"New" e-book model not that new
The buzz yesterday in the lit blogosphere concerned Faber's announcement that it would launch a "pay-what-you-want" e-book of historian Ben Wilson's What Price Liberty? It grabbed headlines partially because it borrows the model from Radiohead, which released In Rainbows a couple of years back with a similar payment plan. The e-book will be available six weeks before the paper version is in stores in April.
Of course, it's an interesting approach, but it's not exactly new. Or, it's not new at all. As I reported last year, Jason Pettus's Chicago Center for Literature and Photography has created an entire publishing imprint based on a pay-what-you-want system. Not to take anything away from Faber, of course, for exploring its options, but I felt it was worth giving credit where it's due and, since it's Small Press Month, pointing out that the little guys tend to come up with the ideas first.