Unbound’s diverse spectrum of projects are all crowdfunded. These are our favourite projects to support right now.

Ten years ago, author Dan Kieran, director of research for QI John Mitchinson and historian and QI researcher Justin Pollard came together to shake up the publishing industry. In response to the constraints of the traditional model, Unbound was born, a publishing company that puts the power in the hands of the consumer – the people who actually buy and read the books being published – by crowdfunding all its new projects.

There is still an editorial selection process before books go live for funding – rather than readers having to wade through thousands of ideas – but its egalitarian ethos enables the ideas themselves to take centre stage. Some of Unbound’s authors are established writers you’ll have heard of, trying out new creative projects here; others are entirely new talents who may not have agent representation but do have a great, perhaps overlooked, story to tell. As for the books themselves, they are frequently beautiful. Plus the pledge model allows for a variety of ‘rewards’, which often see supporters names in the book.

Here is a small selection of our favourite volumes being crowd-funded right now. They are, however, just the tip of the iceberg; we recommend you have a good trawl through yourself. Got a story of your own to tell? Why not let them know on their submissions page?

The Illustrated Wake

By Caroline Ross and Paul Kingsnorth
When writer and thinker Paul Kingsnorth published The Wake in 2014, it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Goldsmith’s Prize and scooped the Gordon Burn Award. It’s not hard to fathom the litany of accolades for this arresting, post-apocalyptic tale, which is set a thousand years ago during the Norman invasion. Its protagonist, Buccmaster of Holland, a free farmer in Lincolnshire, has lost everything: his sons (in the Battle of Hastings), as well as his wife and his home. Unanchored in the world and with nothing left to lose, he rallies a band of men to take up arms against the invaders.

It’s no surprise to learn that Mark Rylance has optioned the film rights of what has already come to be seen as a modern classic. Now you can pledge and support this new edition, which comes with 35 of illustrator Caroline Ross’ original drawings, all using appropriately traditional materials. Inspired by Kingsnorth’s use of ‘shadow tongue’, an updated version of Old English, the tenor of the illustrations is hidden, shadowy and truly beautiful. Should it meet its target, the book will be reproduced in full colour and printed on 120gsm Munken Natural paper, folded, gathered and sewn and bound in cloth in limited edition of 750 copies.

Rewards range from being named a patron in the front of the book to original artworks to one-on-one art sessions.

Philosophers’ Dogs

By Samuel Dodson and Rosie Benson
We love this firmly tongue-in-cheek idea that asks whether the greats of eastern and western philosophy haven’t stolen all their best ideas from their dogs. (A clue: yes they have.) They say: ‘A vital companion to the bookshelves of all philosophy students, teachers, dog lovers and, indeed, anyone with any interest in THE TRUTH, Philosophers’ Dogs also reveals the original, genuine quotes hitherto (wrongly) attributed to minds such as Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, David Foster Wallace, Socrates and Simone De Beauvoir.’

Rewards include a ‘man’s best friend package’, as well as a ‘good dog’ package. The dearth of funny books being published right now is a perennial gripe of ours (where, for example, are today’s Wodehouses, Waughs and Mitfords?). This promises to deliver the laughs, which makes us love it instantly. Pledge and make it happen.

Lost And Found

By Elizabeth Garner
Gosh we love the sound of this one. Amanda Craig, writing in The Times, describes how ‘Garner writes of myth with lyricism and sensitivity, she is steeped in the gift for being able to control the surreal with startling force.’ In this book, she promises to bring back to life heroes and heroines of often forgotten folklore, those characters who dare to stray from the well-trodden path.

Garner says, ‘As a child, the diverse cast of folk tale characters – the foes and the friends – were my own extraordinary companions as I explored the fields and woods of my local village. The folk tales both enriched the landscape and also enabled me to travel beyond it. I could follow Trickster Jack through his adventures above the world I knew and beneath it; I could ride on the back of the Black Bull of Noroway, across the mountains as I solved the riddles of the three castles; I could fly above the never-ending pine forests of Russia sitting beside iron-toothed Baba Yaga the bony-legged witch, riding in her pestle and mortar. I would always get back safely in the end, but I would return home changed.’

It sounds like magic. Want to learn how to write enchantingly like Elizabeth Garner? One of her rewards is a one-on-one writing critique.

You’re Thinking About Tomatoes

By Michael Rosen and Cole Henley
Michael Rosen is rightly beloved as a writer of children’s books. Now he is collaborating with the illustrator Cole Henley on this graphic take on his book, You’re Thinking About Tomatoes, in which protagonist Frank goes on a class trip to a grand stately home. Things go awry when the exhibits start coming to life.

They say: ‘Bit by bit, the animated characters tell the story of how this stately home came to be quite so stately - and it's not a pretty tale. The mummy, though, can be relied on to make it a crazily funny one: he is sure that he has a part to play in a remake of 'The Mummy's Tomb' – or indeed in any old movie.’ Pledge to get signed copies, original artworks or to become a patron.

The Unwinding

By Jackie Morris
This is one of the most beautiful books we’ve seen in years. And we’re not alone either. Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat, agrees, saying, ‘Jackie's work is far more than just flawless wildlife painting. She captures the soul of her – hares, otters, foxes, bears – revealing their true natures, and allowing us a rare glimpse into a world of magic.’

Jackie Morris, previously garlanded with the Kate Greenaway award, specialises in painting the most beautiful and transporting illustrations drawn from the natural world. To create this book, she revisited the pictures she created whilst working on commissioned picture books.

These are the in-between images – of a woman dancing with a fox, or asleep with a bear – that represented the ‘unwinding’ she alludes to in the title. From these, which were first created in sketch books and now emerge as large paintings in colour, she has created a ‘pillow book’. And if you’re unfamiliar with that concept, it is, as she describes, ‘in the ancient tradition of Sei Shonagan, a book to tuck up the sleeve, in a pocket, under a pillow, containing fragments of dreams. Designed to be a portal, a talisman, it invites readers to enter its world, through word and image. Created over time, drawn first into the pages of sketchbooks, then emerging as large paintings in colour, each image carries many stories, and some of these are told in words to be read aloud or whispered in the head. Fragments of stories, part prose, part poem, catalysts for dreaming.’

We anticipate many dreamy hours sharing this book with our children, and then pouring over it long after they’re asleep too. Pledge to buy the signed book, or exclusive bookplates, among other beauties.

Grand Dishes

By Iska Lupton and Anastasia Miari
Sometimes an idea for a book comes along that make you slap your forehead in wonder that no one has ever thought of it before. Iska Lupton and Anastasia Miari’s Grand Dishes is one such. The duo – writer Anastasia and creative director, Iska – have really put the (we’re sure entirely pleasurable) hard work in, finding grandmothers across the world, travelling to meet them, and mining their, often handed-down, recipe repository for each’s signature dish.

Not only is it beautifully photographed, but it explores how – across far flung corners of the globe – humanity is united by the universal: in this case, food. The diversity of human stories – from the violinist granny who fled Nazi Germany to the Spanish materfamilias who was friends with Julia Child and Elizabeth David – are as rich as the food itself. And then, of course, there’s the other layer to this: that if they are not recorded now, some of these recipes may be lost forever. We hope that this is just the first book in an ongoing mission to rescue and record recipes for the generations to come – all presented to perfection.

Want to pledge? Amongst many rewards you can snap up the book along with some special ‘Grand Dishes’ jam, or book in a photo shoot for your granny. After all, yours is the best cook (and the best generally) in the world, right? Thought so.

By Nancy Alsop
June 2020


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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.