I got a great email the other day from Hugh McGuire. Hugh is the founder of LibriVox - one of my favorite online plays. LibriVox takes books that are available in the public domain and makes them available as free audio books - available in Podcast and downloadable audio formats. The magic in the idea comes entirely from the community. The community not only chooses the titles, but they also self-organize, choose chapters and create the audio content. On any given audio book, you'll hear a multitude of voices, cultures and people from all over the world.
This week's email was to announce that LibriVox has just catalogued its one thousandth title (consider this a Blog posting standing ovation for the LibriVox community).
"Two years later, LibriVox has become the most prolific audiobook publisher in the world - we are now putting out 60-70 books a month, we have a catalog of 1,000 works, which represents a little over 6 months of 'continuous' audio; we have some 1,500 volunteers who have contributed audio to the project; and a catalog that includes Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Einstein's 'Relativity: The Special and General Theory... We have recordings in 21 languages, and about half of our recordings are solo efforts by one reader, while the other half are collaborations among many readers."
Librivox is a shining blueprint for Marketers. Hugh gets people to do things for free (happily). OK, that's a bit dramatic... this is actually Crowdsourcing at its finest - driven by (and for) the community. All Marketers grapple with how to get their consumers to "do stuff." To buy from them. To connect to one another. To create content. To give them information. How do you make Consumers do stuff for you for free? Pretty simple: engage them - allow them connect, and ensure the reason has value - not just to themselves, but to the greater community.
It may sound like LibriVox has a moral highroad over Marketers. I don't think so. I look at LibriVox and see no reason why any number of book publisher could not run with this idea or - for that matter - even a company like Air Canada. The challenge will be for Marketers to become an equal participant in the community.
I have hopes that we're on our way.
You can also check out Hugh's other fascinating project: DataLibre.