Pay What You Want for These Indie Titles

If you're looking to buy some art books but don't have the $70 to shell out at Phaidon, look no further. Indie publisher Last Gasp is offering a Humble Underground Book Bundle, a downloadable collection of e-books, for the price of whatever-the-hell-you-want.

Humble Bundle, a forum that also hawks games and apps on a pay-what-you-want basis, fuels the offer. Buyers can donate the proceeds from their bundle to the publisher, but they also have the option to donate to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an organization that defends First Amendment rights in comic books, and to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which protects civil liberties in the digital medium.

Last Gasp Books is "is one of the largest and oldest publishers and purveyors of underground books and comics in the world," whose roster includes R. Crumb, Mark Ryden, and Winston Smith. The titles offered in the Humble Bundle are a celebration of the publisher's underground ethos, including Mitch O'Connell's Mitch O'Connell: The World's Best Artist, Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art edited by Kirsten Anderson, and Diane di Prima's Revolutionary Letters. Customers who pay the average price will also receive five additional titles; and those who pay $15 or more will receive seven additional titles.

The pay-what-you-want model has been used in other markets: Radiohead, for example, released their 2007 album In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-want deal. While critics were kind of confused, customers were liberated: for the first time, the public were able to place value on the art they consumed. The "Pay What is Fair" model was a reflection of our free-information age, which applied especially to the rapidly-evolving (read: deteriorating) record industry. And now that books, too, are evolving into a digital medium, the pay-as-you-go method could become a normalized practice.

Last Gasp Books' Humble Bundle just might be heralding a new age for the publishing industry.

Image: Tanel Teemusk/flickr