What is Bindery?
Bindery is a membership platform that helps tastemakers of the book world cultivate their community, share their creativity, champion the authors and stories that matter to them, and earn a sustainable income doing so. We believe that tastemakers create tremendous value to the publishing industry through their deep connections with readers and that they deserve to take on a larger role in the publishing ecosystem. We help them do this first by offering a bookish membership platform that helps them earn sustainable income from the most passionate members of their audience. The most unique benefit we offer is that tastemakers with larger established communities, upon invitation, may opt to use a portion of their membership earnings to fund the publication of new books by authors their communities will love. Bindery then partners with the tastemaker to design their imprint, attract submissions for potential titles, and manage editorial, design, printing, traditional marketing, and distribution to everywhere books are sold.
Why should tastemakers get to choose which books get published?
Over the last several years, it’s become clear that book tastemakers create tremendous value for the publishing industry. In a world that is flooded with books, tastemakers are surfacing the hits. Tastemakers have two key things that publishers need: (1) a strong point of view and taste in books that resonates with readers, and (2) a way to reach those readers. Editorial and design are more crucial than ever due to an oversaturated market. And relationships with sales reps matter to ensure the books are present anywhere readers want to buy them. Those are publishing functions that Bindery provides.
Too many authors have been marginalized by the traditional publishing industry because they lack their own marketing platform or represent a reading community publishers either don’t know how to reach or believe may be too risky to pursue. Bindery allows the people closest to these reading communities—the tastemakers—to create a new pathway for deserving authors to get published and reach the readers who will love them.
Which kind of authors are right for Bindery?
Our focus is on marginalized and overlooked authors who lack their own platform and desire the production, distribution, and marketing benefits of a traditional publisher combined with the full force of a tastemaker’s promotional platform. Many authors have found success in other paths, and we celebrate them. Authors should choose whatever path is right for their goals, earning potential, and ability to reach readers.
Why would an author want to be published through a tastemaker’s imprint?
Publishing through a tastemaker’s imprint has three key benefits: strong royalties for authors; quality editorial, design, marketing, and distribution; a tastemakers’ marketing muscle; and continued promotional efforts at launch. Bindery authors earn a $10K advance and 50% royalties on net earnings, which equates in dollars to over 2x an industry average per-book royalty amount. After a tastemaker greenlights your book, their Bindery community becomes your community. Because a tastemaker earns royalties on your book, too, they will direct the full power of their social media presence and network of influencers towards ensuring your book is as successful as possible. In an age where authors are expected to be both writers and marketers of their work, Bindery allows authors to focus on what they do best: creating the stories that move us all.
Who built Bindery?
Bindery was built by a team of experienced publishing professionals, product leaders, and authors with a passion for seeing incredible books connect with readers who love them. We believe tastemakers are the connective tissue in that equation, and we want to empower them to evolve the industry for the benefit of the many authors who are not currently well served. Our advisors and investors include leaders from the creator economy, publishing, and tech worlds, all united by the same mission. You can find our full bios on the Teams page.
How do I join Bindery as a tastemaker?
We are a small team and, in our early stage, Bindery memberships are invite-only. If you are interested in launching a community, please join the waitlist, and we’ll reach out when we have capacity. We expect to launch an onboarding experience for curation-only memberships in the near future. Opening a publishing imprint through Bindery will remain invite-only. We will invite tastemakers based on our confidence in their ability to run a successful imprint through our platform, with indicators being size of following, depth of audience engagement, demonstrated success with a Bindery membership, desire to support overlooked authors, and our ability to support the kinds of books they’re interested in publishing.
What do I get as a community member?
