029: The Secret Behind a Million-Dollar Kickstarter: Adam Greene’s Bibliotheca [Podcast]

I began to perceive books as this sort of reverent artifact, this special thing that miraculously transmits words across centuries and millennia.
—Adam Greene

More than words that make up pages. More than just a good story. Books are works of art meant to be cherished and passed down from generation to generation. But in this day of mass production, are books being made that will stand the test of time?

029: The Secret Behind a Million-Dollar Kickstarter: Adam Greene’s Bibliotheca [Podcast]

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing book designer Adam Greene who was the mastermind behind the million-dollar Kickstarter campaign, Bibliotheca.

Adam believes content and design are meant to complement each other. Even in the Information Age, he believes in creating books that are elegant and enjoyable to read. He decided to apply these beliefs to one of the oldest pieces of literature in the world: the Bible.

Bibliotheca, as it was called, had a starting goal of $37,000 on Kickstarter, which was met in just 27 hours. It eventually reached $1.4 million in 30 days. How did he do it? Adam didn’t start with a massive blog audience. He started with an idea, passion, and the support of family and friends.

In this episode of The Portfolio Life, Adam and I discuss the history of books and what makes them beautiful (and readable). We also talk about his project Bibliotheca and what it takes to launch a super successful Kickstarter campaign.

Listen to the interview

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email, click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

Interview highlights

In this interview, we discuss:

  • How books should be beautiful, elegant, and well-made (even in the Information Age).
  • The story behind Bibliotheca, one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in history.
  • How Adam met his Kickstarter goal of $37,000 in just 27 hours after launch and went on to raise $1.4 million.
  • The video behind his successful launch (and why it was crucial to Bibliotheca’s success).
  • What happens after a Kickstarter campaign ends (and the real work begins).
  • What’s next for Adam Greene (and maybe for book publishing, in general).

What is Bibliotheca?

Bibliotheca is the entire biblical library separated into volumes and designed purely for reading. The text is reverently treated in classic typographic style, free of all added conventions such as chapter numbers, verse numbers, section headers, cross references and notes.

Adam desired to create an alternative to the encyclopedic nature of the Bible and create a reading experience that was less daunting. The Kickstarter campaign that funded the project is over, but Bibliotheca is now available for pre-order.

To find out more, watch Adam’s video, or pre-order Bibliotheca, go here.

I hope you enjoy the interview. Feel free to download it and share with friends. And I’d love for you to take a moment and leave a review on iTunes.

A couple of interesting writing resources

Here are some things you might have missed:

  • Don’t miss my free webinar today with Joseph Michael, the Scrivener Coach, on how to organize, write, and format your eBook (replay available for those who sign up).
  • If you’re interested in seeing how a book is written from idea to publication, check out Fiction Unboxed. If you pick it up today, you’ll also get a free bonus video series: “Write. Publish. Repeat. Conversations” when it’s released next month.

Do you think it’s important to have well made books? Share in the comments.

19 thoughts on “029: The Secret Behind a Million-Dollar Kickstarter: Adam Greene’s Bibliotheca [Podcast]

  1. Thank you for the creativity and attention given to this new presentation of the most amazing book. Your insight on books miraculously transmitting words and ideas across the centuries is both powerful and true. I am also writing an action book series for kids called The Amazing Scrolls of Wonder to help kids travel back in time and experience the amazing stories in the Bible.

  2. Great episode! This is such an inspiring project. Thanks for shining a spotlight on it, Jeff, and big kudos to Adam for sharing his passion for books and proving that good design still matters. As a lifelong book lover and former editor @ Wiley, I love seeing new channels for niche book projects come to fruition like this — projects where quality doesn’t take a back seat to profit margins and bottom lines, where we can honor the rich traditions of bookmaking and classic literature. This is publishing at its very best. So grateful to you both for your thoughtful discussion here. I’m sad I missed out on the Kickstarter project, but you can bet your best leather binding that I’m off to pre-order this now!

  3. I loved following this Kickstarter campaign! I also love it when people challenge the status quo and reinvent old ideas. Reminds me of a Henry Ford quote, “If I would have asked them want they needed, they would have said faster horses.”

    1. I followed it, too, and donated! I’m very excited to receive the final product and enjoy it to the fullest!

  4. I’m surprised at how low the price is, to be honest. when I watched the video I imagined the whole set would run around $250 at the low end. It looks very, very nice. My inner (okay, not so “inner”) type geek is totally nerding out over this. This is the kind of stuff I get excited about. I actually read Bringhurst for fun.

  5. Interesing. I especially agree with what you wrote about book that should be beautiful – I personally have a passion for a products, from any kind, that look amazing – such as Apple products – and especailly books.
    That’s the way I tried to design my new blog – hope I succeded: eddiepaley.wordpress.com

  6. Excellent interview and I think the Bibliotheca project is amazing. I connected to the vision instantly.

    My favorite quote from Adam went something like “I felt like I was learning things I already knew”. I like the way he’s realized that this is his “calling” and I think it’s an important idea that we all should be (by ‘should’ I mean we’ll be happier there) doing our “calling” whether it’s glamorous or not.

  7. Thanks for the interview! I was an early KickStarter supporter of this project and am jazzed at how its taken off. I can hardly wait to get my books and to start reading in this format. Blessings,

  8. Wondering if anyone is going to follow up with this guy and find out why there’s still no consistent updates about the supposed product and nothing more than a vague pseudo-timeline that keeps getting pushed farther and farther into the future?

  9. One would think a project that needed less than $40,000 in funding would be more efficient in its production having $1.4 million at its disposal. Somehow the opposite has happened and the project is nearly a year late in delivery… If it gets delivered ever! Just give us what we paid for… Who cares about bleach this and paper that… its the format of the content that’s appealing and important… Not the quality of the production.

  10. Now that the project is complete, I am truly looking forward to seeing the set of books showing up on my doorstep in the next eight weeks or so. This has been a long road, but, as backers of the project, like myself, can affirm, it is not only the content that’s appealing and important, but the quality of the production as well. Incredibly, Adam raised over 37 times more than the original goal! How do you respond to that kind of funding in any other way than to do right by your supporters by upgrading the project quality to be as good as can be done? It took more time―quire a bit more, and I too have been frustrated at times―but years from now, the actual books on my shelf will be more important than the original production timeline. Thank you, Adam.

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