Generosity-Driven Publishing Puts Freeists to Shame

The blogosphere is saturated with conjecture on the effect of books and e-books given away free. But nothing comes close to the business model of Concord Free Press. In truth it’s not a business model at all. If anything it’s an anti-business model. Or perhaps the Los Angeles Times characterized it best: “An unusual Robin Hood-style publishing model.”

What makes Concord Free Press distinctive? It seems the publisher is giving away all 2,000 copies of Wesley Brown’s novel Push Comes to Shove on the condition that recipients “make a voluntary donation to a charity or someone in need…then pass their book along so others can give.”

The company’s website states its case:

It’s simple. We’re not proposing a new business model for publishing. We’re a non-profit organization interested in:

  • expanding the definition of publishing
  • exploring the connection between people and books, and
  • inspiring new levels of engagement among readers.

Like any non-profit, we keep our expenses incredibly low (e.g., our office rent is not exactly Manhattan-esque). Writers, designers, printers, and others generously donate their work and services for free. Our press runs are fairly short—2,000 copies or so—making our books limited editions. And to pay for it all, we ask people who like what we’re doing to support us via grants, checks, and the occasional wad of cash.

In short, we are freed from the burden of profitability. That said, though our books don’t generate traditional profits, they create real value:

  • Writers get a chance to get their work to readers via an interesting new channel, one that can help them sell commercial US rights, foreign rights, film rights, etc.
  • Readers get a great book for free and a chance to be part of an experiment in publishing and community
  • Charities and people in need receive real support from generous readers—who turn their good intentions into cash donations

Though it’s said the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, Concord’s road has led to an inspiring record of humankindness. Its first venture, Give + Take, produced over $40,000 in donations. “Factoring in our start-up costs, that’s an ROI [Return On Investment] of more than 800% – even though others, more in need than us, received that money. The second book, Push Comes to Shove, has generated even more. A sampling of donors, donees and donations is below.

Concord, Massachusetts, the publisher’s home base, should ring a bell: it’s the home of Henry David Thoreau. And if anyone would appreciate Concord Free Press’s concept and purpose it’s the sage of Walden Pond.
Richard Curtis
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From Concord Free Press’s website:

Our readers have already made $44,000+ in donations around the world—tell us where you gave

Push Comes to Shove

Marilyn K. of Minneapolis, MN gave $25 to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey

Kellie J. of New York City gave $175 to WBGO

Deborah P. of West Tisbury, MA gave $400 to a South African elementary school

Esther L. of Brooklyn, NY gave $50 to the Brooklyn Museum

Toby G. of Exeter, NH gave $50 to the NH SPCA

Garry T. of Central Square, NY gave $50 to the North Shore Food Bank

Cheryl T. of New York City gave $50 to the Teachers & Writers Collaborative in memory of Bill Kough

Fern S. of Chatham, NY gave $25 to Think OutWord

Debra J. of Harlem, NYC gave $50 to the Teachers & Writers Collaborative

L. Nevai of Averill Park, NY gave $25 to the Amanda Moon Children’s Theater Scholarship Fund

For a complete listing, click here.

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