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September 30, 2006

Fundraiser to Get Your Name in an Author's Book

Some very clever fundraising campaigns have taken place on eBay. There are, of course, the personal kind, such as the number of professional wrestlers putting their old ring attire up for bid in hopes of generating some extra cash flow and even one ex-female wrestling personality putting her implants on eBay. (WWE has its own auction site for "guaranteed authentic" items).

One of the most clever recent fundraising campaigns on eBay was used to raise money for a good cause by leading to interaction with a celebrity. In the case of the recent First Amendment Project fundraiser, however, it was not anything physical that the winning bidder received but instead the chance to have their name appear in an upcoming book from a variety of different authors.

According to its defined purpose, the "First Amendment Project is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition. For nearly ten years, FAP has provided advice, educational materials, and legal representation to its core constituency of activists, journalists, and artists in service of these fundamental liberties."

The authors who signed onto this project believe in the reach and goals of the First Amendment Project and are going to reward winning bidders by immortalizing them. The bids ran through most of September and, in all, raised $14,146.88.

From a "convergence standpoint," the contest is interesting on two fronts, both for the fundraiser campaign taking place through eBay and thus not only raising money for the First Amendment Project but also gaining a lot of free publicity as millions more became aware of the auction even without directly participating. And, of course, the implications for reader/author interaction is great when readers are bidding for a chance to appear in an author's upcoming book. Authors also gave away signed copies of books and personal phone calls to the winning bidders.

The most fierce competition was for author Chris Ware, with the winner bidding $4,049.99 to appear in Ware's next work. Another reader paid $2,850.00 to appear in Philip Margolin's next book.

Also participating in the contest was Tim Green (winning bid $1,259.46), Lorrie Moore (winning bid $1,136.01), Carl Hiassen (winning bid $1,025), Elinor Lipman (winning bid $511), Douglas Preston (winning bid $511), Francine Prose (winning bid $510), Kevin J. Anderson (winning bid $449.44), Edward P. Jones (winning bid $449.44), John Lescroart (winning bid $449.44), Patricia Polacco (winning bid $406), Stephen Elliott (winning bid $305), and Emily Barton (winning bid $235).

Thanks to Henry Jenkins for bringing the eBay campaign to my attention.

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