Why I decided to try and fund this blog....

Portrait of Judy Bonds by Robert Shetterly for his project, Americans Who Tell the Truth, used by permission of the artist. (0rdering info). To read my July 23 blog post on Judy's having to take a medical leave of absence, see: "Judy Bonds: "Fight harder and finish them off."

Want to know more?

Shoot me an email at communitypoweredreporting@gmail.com Or you can ask to join the group community-powered-reporting@googlegroups.com.


An experiment in "community powered reporting"

I'm experimenting with what my friend David Cohn, who started Spot.us, calls "community powered reporting."

Writing about politics and culture, I'm often linking to books and films. When Newstrust readers rate one of my posts high on the list I get a lot of hits. For instance, my post of 7/16, "PBS: Can you say, unlevel playing field?" (reviews here).

Here are some others that were reviewed:
But traffic doesn't translate to money. So here's the experiment--my readers can help fund this blog if they used my referral code to open up the webpage for Amazon when they want to shop there. I'll also be adding links to Powell's Books and perhaps E-Bay--if you have any other suggestions for places you shop online which have affiliate programs, let me know. (I've added a handy widget to go there on the right side of the blog.)

I would have loved to have already found someone to fund my writing

Say, if Spot.us had brought crowd-funded journalism to Appalachia. (And it may happen yet. Until then, you can still help me and David, if you want to be a sponsor of his community centered advertising on mtr or other topics you care about...but that's a topic for another post.)

Or if I had a day job in new media. I had more time to write when Newstrust.net to had enough money to budget my salary as community developer. Even a few stints as paid editor, a position I held for three news hunts this year, helped. (The last funded by a donation from a friend who wanted to support my coverage of energy issues)

So, while I wait, this is one small step

After all, Jonathan Greene of Gnomon Press explained to Meredith Sue Wilson for her September 10, 2007 Books for Readers Newsletter,

Small Press Distribution and Consortium that distribute books for many small presses return even less to small presses that Amazon: they normally sell books to stores or chains at 40% - 55% then take half of the gross receipts of any payment and put the amount due the publisher in escrow for three months. And Consortium charges the publisher a re-stocking fee for any books stores or distributors return [sometimes in unsellable condition.

Why Amazon?

After a brief trial, I refused to use Google Adsense (with its odd matches from folks like Friends of Coal or ambulance chasers following disasters). Not to mention its odd notion that folks need to click through, rather than read a display ad.

And I loathe camouflaged paid-product endorsements masquerading as independent assessments.

So here's the disclosure

Amazon pays a cut, if folks buy from its site, after clicking on my link. I get to pick what I'm endorsing, and it's based on my opinion, not revenue from the producer to flack a product. So, it's kind of like a merchant selecting an item for a store, although, nowhere near the profit.

If you buy the soft cover version of Bob's book for $7.99 (Puffin, 2008, 48 pages) using this link, 4% will go to support my writing on mtr, renewable energy and energy efficiency. I'm not sure what Amazon is paying authors and publishers, but once I find out, I'll share it here.

So, spread the word on Bob's book? http://amzn.to/coa6km.

That's a buck for each $25.01 order

I'm using that amount because, with it, you get free shipping. You can even order together with friends, as long as it goes to one snail mail address. That's a great deal or I wouldn't suggest it.

I checked. You can order it few places for 27 cents less, but Amazon has a 4-for-3 sale going on. When you order any four eligible books under $10, you get the lowest-price book free. (http://amzn.to/bBbUAM).

BTW, Dutton's 2005 hardcover edition of Bob's book is available for $14.81--part of the $25.01 free shipping deal but not the 4-for-3 special. This is marketed as a juvenile book because of the reading level, but I promise you, it's inspiring to adults.

You can also get the companion volume to the movie Coal Country... Rising Up Against Mountaintop Removal Mining was edited by Shirley Stewart Burns (http://amzn.to/cZL1YT Mari-Lynn Evans (http://amzn.to/ad27Vx) and Silas House (http://amzn.to/dkPVwv). In paper (http://amzn.to/aROM0X), it's $17.10. In hardback, $30. (http://amzn.to/cd6GBb.) And there's the dvd of the film and the cd of the score.

For any month where I earn more than $1000, I'll share with activists

I need to pay part of my rent and utilities, my health insurance, groceries and car expenses, since the research, linking and writing takes time.

But I'd rather write on things I view of import than hawk "to-do" articles to airline magazines.

Since I'm not clear on what "units" means , let's assume the worst--that "unit" means an order. (I'll update this post when I do find out the answer.) So, if 616 folks order $25.01 during the month, after that, I'll start sending checks to the activists associated with the post--Coal River Mountain Watch, Robert Shetterly and the filmmakers behind Coal Country in the case of this post.

So which other books are eligible for the 4-for-3 deal?

I was happy to see Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina (http://amzn.to/c1rR9Y), also $7.99 (http://amzn.to/d38ycu) Or her sequel Unquiet Earth for $6.99 (http://amzn.to/ct0VbU . Also Borrowed Children by George Ella Lyon (http://amzn.to/cmyBiz) for $9.95 (http://amzn.to/bqxC5C). Couldn't find any other Appalachian books, right off hand, but The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (http://amzn.to/baRFCq), who lives in SW Virginia, features a KY native as the protagonist who travels elsewhere. It's $7.99 (http://amzn.to/9ed7nU). No books by Pearl Buck (http://amzn.to/dgzOVz). Sigh.

Of course, if you pick two for $7.99 @, one of the books has to cost at least $9.03 to get to discount to work. So if you don't order George Ella's book, there's The Epic of Gilgamesh for $9.95 (http://amzn.to/bhBlrw) or Travels in Alaska by John Muir for $9.75 http://amzn.to/bxdV08 or Swann's Way ( the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust for $9.95 (http://amzn.to/9XjBwB).

Or check out the choices for yourself

For instance:
Or pick out your favorite category here. (http://amzn.to/a1CxgO)

You can also help by ordering Kindle downloads

The affiliate share is 10%. David Rothman and I have this on-going debate. Hey I love beautiful paper books, but some prefer e-books. He started Teleread (and has sold it to someone who has a business model to pay its writers.)

Kindle seems to be helping authors (to its own business model), offering 70% in royalties after delivery costs (about 6 cents) compared to publishers who offer 15% for hardcovers, 7.5% for trade paperbacks, and 25% for e-books. (And I suspect that this is after expenses, which will be higher than 6 cents.

So, if I run across a kindle version of a book I recommend, I'll include it, despite my preferences.

You get the idea. Can you help?

As folks know, I always advocate for ordering from the author, small press, or locally-owned bookstore to keep these folks in business. But, as Jonathan tells it, Amazon is pretty good for small publishers. So if you're ordering from Amazon, ...why not support coverage of the fight against mtr? And if you'd rather not order from Amazon, it's still a great site to research the book...before you head out to the brick-and-mortar store, if you're still lucky enough to have one near you.