Maga-
zines need love too!
Why landing on the Moon was the greatest art project of the 20th century http://t.co/02XImYRcI3  →
Help Make the Encyclopedia of Gratitude Come to Be Help Make the Encyclopedia of Gratitude Come to Be

Help Make the Encyclopedia of Gratitude Come to Be

by Alex Goldmark
April 29, 2011

Erich Origen is a funny guy. For his last book, the satirical graphic novel The Adventures of Unemployed Man, Origen dressed up in full character for his major PR push with signings and multiple media appearances. "I spent a lot of time dressed up in orange spandex, listening to the stories of the struggling and out of work from California to the New York islands. I myself was also struggling—and becoming more aware of the things I was truly grateful for," he tells GOOD.

Before that he wrote a bestselling children's book about George W. Bush. But now he's gone earnest—apparently inspired in part by his last book tour. He's giving up the cape and asking you for help.

Be grateful for: All the Nice Stuff You Bought When You Had Money

He wants to make an encyclopedia of gratitude, a compendium of things to be grateful for, from Abba to Zamboni. Orgien says it is "a reference book that changes how you experience life by giving you a world of things to be grateful for. It's the kind of book you want to give to other people, and to have permanently ensconced in your bathroom—an American Standard, as it were."

What's interesting though is the process. This established writer is sidestepping publishers and PR machines to make this product, at least so far.

Be grateful for: People Who Earn a Living Wearing a Costume for Our Amusement 
Like most capital-poor dreamers these days, he's set up a Kickstarter page. Instead of the usual press release and pitch from a professional PR rep, Origen emailed me saying, "I'm bypassing traditional publishers this time and using Kickstarter to launch the iPad, Kindle, and eventually hardcover editions. Enjoy the arrival of Spring!" If you donate $100 to the project you can honor a person you are grateful to by adding their name to the pages of the final product.
Be grateful for: James Brown

And those pages aren't secret. Origen is creating the book out in the open. His Tumblr blog is a running list of eventual entries into the encyclopedia. For example, we should be grateful for basic friendliness and hotel bathrooms for fairly obvious reasons, along with The Wrath of Khan which "should have earned an Oscar for Ricardo Montalban’s chest alone."

Be grateful for: Our Immigrant Grandparents

The exercise of compiling dozens (and eventually hundreds) of things to be grateful for changes your outlook. It helps you see the world as a more beautiful place. Practicing gratitude, as Buddhism teaches, can be a state of being and awareness when taken seriously.

This project uses humor and whimsy to bring that outlook to our coffee tables. But the real reason we want to watch how the encyclopedia takes shape is the business model. "I haven't decided whether or not I want to work with a traditional publisher for the print version."

Be grateful for: Breaking the Law with Dad

"Part of the story here is me trying to create a financially sustainable way to be an author." Origen says he's had mixed results with past books, particularly e-books.

"Publishers still struggle to produce quality ebooks," Origen tells me. "For example, if you look at the ebook of Goodnight Bush or Unemployed Man, it is basically unreadable. Yet publishers still give authors a royalty on the ebook that isn't too different from the royalty on a printed book, even though the ebook is much more profitable. So when you add it all up, it just makes sense for me to self-publish the ebook as a first step, and later publish the printed book—with or without a traditional publisher. This approach could be the way authors will go in the future. I'm eager to see if it works for me."

We are too.

+
Join the discussion