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« Our fixation on containers | Main | Stretching a brand from print to digital »

December 30, 2013



Setting aside the ethical issues of crowd sourcing, as Ken Dunn clearly has, I don't believe that this is a sustainable model for publishing.
Firstly: Cover designs will be chosen by an author's preference, without the perspective and market insight a good editor and book marketing team can provide. Their experience with the publishing marketplace is invaluable.
Secondly: As cover design becomes harshly Darwinian, the initial winners will be those who are willing use other people's efforts for their own gain. Eventually, artists won't be able to continue working for little or nothing and will move on to other jobs.
Leaving fewer cover designers, who could drive up the price of cover design.
Thirdly: we should not set aside the ethical issues of crowd sourcing. Creators should be paid for their work, designers as well as authors.

Ken Dunn

There are certain parts of your comment that I agree with, like the fact that some people will be forced to move onto other things. Unfortunately, I am only predicting the future based on what has happened in the past. Some would say that "the greatest predictor of the future is the past". Look what happened in the automotive sector: In the 40-50's the entire manufacturing process was manual and required people. By the year 2000, 70% of that process is robotic requiring 70% less workers. Where did those workers go? Elsewhere, obviously.

Further, I cannot agree that it is just a passing fad. That is exactly what people said about Twitter and Facebook. 99designs transparently says on its website that they have paid out over 65 million in commissions to designers, which could mean that the revenues of the company are over 100 million already. The company is growing every month. Clearly designers like it!

I think that a casualty in this process will be the big traditional design houses. If one is in that space, you better start innovating or suffer "The Borders Phenomenon". Yes, there will be casualties. Those are the people I referred to at the end of my article. If you are not innovating you are dying.

Finally, I am not sure about the ethical issues in crowd sourcing. The creator is still getting paid, the author is still getting paid. Crowd sourcing seems to allow more participation in creating, although I am not in that business and, admittedly, do not understand it completely.

This is a phenomenon that theorists like Seth Godin have been predicting way back to his initial thoughts that lead to 'Tribes' & 'Linch-Pin'. You may want to check out Seth's blog: I am sure it will insight further debate.

Thanks for the feedback.

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