Frequently Asked Questions
- Help! My question isn't covered in the FAQs!
- Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to make sure everything on the site runs as smoothly as possible. Thanks for helping us do that.
How It Works
- What is Unglue.it?
- Unglue.it is a a place for individuals and institutions to join together to give their favorite ebooks to the world. We work with authors, publishers, or other rights holders to decide on fair compensation for releasing a free, legal edition of their already-published books, under Creative Commons licensing. Then everyone pledges toward that sum. When the threshold is reached (and not before), we collect the pledged funds and we pay the rights holders. They issue an unglued digital edition; you're free to read and share it, with everyone, on the device of your choice, worldwide.
- What is Crowdfunding?
- Crowdfunding is collectively pooling contributions (or pledges) to support some cause. Using the internet to coordinate means that complete strangers can work together, drawn by a common cause. This also means the number of supporters can be vast, so individual contributions can be as large or as small as people are comfortable with, and still add up to enough to do something amazing.
Want to see some examples? The Buy India a Library project (cofounded by an Unglue.it team member) crowdfunded donations -- mostly small ones, around $20 -- to build a school library in India. Kickstarter lets artists and inventors solicit funds to make their projects a reality. For instance, webcomic artist Rich Burlew sought $57,750 to reprint his comics in paper form -- and raised close to a million.
In other words, crowdfunding is working together to support something you love. By pooling resources, big and small, from all over the world, we can make huge things happen.
- What does it cost?
- Unglue.it is free to join. Most of the things you can do here -- discovering books, adding them them to your wishlist, commenting, sharing -- are free too. If you choose to support a campaign, you may pledge whatever amount you're comfortable with. Your credit card will only be charged if the campaign reaches its goal price.
If you hold the electronic rights to a book, starting campaigns is free, too. You only pay Unglue.it if your campaign succeeds. For the basics on campaigns, see the FAQ on Campaigns; for more details, see the FAQ for Rights Holders.
- Who can use Unglue.it?
- Anyone! We're located in the United States, but we welcome participants from all over the world.
To fund a campaign, you'll need a valid credit card. To start a campaign, you'll need to establish yourself with us as a rights holder, including demonstrating that you have the rights to the content you want to unglue. See the FAQs for Rights Holders for more.
- Why should I fund a book at Unglue.it when I can just buy it somewhere else?
- When you buy a book, you get a copy for yourself. When you unglue it, you give a copy to yourself and everyone on earth.
- What do I get when I unglue a book?
- You get a better ebook. Your unglued ebook has no DRM: you can put it on any device you want, in any format you want. You can legally copy it and share it with your friends. You can read it on the network or off, with no one tracking your reading.
You may get premiums, depending on the amount you pledge. Each campaign has its own set.
And you get the satisfaction of helping readers and libraries everywhere: giving a book to everyone on earth.
- Does Unglue.it own the copyright of unglued books?
- No. When you unglue a book, the copyright stays with its current owner. Unglue.it does not buy copyrights. A Creative Commons license is a licensing agreement. As with other licensing agreements, it grants certain rights to others but does not affect the status of the copyright.
Just like many traditional publishing transactions, ungluing is about licensing rights. We use Creative Commons licenses to make ebooks available to the world while respecting and protecting copyright.
If you are a copyright holder, you retain your copyright when you unglue a book. Creative Commons licenses are non-exclusive, so you also retain the right to enter into separate licensing agreements. You can read more about these licenses at the Creative Commons FAQ.
- If I'm a rights holder and I unglue my book, does that mean I can never make money from it again?
- No! You are free to enter into additional licensing agreements for other, non-unglued, editions of the work, including translation and film rights. You may continue to sell both print and ebook editions. You may use your unglued books as free samples to market your other works -- for instance, later works in the same series. You can use them to attract fans who may be interested in your speaking engagements, merchandise, or other materials. You absolutely may continue to profit from ungluing books -- and we hope you do!
For some examples of how authors and publishers have made free ebooks work for their business plans, see Cory Doctorow's columns for Publisher's Weekly, David Kazzie's Jackpot, and the Baen Free Library. If unglued books are working for you, we'd love to hear your story. Tell us at email@example.com.
- Why do authors, publishers, and other rights holders want to unglue their books?
Lots of reasons:
To publicize their other books, gain new fans, or otherwise increase the value of an author's brand.
To get income from books that are no longer in print.
To have a digital strategy that pays for itself, even if they don't have expertise in producing ebooks.
To advance a cause, add to the public conversation, or increase human knowledge.
To leave a legacy that enriches everyone, now and in the future.
- Does Unglue.it publish books? Can I self-publish here?
- No. Unglue.it dedicated to licensing works to the public commons, not publishing them or owning rights. We work for books that have been published in other ways. We are not a publisher ourselves.
- What's a rights holder? How can I tell if I'm one?
- A rights holder is the person (or entity) that holds the legal right to copy, distribute, or sell a book in some way. There may be one entity with all the rights to a work, or the rights may be split up among different entities: for example, one who publishes the print edition in the United States, another who publishes the print edition in the EU, another who holds electronic rights, et cetera. For ungluing purposes, the rights holder is the entity who has uncontested worldwide commercial rights to a work.
If you have written a book and not signed any contracts about it, you hold all the rights. If you have signed a contract with a publisher to produce, distribute, publish, or sell your work in a particular format or a particular territory, whether or not you still hold rights depends on the language of that contract. We encourage you to check your contracts. It may be in your interest to explore launching an Unglue.it campaign jointly with your publisher.
If you haven't written a book but you have had business or family relationships with someone who has, it's possible that you are a rights holder (for instance, you may have inherited rights from the author's estate, or your company may have acquired them during a merger). Again, this all depends on the specific language of your contracts. We encourage you to read them closely. Unglue.it cannot provide legal advice.
If you believe you are a rights holder and would like to discuss ungluing your works, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- I know a book that should be unglued.
- Great! Find it in our database (using the search box above) and add it to your wishlist, so we know it should be on our list, too. And encourage your friends to add it to their wishlists. The more wishlists a book is on, the more appealing it is for authors and publishers to launch an ungluing campaign. You can also contact us at email@example.com.
- I know a book that should be unglued, and I own the commercial rights.
- Fabulous! Please refer to the FAQ for Rights Holders and then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's talk.
- Is there a widget that can be put on my own site to share my favorite books or campaigns?
- Yes! Every book page has an "Embed" option. Click that and copy/paste the HTML code wherever you like.
- What is Open Access versus Creative Commons versus public domain?
- Eric Hellman has written a series of articles about how Open Access can apply to ebooks. The first is on his blog.