The Sunday Salon: Preserving SF History with Kickstarter

This past week, Kickstarter has been on my radar. (Kickstarter, if you don’t know, is a crowd funding website—it allows projects to seek funding from the public, instead of seeking traditional investors.) Kickstarter has been used to fund some high-profile literary projects—reprinting The Order of the Stick, saving a film adaptation of Blue Like Jazz, and backing a short film adaptation of a Neil Gaiman story. But today I want to highlight two recent (one of them ongoing) Kickstarter projects focused on preserving speculative fiction history.

Singularity & Co. is a Brooklyn-based initiative to preserve out-of-print science fiction books. Every month, one book will be selected, its copyright holders tracked down and asked for permission, and, ideally, published digitally. Attitudes towards speculative fiction, as readers of this blog well know, can range from indulgent to hostile, and I would hate to let that attitude let important or just plain wild texts fall by the wayside as publishing slowly navigates the digital divide. I do wonder what their definition of sci-fi is, however, when we get to texts that don’t neatly fall in one category or another… In any case, we’ll have to wait and see. The project is no longer live on Kickstarter, but, if you’re interested, you can become a subscriber on their website, or just keep tabs to see what book Singularity & Co. will rescue first!

The Locus SF Foundation Photos & Ephemera Digitization Project is pretty much what it sounds like. Charles N. Brown founded Locus Magazine in 1968, and was involved in speculative fiction throughout his life. Upon his death in 2009, his vast collection of photos and ephemera was willed to the Locus SF Foundation. The collection covers the last sixty years of speculative fiction publishing, covering (but not limited to!) such greats as Isaac Asimov and Ursula K. Le Guin. The project aimed to preserve this collection, as well as digitize the collection. I say “aimed” because it’s already reached its funding goal! But there’s still more work to be done—what’s not spent on preserving and digitizing Brown’s legacy will be used to digitize their author interviews (currently only housed on microtape!) and then cataloging their collection of sf books. It’s good work; check it out.

It’s been a working week, what can I say? My life isn’t terribly exciting, although my summer’s coming together now. This week I finished Imaginary Girls and started Out of the Silent Planet. My birthday is on Monday, so I’m quite looking forward to that. I’ve also entered the Independent Book Blogger Awards; voting opens on Tuesday, so feel free to swing by and vote for me then if you are so inclined.

The folks at Bastard Books are giving away a copy of Chrysanthe until Saturday. Kristen at Fantasy Cafe is giving away a copy of Dragon Sword and Wind Child until the 16th. The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) Small Beer Press offers several of their books as free downloads, including Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners. If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!

What do you make of these Kickstarter campaigns?

2 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Preserving SF History with Kickstarter

  1. I think digital publishing is inevitable. I’m not sure what percentage of new books are released in digital format but publishers seems to be slowly working their way through existing catalogues.

    As for out of print books, digital publishing is the perfect opportunity for this. Re-priting older books can be expensive for little return. Perhaps selling these as ebooks will help these authors who no longer get an income from hard copies of their books to earn a little extra cash. This is not a bad thing.

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