Ages ago, Brooke and Tim and I batted around the idea of a Free (as in beer) Open Source Old Testament/New Testament Textbook, and it strikes me — as iBooks Author and Kickstarter and perhaps the new tool from Sourcefabric (any inside details for us, Suw?) — make the whole project more readily plausible, that it might be time to revisit the notion.
When I thought of a revival blog-post, I suspected that I might have not sketched out all details two years ago, but as I reread the post, it looks to me as though it’s all there.
- Agreed terminology/glossary
- Organised by chapter, with minimal dependence on specific sequence
- Commissions for individual chapters to make the v. 1.0 textbook (how much would you reckon would motivate scholarly participants?)
- Open to (non-commissioned) substitute chapters from whomever
- Serious grant/Kickstarter funding for editor to clean up format, mark-up, copyedit, and so on
- Output as PDF, ePub, mobi, HTML, ibooks, maybe other formats
- Free to download, pay for printed copies (and pay for any ibooks version, of course; maybe we can add animations to justify putting it into the Apple iBookstore)
- CC licensed, Attribution/Non-Commercial
- Kickstarter/grant rewards including acknowledgement panel identifying the generous support of donor — ‘The Song of Songs, brought to you by Robert Nesbitt’
- Extensible to include related textbooks — interpretive methods, church history, theology, and so on. At a certain point, the enterprise would roll over to encompass academic publishing in general
Since 2010, Kickstarter has demonstrated its efficacy as a locus for crowdsourcing funding, the tools for ePub authoring are improving, ebooks are more visible as a viable means of publishing, there’s more pressure upon students’ finances, and no one else has done it yet.
My top recommendation would be for an interested theological-education foundation (say, Pew or FTE or the Barclay Trust or some other such entity) to support and organise such a thing. In many foundations’ budgets, even a generously-funded project would be a drop in the budgetary bucket. Or we could whip together an editorial team and a budget, and throw it onto Kickstarter. However you slice it, though, the signs of the time are only more auspicious for the FOSOTNTT vision.
[Later: I should add that, as I just looked back at my email inbox I realised that what probably triggered this notion was a message from Micah calling my attention to Unglue.it, a different but related sort of endeavour. It looks good within its designated scope (producing CC-licensed digital editions of previously published works), alleviating the problems of curation/selection and of rewarding rights-holders, but I’m intent on a project along the lines I sketch above. Thanks for the pointer, though, Micah!]