Now anyone can be an author. Launched recently, MightyWords.com is a Web site where authors can sell their works -- of any length -- alongside the works of traditional publishers.
The books, pamphlets, and other written material on MightyWords.com can be purchased for varying prices and downloaded as Adobe PDF files called eMatter. The eMatter concept was developed by Fatbrain, a bookstore that has branched into digital publishing.
Authors publishing on MightyWords.com set their own selling price and receive 50% of the revenues as royalties. The site recommends minimum list prices, based on file size, starting at $US2 and going up to $US20 or more for each book.
All eMatter is encrypted, and buyers receive licence keys to unlock and read documents. If a document is passed along to someone who hasn't paid for it, they are cordially invited to pay the fee to read the document, and they're offered more information about eMatter.
Right now, eMatter is compatible only with Windows. Support for Linux, Mac, and Unix systems is in development.
The concept behind this Web site certainly transcends traditional publishing, bringing it to a new electronic reality. In practical use, however, it makes clear the fact that we will never do away with traditional book publishing and hard copy books. After all, many of the authors who have uploaded their works to this site are not editors, so the eMatter arrives with typos and poor grammar intact. Also, you have to read the PDF files on-screen, unless you're really into printing out huge quantities of paper to read away from your PC.
To launch the site, MightyWords assembled a group of authors and other well-known figures to write a series of essays on the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. Called American Perspectives, this selection of writings includes work by Pete Hamill, Jonathan Kellerman, Caroline Kennedy, Peter Jennings, Peggy Noonan, and others. It is available as a free downloadable and printable eMatter document.
And for those with their own thoughts about what the Bill of Rights means to individuals in today's world, MightyWords is announcing the American Perspectives Writing Competition. Entries will be judged by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Richard Goodwin, Jonathan Kellerman, and others. Two grand prizes of $US15,000 will be awarded, with winners announced on July 4.
MightyWords.com is really a perfect example of putting to work the Internet's interactive features. It brings together well-known, published authors with writer-wannabes.
But the site itself is still in its infancy. MightyWords.com doesn't yet have a lot of eMatter on display. Under the "health" section, for example, were only nine titles. But given time, this site is sure to sprout interesting wares just ripe for downloading.