One of the most interesting new developments in economics is the growth of microfinancing. Instead of begging bankers for capital, people with great ideas (...or who think they have great ideas ...) can go directly to ordinary people like you and me, and solicit contributions to be paid back in one form or another if the financing is complete. Kickstarter.com is a leader in the field and among its thousands of projects is raising the capital to finance reprints of one of the best in contemporary literature. Most of what follows is taken from that capital drive:
"Rich Burlew has been making the stick figure fantasy-comedy comic strip The Order of the Stick since 2003. Since then, it has grown into one of the most read webcomics in the competitive stick figure fantasy-comedy genre. He began publishing it in book form in 2005, and would like to continue to do so. Maybe you could help?
What's In It For Me?Good question. Just like with public-radio pledge drives, there are rewards for different pledge amounts. These aren't tote bags or sweatshirts; they're the actual creative work that your pledge supports. But that's only part of the story.
If you're not familiar with Kickstarter or how it will work, here's a brief overview (or you can read the official one, here). For the next 30 days, you'll be able to make pledges to help support this project, ranging from $1 to whatever you can afford without your spouse/parent/financial advisor slapping you. For your pledge, you can select one of the reward packages—listed to the right—of equal or lesser value to your pledge. You can always pledge more than the minimum to get a reward if you want (and for some packages, you'll need to do so if it must be shipped internationally). Your credit card or other account will not actually be charged at the time you make your pledge, and you can change your mind right up to the final deadline.
If the final deadline comes and we've reached our goal, then everyone gets charged the amount they pledged at once and we get to work printing and mailing books and magnets and whatnot. But if for some reason we don't meet our goal, then the whole thing is called off. No one gets charged, no fees are applied, everyone just keeps their money. So there's no risk of putting up money and then the reprint project never getting off the ground."
Now, the Order of the Stick is entertainment that probably won't change the world, but we all need entertainment ... and this stuff is just about completely free of corporatized hackery - it's owned by the artist. You can like it or ignore it! Its financing model is exciting because it is completely scalable - you can try it for your own projects with zero risk except for your own time. Ponder where this might lead, or where you might go with it!