Profit Sharing Cooperative Or Book Kibbutz

I spent about five months living on Kibbutz around 25 years ago, back when they still had children's houses. Now the Kibbutz movement in Israel is more of a real estate play than a socialist utopia. My own take on why it happened is that collectivization requires shared sacrifice (even when it's subsidized) and communal sacrifice requires a shared vision (unless it's being imposed from above by a Stalin). When the vision was lost, the movement couldn't be far behind, though they had fun for a generation or two.

I bring up the Kibbutz model in the context of yesterday's post about business models for a new publisher. Any long standing Kibbutz member will tell you that there was way too much politics, and I don't mean Marx vs Trotsky. It's more like, who's stuck on dish washing duty for two weeks straight because the next person in line is sleeping with the Kibbutz secretary, and why do they have to serve carrots at every meal. When they ventured from agriculture into factories (even agricultural factories), it turned out that the management jobs couldn't be rotated as easily fruit picking duty. So if I got involved in founding a book Kibbutz, it would have to be on the new modified Kibbutz model of privatization and individual responsibility rather than along socialist lines.

But I do believe that there is room for a cooperative publishing model, one in which up-front costs are reduced by giving various professionals engaged in the book's production a couple percentage points in the net. As with a reduced advance for an author, those points would come at the expense of commanding market rates for their labor. It's an either-or system, not an and-and. The percentages would be set so that the break even point for the participating editor, designer or marketer would come at the break even figure for the overall publishing operation. Produce a stellar book that sells and everybody wins. Produce a scrap of nothing and everybody loses.

I know that personally, I lost interest in working for wages a long time ago. I 'd rather work on spec and take my knocks then knock myself out working for THE MAN. While I went through the "consulting" phase of self employment back in the 90's, I found it's not very different from having job. In fact, it's very much like having a job with no benefits , and if you're congenitally responsible, the work and the stress are the same regardless of the job title. The same is true for working as a trade author. I thought that was the road to independence, but it turned out to be another job without retirement. So, a virtual book Kibbutz (I'm not living with any of you kooks:-) could be another option for launching a new publishing company without sinking the ship of finance.

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