no longer be ordered. Both English and German books from a wide range of subject areas will be offered.
“We’re really excited and honored to be working with De Gruyter,” said Eric Hellman, the president of Gluejar Inc., which owns and operated Unglue.it. “Their broad commitment to both open occess and to high quality publishing really distinguishes them from their competitors.”