Bindery’s unique content-enhanced bookshelf weaves bookish content and books together in an explorable experience. While anyone can peruse the bookshelf, some content is accessible only when you join the tastemaker’s membership. Membership benefits vary by tastemaker, but all will include exclusive content and community benefits. In addition to access to exclusive content and community, tastemakers who have publishing imprints will invite their community’s participation in key publishing decisions, create opportunities to meet authors, and, depending on the tier and time in membership, offer the ability to receive ebooks, early physical copies of new books, and special perks like getting your name in the acknowledgments page of books you participated in. Publishing memberships are expected to publish one to two original books a year, to start. Publishing volume will grow with the size of the community, with larger communities expected to publish several books per year. Refer to an individual tastemaker’s site for details on what they offer.
For further FAQs about subscriptions, please see the Subscriber Questions section of this FAQ.
How do tastemakers, authors, and Bindery make money?
Tastemakers earn 75% of subscription revenue if running a curation-only membership space and 100% of affiliate revenue. At a larger community size, tastemakers we invite can elect to divert a portion of their membership earnings to partially fund the publication of new books by authors they know their communities will love. If they choose to do this, they will reduce their membership earnings to 50% of subscription revenue, diverting 25% to partially subsidize the cost of publishing a new book, including an advance payment to the author. (Bindery’s 25% also goes towards the book’s production budget.) Crucially, this allows us to offer authors more than 2x industry-standard royalties along with a $10k advance. Tastemakers, in exchange for taking a risk on the book, earn a 25% stake in the royalties as well. Bindery either earns 25% from subscription revenue in curation-only memberships or 25% on book royalties, incentivizing us to partner effectively with tastemakers and authors to make sure the books sell well.
Deal Terms and Protections for Authors
What are the deal terms for Bindery authors?
We offer a standard $10k advance, paid half on signing and half when the book is sent to the printer.
Bindery’s net earnings on all formats are split between author (50%), tastemaker (25%) and Bindery (25%). In dollars, this amounts to 2x the average per-book earnings on a traditional list price royalty. The royalty structure allows the author to earn out their advance at very low sales figures, with strong upside potential if their book sells well.
Why does Bindery pay royalties on net vs list price?
Bindery’s royalty structure is not only meant to signify our partnership—its financial effect is to include the author in efficiencies that are normally enjoyed by the publisher only.
- Net royalty structure helps authors capture value from more lucrative sales channels. With a traditional royalty based on list price, the author makes the same amount no matter where the book is sold and doesn’t get to participate in the additional margin when their books are sold through more lucrative channels. (For example, Bindery’s books, when sold directly through tastemakers’ direct channels, earn nearly double royalties because there is no wholesale discount.)
- At larger print runs, the price to print each unit goes down, increasing the publisher’s margin. A net royalty model allows the author to participate in these economies of scale along with the publisher.
How does Bindery calculate net royalty?
Publishers calculate net in a variety of ways, which is why transparency on this point is important. For us, net means (as codified in our author agreements):
Minus wholesale discount (retailer’s cut): up to 52% to brick-and-mortar retailers, less in certain channels, none for direct-to-consumer sales
Minus distributor’s cut (includes shipping and warehousing): 25%
Minus print cost of reprints (the initial print run’s unit cost is covered by Bindery)
= Net royalty received
Any marketing costs, editorial and design costs, the initial print run cost, and other overhead costs are not included in our calculation of net.
It may be helpful to look at this in dollars. Here’s an example to illustrate:
For a $19.95 paperback, a traditional 6-8% list-based royalty earns the author $1.20-1.60/book. The same book in its first print run with Bindery earns the author $3.59 per copy sold on Amazon, $4.82 when a copy is sold at a bookstore, and $7.48 per copy sold from the tastemaker’s direct channel.
Note that author earnings come from a variety of formats and sales channels. We structured our royalties off net so that the author can participate in the margin offered by various sales channels.
Regardless of the channel mix, Bindery’s holistic earnings projections for authors exceeds 2x traditional royalty models. In the first print run, a weighted-average earnings would earn the author around $4.47/book, earning out the $10k advance very early. Subsequent printings, where the unit cost of the print run is deducted before royalty split, still net the author an estimated average of $3.20/book.
