In the fall of 2020, supporters of the independent press came together to help Popula and eight other publishers launch The Brick House Cooperative, with a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding of more than $90,000. Our project was covered at the New York Times, Business Insider, Bloomberg, the Columbia Journalism Review, and many other outlets.
As promised, over the last year we produced high-quality, ad-free, reader-supported global independent journalism, through a sustainable new business model free from corporate influence. Together, we published more than a thousand pieces: essays, criticism, comics, podcasts, stories, investigative news reports, articles, features, memoir and reviews from all over the world.
Now we’re showing how publishers can take the lead in protecting speech rights, press freedom and the digital commons.
Defending Libraries from Corporate Attack
A book is a book, whether you read it on paper or pixels.
In August, our collective helped protect the future of media in ways conventional publishers can’t… just by selling a book to a library.
It’s the wonderful book pictured above: The Brick House Apparent Quarterly, Vol. I! A beautiful compilation of some of our favorite work; a wild literary feast featuring the mysteries of faith, furniture shopping, grief, Taiwan’s precarious role in global supply chains, edgelords, artificial intelligence, a Nigerian train, Miami crime reporting, Washington sleaze, the shortcomings of Joan Didion, Wọlé Ṣóyínká’s art addiction, and where to buy Elvish waybread.
A richly appealing book, yes, but how does it protect libraries, and the future of media?
Megapublishers have been engaging in increasingly predatory pricing for digital books, and in recent years they’ve begun to attack libraries. They’ve sued the Internet Archive, in an attempt to destroy its Open Library; they’ve sued to block legislation that would guarantee libraries fair pricing for digital books.
Corporate publishers want books to become like movies on Netflix: products that you pay to rent, but can never really own. Evidently they want books to be a service you have to keep paying for, forever.
That model threatens the very existence of libraries, because books that aren’t owned are books that can disappear; ebooks are books, and libraries must be free to own them.
But as a journalist-owned cooperative, the Brick House is not a conventional publisher; we’re working for sustainability and excellence first, and profits second. As artists and authors, we are eager to see our own work digitally preserved in libraries, safe from censorship or deletion. We trust libraries to thwart piracy using long-available rights management tools. We realized that as truly independent publishers, we could demonstrate how ebooks should be sold to libraries: permanently.
And so we sold one digital book to the Internet Archive’s Open Library last fall. It will never expire; this digital copy belongs to the library forever, just like a print book would. The price was $32, the same price as we’re offering on the Kickstarter.
This book is a symbol of what it means to us at the Brick House, and Popula, to be an ethical publisher!
We’re proud to be working in symbiosis with libraries to preserve digital culture.
Please join us and Buy This Book!