Faversham Stoa is a philosophy discussion group. We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 to 9.30pm in the The Bull in Tanners Street. We cover a large range of topics. There's no charge for membership and everyone is welcome to drop in. Just bring your brain and some beer money!

iVerse

Sell individual poems in the same way iTunes sells individual music tracks.

The elevator pitch

When you think of searching the web you think of Google; when you think of encyclopedias you think of Wikipedia. Our aim is to create the premier poetry site on the web which becomes the first site you go to when you think of poetry. It will be possible to download masses of out-of-copyright free poems as well as paid-for content. Customers will be able to order books on-line, create their own anthologies or download individual poems for a few pence. Poetry will be available in a variety of formats as well as hard copy via Print-
On-Demand technology.

The idea

Publishers of poetry complain about the difficulty of marketing poetry these days, especially new poets who are unknown to the public. I suspect that while most readers will take a risk on a new novelist they are probably less likely to risk an unknown poet because poetry is such a personal taste.

My proposal is that a web site be set up on the same model as iTunes (perhaps called iVerse or even iAmbeter) where you can buy individual poems for a small amount, say, 50p a poem. If the poem is a long narrative work you could sell it in parts.

There would be a lot of free poetry on the site too, including all the out-of-copyright classics in order to generate interest and visits. There would also be free-samples of our commercial poets so customers could see whether they liked a particular poet. If they did, then they could ask for a list of all their poems and pay for a download of one or more items. There could be a discount if the customer downloaded a specific number of poems in a session, say, ten or more, or a set collection.

A casual visitor to the site would be able to browse all the free (out-of-copyright) material, listings of our commercial poets along with their profiles, photos and listings of their work. They could also read samples of our commercial poets on-line and critical articles and reviews. However, if they wanted to download anything they would have to register. Registration would be free but once they had registered they would be able to download individual poems in a variety of formats or generate their own personal anthology of poems which could be downloaded in an ebook format if required.

The emphasis would be on breadth of cover and quality of output which I don't think you find on any existing poetry web site. There would be a huge collection of classic poetry so you would know exactly where to come if you wanted a copy of a remembered poem. The idea would be to promote the site as a one-stop-shop for poetry. Furthermore, the format in which you received it would match the quality of the writing. We would include a library of images on the site, or the customer could upload their own, so that they could include an image with the downloaded poem or collection. There would be a discreet web site credit and url on every download but no irritating ads, although we would want ads on the site itself in order to generate revenue.

All poems would be tagged with their subject matter, key words, style, author, title and first line enabling searches to be conducted. Searches would throw up both our free material and paid-for in order to promote our paid-for content.

Initially a customer would register for free in order to download poetry but once we had their name on the database we could send out our newsletter to them promoting our commercial poets and providing samples of their work. There could even be a poem-a-day or poem-a week service sending out free samples or classics which would be a great promotion

Once a customer opted for a paid-for service or product we would ask them to register their credit card details and keep these for future transactions which would be one-click operations like iTunes and Amazon.

Customers would browse listings of the paid-for content, check the items they wanted, and this could include the profiles and articles as well as poems. They would then decide in what order they wanted the content and where images should be inserted if required. Finally, they would opt for the format(s) they wanted the content delivered in. These would include:

HTML format A4 pdf format A5 booklet pdf format Kindle format Epub format POD hard copy format

If the customer opted for Print-On-Demand paper format they would be offered a range of bindings. The customer could create their own title for the book, an Ex Libris bookplate could be automatically included or a presentation wording if the book was a present to someone.

In addition to creating your own anthology you would be able to download ready-made 'table d'hôte' collections at a lower cost or have them printed and sent to you as POD. We might even provide links to 'real books' you can order.

The site would contain four quite separate items of content: the free out-of-copyright material; our own contracted poets; previously published poets; and self-publishing poets.

Deals would have to be struck with the publishers of established poets. One thinks of someone like Simon Armitage. His publishers would not want sales of his books to be undermined. We would obviously market his books but the publishers would get a large proportion of the 50p or so that we charge for his poetry. Our cut would in effect be a service charge for making the poem available. However, we would make more on the POD printing.

A quite separate section would allow users to upload their own poetry. Much of this material would be rubbish and searches in the 'serious' section would not thrown up hits from the 'user' section. However, it would generate loyalty to the site and more hits, thus helping to generate advertising revenue, and we would get some revenue from users 'vanity printing' their own books or poetry using POD.

Finally, we would want to promote a discussion list on the site to get people coming along regularly, a Facebook page and even Tweets to keep supporters informed of the latest updates to the site. If I also suggested poetry on T-shirts I might be overstretching myself a bit but, still, it's an idea!

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