As a reader, know that by supporting independent bookstores or buying direct from our tastemakers, you will ensure the Bindery authors earn more on every copy sold.
Final note: Any copies provided to members as a benefit will be paid author royalties at 10% of list price.
Does Bindery manage foreign and audio rights?
Because subrights sales are an important component of author earnings, we represent those rights for authors who allow us to represent them. We are also happy to publish without owning any subsidiary rights. We pay Author’s Guild–recommended rates or higher on all subrights we manage. All rights that Bindery is not able to exercise on the author’s behalf during a three-year post-publication term revert to the author upon request.
Is the tastemaker responsible for the production and distribution of an author’s books?
Tastemakers decide what to greenlight, weigh in on key select creative decisions like cover design, and primarily create content for their audience throughout the publishing journey. The editorial, design, and distribution process will be handled in partnership with Girl Friday Productions, a leading book production agency that has been producing books for every major publisher, dozens of independent publishers (under those publishers’ imprints), and self-published authors since 2006. Bindery’s books are distributed through Two Rivers, an Ingram brand (the world’s largest book distributor), into traditional trade channels. Alongside a tastemaker’s promotional efforts, Bindery handles more traditional marketing activities, like review mailings and pitches to pre-publication review outlets, book review editors, targeted media outlets, and other influencers, to fully support our books.
What creative control do authors have?
Authors have final creative control over all things editorial, with the guidance and support of the world-class editors at Girl Friday Productions. Authors have final approval on initial cover-concept directions, with tastemakers having approval on final cover art, leveraging the input of their Bindery community to ensure it hits the mark for the book’s readership and the author’s vision.
Does Bindery’s contract include AI protections?
Yes. We believe strongly in the human arts of curation and creation and are here to support artists. We will never use AI-generated art, narration, or text in our books, nor will our materials be offered for machine learning. Our contracts reflect the Author’s Guild recommended protections in this area.
What kinds of books does Bindery publish, and how many?
For now, Bindery will be publishing single-color, text-only trade paperbacks and hardcovers, primarily fiction. The number of books each tastemaker can publish will depend on the size of their membership community, but we anticipate each imprint releasing 1–2 books per year. We will print beautiful offset runs and will be warehousing and distributing with Ingram, the world’s largest book distributor.
We’ve already received a number of submissions from leading literary agents. We expect our first books to be greenlit a couple months after tastemakers launch their imprints in Fall 2023, with our first published books available at bookstores as early as Fall 2024.
How do I submit a manuscript to a Bindery tastemaker?
To ensure our small team is able to offer tastemakers a set of submissions that meet their criteria, we are starting by working with literary agents. However, individual tastemakers may elect to open submissions to unagented authors from time to time and for limited durations. We are firm believers in indie publishing (see our team’s background), but we need time to make it operationally feasible to have a fully open submission process. It is in line with our mission to move in this direction. Stay tuned on our social channels for more updates.
How do I know what benefits I’m eligible for?
You can check your eligibility for certain benefits at “Manage My Membership” in the menu of your tastemaker’s site. Here, you can review your eligibility for benefits and change your subscription tier. Physical benefit eligibility is tied to 90-day continuous duration at a given tier.
If you cancel your membership, we will no longer have your mailing address in our system, so you will not receive physical benefits. You must be a subscriber at the time the benefit is sent out in order to receive it.
Can I subscribe from anywhere in the world?
Because we are still early stage, note that at this time, only residents of the US and Canada are eligible to receive physical benefits. We’re working to expand our range to be able to fulfill physical benefits globally.
What happens when I update my subscription?
If you choose to upgrade your membership to a higher tier, Stripe prorates your charge based on the date of your upgrade.
How do I cancel my subscription?
You can cancel your subscription at any time from the account settings in the menu when you are logged in. If you choose to cancel your membership, you will have access to exclusive content through the end of the thirty-day period starting with your last payment.
I’m having an issue with the product or billing. Who do I contact?
Support requests can be submitted here.