408
9 min 39 sec

Architect Changes Commuting, One Pocket-Sized Book at a Time

A Chicago-based architect makes access to classical literature easier for readers, raising $50,000 on Kickstarter along the way.
Books Crowdfunding Product Unique Ideas

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What It's About

Inspiration strikes on a public bus, where an architect gets an idea to mobilize classic books.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Research & Resourcefulness
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

When you're making or marketing a product or service—no matter how practical it may be—you should always be asking yourself "how is this going to connect with people on a deeper level?"

In this case, what’s the emotional need that David pinpointed in pursuing this project, and in particular by choosing the crowdfunding model to start it? Personally, I think it’s a combination of nostalgia and rebellion.

Fun Fact

Mouse Book Club relies on books that are within the public domain. David usually finds the next installment on Project Gutenberg, which digitizes cultural works so more people can access them.

The name Gutenberg comes from Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. We can thank Johannes for starting the Printing Revolution and bringing books to the masses.

Notes from Chris

Episode 408
As a professional architect and journalist, David Dewane has always believed in the unique power of the written word. Then, as a lifelong fan of books, it’s little surprise that his passion for literature became his side hustle.

David spends his work days thinking about how to build ideas and bring them to life in design. But like many good ideas, the inspiration for David’s side hustle came out of nowhere. Or more specifically, it came from a bus ride. His snowy, slow bus commute in south-side Chicago was the one place he could zone out during the day, at least for a few minutes. It was (and still is) a route he takes at least 5 days a week, and this trip was not unlike the rest of them. What was different, though, was that David noticed that everyone on the bus was looking down at their phone, except him.

He was holding a pocket-sized book in his hand, with dog-eared corners and worn out pages from regular reading. He had taken his phone out of his pocket to check a text from a friend when he noticed that his phone and book were pretty much the same size. They were both easy to travel with. And furthermore, they both held worlds of possibility.

The more David thought about it, the more he realized that everyone holding a phone was reading. And if they were already reading while commuting, or waiting in line at the grocery store, then it wouldn’t be hard to read something else if it were within easy reach. He looked around the bus again. Everyone had their eyes glued to their phone. If people had a real book in their pocket, something that gave them a richer and more engaging experience than scrolling through Instagram, David wondered if they be more likely to pick that up instead of their phone.

After printing a limited run of 100 copies for his friends for Christmas, he found the validation he was looking for and thought about how he could get his pocket-sized books in the hands of others. That’s when he turned to crowdfunding; he took the leap and launched Mouse Book Club's first Kickstarter campaign. It was a huge success and raised his first $50,000 of capital from over 1,000 backers. David used $20,000 to print and ship the first run of Mouse Books.


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Mouse Book Club: Turn a new page yourself and head on over to David's website!

  • Kickstarter: The crowdfunding platform that David used to fund Mouse Book Club
  • Drip: The Kickstarter extension that allows backers to support creators through recurring, monthly donations
  • Project Gutenberg: The volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks"
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"This January I sent out about 800 copies of Fredrick Douglass' autobiography. I cannot imagine a more important book people could be reading right this second. I feel like I am doing something truly worthwhile."
—David Dewane #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau