My name is Pierre Lapointe and I am one of the founders of Sharing-Books.com. Although I am a businessman, I am a creative type just like our book creators. I invent business models and Sharing-Books.com is the most exciting one I have participated in by far. Here is our story:
Once upon a time…
Actually in early 2007, our friend Andrea Azevedo shared with us a brief children's book, called The Little Suitcase, written as a eulogy for a young friend, Dylan Oser, who had passed away due to a rare disease. My wife, Bonnie, asked me to help Andrea get the story published as Andrea wanted the proceeds to go to Sunny Hill Health Centre.
To a technophile like me, traditional publishing was not an option. It is expensive and the margins are paper thin. It had to be on the web. As I researched how to get the maximum visibility for Andrea’s book, I found out that there were a lot of children's book creators hoping to be published. Many books had been lovingly crafted but had been abandoned because publishers rejected them.
I also learned that most children's book creators are purpose driven people. They want to share their creation first and money and fame are secondary motivators. In fact most related to the idea that Andrea wanted to give away all her profits. They felt the same way about causes they believe in. This revelation helped advance our thinking. What if we could provide a web venue where children's book creators could share their work and help charities at the same time? What if we could concentrate a lot of new children books in one site? I saw the need for a new web business model.
What if we created a “charitable” company? We mean by that not a charity but a business that by design would really impact an important cause. We decided that our business model would split all revenues: 1/3 to a cause, 1/3 to the book creators and 1/3 to the company itself. That’s not only one third of our profits but one third of our revenues!
My problem was which charity? If I left it to every book creator to decide, we would need to vet thousands of charities – an impossible task. Fortunately, the answer was provided when I attended a Vancouver Board of Trade presentation by John Wood, the founder of Room to Read.
John had just published Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. I loved John’s candor and directness. I loved the fact that he applied sound business practices to make Room to Read a high performance NGO (Non Governmental Organization). At the end, John shared “I wish I had $50 million”. I felt emboldened to introduce myself and say “I think I have your $50 million.”