Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent partnership between Kickstarter and bookshop.org! As the Director of Publishing and Comics Outreach for Kickstarter, what can you tell us about this new partnership, and how it is endeavoring to support Kickstarter-born literary projects?
Oriana Leckert: Thank you!! I’m a huge fan of Bookshop and the tremendous work they do to support independent bookstores, so I’m overjoyed about this initiative. On Kickstarter Bookshop storefront, we’ve curated lists of 170+ literary works—from books to comic books to kids’ books to cookbooks—that were originally funded on Kickstarter and are now available for sale through the traditional publishing trade. This storefront functions as an affiliate page, and Kickstarter donates all commissions we receive to NYC Books Through Bars, an all-volunteer collective that sends free books to incarcerated people across the country.
BD: What was the inspiration behind this initiative, and how did these two organizations find one another?
OL: We started talking about this initiative at the end of last year, when Kickstarter Publishing crossed a major milestone of $200m raised by projects in the category. Around that time we also put together a massive roundup of 117 Publishing Projects Showing What’s Possible on Kickstarter, which got me thinking about how many books born here go on to the trade, continuing to bring joy to readers (and revenue to writers) for years. So the idea was to use the partnership to celebrate the long lives that books begun on our platform can go on to lead, to bring renewed attention to Kickstarted books, to raise awareness of Bookshop (not that they need the help!), and to send some money to the wonderful folks at NYC Books Through Bars.
BD: There are quite a few lists that feature these Kickstarter-initiated projects. Which lists currently feature the projects, and how are the projects found/determined to be included in this
OL: Putting these lists together actually turned out to be a lot of work. There have been some 18,000 Kickstarter Publishing projects, plus another 11,000 in Comics, and there’s not many elegant ways to sort those based on what happened post-campaign. There’s not even a great way to narrow down which are campaigns to make specific books and not, say, literary museums or podcasts or comic book stores. So I did a lot of sorting and resorting, then a lot of googling and searching through Goodreads, to find as many wonderful examples as I could. But the lists are intended to be a perpetual work in progress—I plan to add to them regularly, and there’s also a form for folks to submit a book for inclusion.
BD: If customers purchase books from the provided lists, how are the proceeds divided amongst the creators and other organizations?
OL: That’s a great question, but I don’t think I’m qualified to speak to the entirety of Bookshop’s business model. Their terms are public, though: the company gives away 75% of their profit margin to stores, publications, and authors, and through the affiliate program, 10% of each sale goes to the affiliate (or, in our case, is passed along to NYC Books Through Bars), and that 10% is matched by Bookshop and sent to independent bookstores. Authors and publishers can set up their own affiliate programs, by the way! And I’d encourage anyone interested to do so.
BD: How can Kickstarter creators get involved with this endeavor, and what are a few ways that community members can truly make a difference?
OL: Well, I definitely think anyone who cares about the future of books, bookstores, and the publishing industry as a whole should switch their online book-buying to Bookshop from… that other big online bookseller, whom I’d prefer not to name. The ramifications of that other company’s awful, predatory business practices obviously go far beyond the book trade, so any amount of divesting yourself and your money from them is, to my mind, a positive step. As for getting involved with my specific initiative, if you’ve written or know of a book not on our lists that was funded on Kickstarter and is now available for sale and distribution through the trade, please let me know by filling out this form, and I’ll do my best to add it in.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about Kickstarter and bookshop.org?
OL: I’ll share Bookshop’s about page once more -- and I really encourage everyone to use it for their book-buying and -selling needs, as much as is reasonable. (For IRL buying, of course, please keep supporting your local book and comic shops directly!!) As for Kickstarter, I’ll mention that the categories I manage are doing extremely well at the moment: I’ll reiterate that Publishing crossed $200 million pledged late last year, and 2020 was Comics’ best year ever by a lot. So, come on in, the water’s fine! Back a few campaigns, witness the incredible literary creativity on display here every day, and start figuring out what campaign you’ll run someday. I can’t wait to cheer you on!