I would like to see a Bandcamp for Books. I'm not saying someone should try and build something that competes with Amazon. That would be really hard. It's also not the point I'm making. I suppose I would like to see a DIY/e-punk alternative to what exists now. It's not exactly a little library, because ownership is involved (in contrast to anonymous lending/borrowing), but I think the idea is of a similar ethos.

Here's what that might look like:

  • An author signs up for BookCamp, they create an author page and upload a work to it.
  • They can set the price of their work - free (up to N downloads), paid, PWYC, whatever.
  • They decide the format they want their book to be available in (epub, mobi, html, plain text, web-only)
  • They hit "publish".

Then as a reader, I go to my favourite author's new BookCamp site and:

  • See they have a new book out
  • I buy the book
  • The author covers the data costs (deducted from the sale) and gets 95~% of the sale.

Amazon KDP hands out royalties of 70% and 35% to authors, depending on different scenarios. Not great. With BookCamp, the fees for "delivery" could be similarly taken out of the author-set price for the book. Then, beyond covering the payment processor (stripe, or whatever), I imagine that 5% (or 10% if necessary) could go toward site operations. That leaves a healthy 90% for the author. I would love to see 90% of my money go toward an author's book, rather than 70% (it's even worse with physical books, but that's not the topic here) (fn).

ASAP - As Socialist as Possible

Without necessarily becoming a library, I think this would be an interesting candidate for a technical project where all costs are documented and fees are only charged to cover maintenance costs and a modest salary of whomever is doing said maintenance. Think of it as a weird take on open sourcing your accounting, for a lack of better words.

For example, If I was to build this BookCamp, I would clock all the time and money it took me to build it, release it, and (we are being hypothetical here) when people buy books, the fees through the platform pay down the time put into building it. Once the stocked fees are paid down, the fees go toward a salary for whomever is maintaining it.

I am keen to know if any other technical systems have been built, released, or are sustained this way.