ReKiosk, the independent online retailer, has landed an exclusive with Julian Assange. The start-up, which sells music and books (largely from indie labels and houses), is the only retailer selling Assange's new e-book, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, which OR Books released last week.
The e-book, acquired by co-founder of OR Colin Robinson, has been covered extensively in the press by outlets ranging from The Guardian (which put the book on the cover of its weekend magazine on December 7) to CNN to The New York Times. The 200 page work, Robinson explained, came about, in part, through connections other OR authors had to Assange. (Robinson said Micah L. Sifrey, whose WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency OR published, along with Chase Madar, who wrote The Passion of Bradley Manning for OR, both know Assange.)
Once Robinson got in touch with Assange, the Wikileaks founder suggested making a book out of some television programs he had produced, which had been aired on TV stations around the world. (Robinson said that the programs came out of a production company Assanged had founded.) The transcripts Robinson quickly zeroed in on were from a series of episodes that ran on a Russian TV station about politics and the Internet. Cypherpunks then grew out of the two transcripts on the topic, with, Robinson said, "a lot of material" added to the original episodes.
Although Robinson would not disclose sales figure on the book, which customers can also buy POD (and comes in a 5x7" trim size, which OR often uses for its titles), he said OR, from its own Web site, has seen periods where "we've been selling a copy every minute." Robinson added that the book has been the most heavily covered title OR has published since its first book, Going Rouge.
When asked if he was worried the retail exclusive with ReKiosk might limit potential sales, Robinson said he was not. He said that OR was founded on the model of selling direct to readers, hence the partnership with a site like ReKiosk. Aziz Isham, cofounder of ReKiosk, said the ideas espoused in the book also match up, philosphically, with his company's business model. Through ReKiosk, users can purchase items from established publishers and also launch their own storefront, to re-sell items they've bought at a lower cost. Isham said: "It was a natural fit for the subject matter, in part because we offer a platform that is uncensored, free and open to all, while still providing users the safety and security they would get from a major digital distributor like Amazon."