Backed Or Whacked: Reading And Writing Through Crowdfunding

Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and blogs at Techspressive. Each column looks at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals. Follow him on Twitter @rossrubin.

An ancient and once-sacred bond between author and audience, reading and writing have become but two more tasks along with a multitude of other things that we do on a host of digital devices — watcing videos, listening to music, playing games, and really anything except using Facebook Home. Still, there are some for whom the intimate act of interface between pen and paper retains more magic than all the electrons powering all the devices in the world have not been able to recreate. For them, a trio of European crowdfunding projects have trotted out a range of products to improve both endpoints of analog document creation.

BW-lazypeteWhacked: LazyPeteArrgh! Listen up, ye scurvy dogs, as I tell ye the legend of Lazy Pete, a pirate so wrapped up in his romance novels that he didn’t see a great white shark leap from the ocean to leave him with just one hand. ‘Tis in Lazy Pete’s honor that Philip Musche surely named his one-handed book reading contraption, which essentially puts one of those book stands that keep pages open on a beefy handle. Despite showing off the reading aid in nearly enough colors to cover the Seven Seas, Musche failed to capture enough crowdfunding booty, and the campaign ended with only £533 of the desired £30,000 treasure.

BW-idaeBacked: IdaeWhat the GoPro is to most digital cameras, Idae is to most pocket journals, even the durable Field Notes. The waterproof, tear-resistant notebook is just the thing for when you need to make that critical addition to your grocery shopping list in the middle of your next scuba dive, and a perfect match for your Fisher Space Pen. And if you needed any more proof of just how extreme it is, it has a hole for a carabiner.

That said, fire will consume it along with the haiku you were inspired to write on the slopes. And if you’re not planning to keep your notes around indefinitely, the notebook can be recycled. Developed in Milan and shipped to backers last month for between $20 and $30 depending on cover color, the 32-page thought preserver cleared its $7,200 funding goal with a couple of hundred dollars to spare, but you’d expect that kind of nail-biting excitement from such a tough guy.

BW-meteorBacked: Meteor GripThe pencil has been thin enough to serve as a benchmark against which to compare high-tech electronics. While it’s comfortable for many, at least for short periods, it can be difficult to grasp for some. Receiving inspiration when his partner Zoë, a tattoo artist, began suffering hand pain in December 2011, Pontefract, UK-based Jai Dickerson Pierce developed the Meteor Grip. Few details are provided about what material is used to create the grip. Rather, the key to its uniqueness is being available in both right and left-handed versions. As the campaign page employs double negatives to claim, “No other manufacturer produces an ergonomic hand grip that is not ambidextrous.”

That said, the campaign is not above covering a spectrum of uses, claiming that the product is useful as a novelty gift while also proclaiming that it is “changing the writing experience forever.” Not yet changed for kiddies, though, as a potential meteorite grip is for now on the drawing board. With a bit over three weeks left to go, the Meteor Grip has collected about a quarter of its humble £875 goal. Seven pounds will marry your love of astronomy with hatred of thin writing tools, and ten pounds can get one for you as well as the cramping tattoo artist in your life as soon as this month.