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The Future Of Publishing: Giving Books Away?

The reading room in the New York Public Library - largely occupied by computers. (manyhighways/Flickr)

The reading room in the New York Public Library – largely occupied by computers. (manyhighways/Flickr)

The Kindle, the iPad and e-books are part of a revolution that’s shaking up the publishing industry. And one of the big life-or-death questions is, can publishing remain viable and profitable?

Stona Fitch may not have the answer to that question, but he has a publishing model that is definitely revolutionary: give books away for free.

That’s what he does at the Concord Free Press, in Concord, Mass. He started the press more than five years ago.

He publishes books — books by well-known and established authors, including Wesley Brown, Lucius Shepard and Gregory Maguire — and then gives them away for free.

You can find the free books in bookstores and online. In return, Fitch asks readers to make a donation to their favorite charity. That’s it.

He calls the business model, “generosity-based publishing.”

To date, Concord Free Press has published nine books and raised more than $375,000 dollars for charitable causes.

Guests

Stona Fitch, novelist and founder/editor-in-chief of the Concord Free Press.

Hamilton Fish, editor of “The Rockaways.” On the Concord Free Press advisory board. President of the Public Concern Foundation and publisher of “The Washington Spectator.” He tweets at @hamfish.

More

Oh-I-See.com: Publishing Flip-Flop Swaps Gains for Generosity

  • “The flip-flop format isn’t the most unusual thing here. The price is bound to attract even more attention: it’s free. So is every book printed by the Concord Free Press.”

Metro: After Sandy, Conflict Photographer Turns His Lens On Natural Disaster

  • “When the sun rose the morning after Hurricane Sandy, Peress left his home in Brooklyn and set out for Breezy Point, Queens, to document his first natural disaster. His photos show the Rockaways in a state of raw destruction: charred foundations, power lines dangling in floodwater, entire blocks flattened.”

NPR: A Novel Approach: Free Books For Donations

  • “Fish came around — not because the generosity-based model of publishing represents the future of the book business. But because it is a new approach in an industry that Fish says needs fresh ideas.”

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