PITTSFIELD

The business of giving really has no season, but we tend to think of making charitable donations more at the end of the year than we do in the summer.

However, a book publishing company in the Boston area has found a unique way to help readers contribute to their favorite charity with a method that transcends any season.

The Concord Free Press of Concord publishes books by new authors that it gives away for free. All the company asks in return is that the readers make a voluntary donation of any amount to either a charity or someone in need. The company then asks readers to tell them about their donation, before they pass the book on to someone else "so others can give."

The approach appears to be working. So far, readers from around the world have contributed $409,250 in donations, according to the Concord Free Press. Many of the donations are for less than $100, but they have gone to such disparate organizations as the Maryland Food Bank, the United Negro College Fund, and the Wounded Warrior Project. One woman in Oklahoma donated $35 to help an elderly woman in that state fix her water well, while a man in Baltimore contributed $48 to help a Maryland family in need.

You can track your donation on the company’s website, www.concordfreepress.com, to make sure it goes where it’s supposed to.


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The Concord Free Press describes itself as an "author-led, all volunteer nonprofit organization" that is interested in "expanding the definition of publishing" instead of proposing a new business model for publishing. It’s also interested in "exploring the connection between people and books, and inspiring new levels of engagement for readers."

Like most nonprofits, the Concord Free Press keeps its expenses low -- "our office rent is not exactly Manhattanesque," the company states on its website.

However, the expenses it does have, mainly printing and postage, are "significant," according to the company. To offset them, the Concord Free Press provides a portal on its website that allows readers to donate directly to them. Concord also receives financial assistance through grants. The amount of the company’s expenses aren’t listed on its website, but from where I sit a small donation to a publishing company is a fair exchange for receiving a free book.

Concord Free Books is able to operate under this business model because writers, designers, printers and others in similar occupations donate their work and services for a fee. Its press runs are short -- roughly 2,500 copies -- so its books come out as limited editions.

This obviously is not a for profit business model, but the approach does allow writers a place to get their work published, and readers to receive a book for free and take part in a new experiment in both publishing and community giving. What’s not to like about that?

The books Concord publishes raise around $45,000 to $50,000 per title in donations that Concord Free Books knows about. For more information, go to the company’s website at www.concordfreebooks.com.

A national company has also instituted a program that allows for charitable giving. Under Amazon’s Smile program, the company will donate a portion of your purchase to the charitable organization of your choice. Buyers can choose from more than 1 million organizations. According to Amazon.com, tens of millions of products are eligible for these donations. You can also change your charity at any time, For more information, go to amazon.com.

Two different organizations. Two ways to support your favorite charities. It’s an approach that’s welcome all year round.

Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com.