When three members of the Leica Forum, Steve Unsworth, Bill Palmer and Andy Barton, began discussing the idea of putting together a book to feature some of the wonderful photography featured on the forum, they had no idea the book would have the impact that it did. To date, 250 copies of the book have been sold, raising about £15,000 for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR). The latest fundraising effort was an auction of a special copy of the book with signatures of Herr Spiller, formerly of Leica Camera AG, and by Norman Barrett, Chief Executive of  AICR. In an act of luck, or karma, the winning bid was placed by Steve Unsworth. At last, Steve owned a copy of the book he had put so much work into making. We had a chance to talk with Steve about the success of this book as a fundraiser for AICR and plans for the next Leica User Forum Book.

Q: What inspired you to bid on the book?

A: That was simple, I wanted a copy of the book. I was out of work during most of the production of the book and while that allowed me to spend quite a bit of time on the preparation of the book, it meant that I didn’t have the disposable income to buy a copy of the book. When it was suggested that we auction a copy of the book I was working again, so rather than buy a copy of the book I decided to wait and bid for the signed copy. I was lucky and won the auction. Needless to say, if I had been beaten in the auction I would have bought a copy through Blurb.

Q: What are the goals this year for the book and/or charity?

A: The main goal was to raise as much money as possible for the chosen charity, AICR. I think the exercise did far better than any of us could have possibly have dreamed. Cancer is an illness that will touch most of us, either directly or indirectly, so I like to think that we have done something to help sufferers and their families. That is the measure of the true success of the book in my opinion.

Q: To date, what are the latest stats on funds raised and books sold?

A: To date we have sold around 250 books and raised about £15,000 for AICR. When we started the project I thought we might raise half of that, so once again it has vastly exceeded my expectations. I can only offer a profound and heartfelt thank you to all the people who contributed to making the book such a success. The biggest problem we face with the next book is matching that success. I know it’s something we are all acutely aware of and hopefully we will be able to at least raise as much money with the next book.

Q: Any new tidbits you’d like to share?

A: We are already discussing the format of the next book. Nothing has been decided for certain, but I have a feeling we will present the book in a slightly different format that will allow the book to be printed on Blurb’s premium paper. I expect we will still have one photograph per page, but we may reduce the total number of pages to allow purchasers to select the higher quality paper option. Also we are looking at ways of making more than one version of the book available. Perhaps having a smaller book as well as the full sized one. That would make life easier for people who wanted a copy, but didn’t want to but the more expensive version. The way Blurb’s pricing is structured means that we could raise the same amount of money for AICR regardless of which version of the book people bought. We are hoping to make an official announcement about the next book later in the year. Finally, can I just say a big thank you to all at Leica and Blurb for publicising the book. I think I’m speaking for everyone when I say that we really appreciate all of the blog articles and tweets that Leica wrote to keep the project in the public eye, not to mention the financial donations through actions such as the Twitter campaign. Also Blurb’s generous offer to make a donation to AICR for every copy sold has helped to increase the amount of money we have raised. We really are grateful for all the effort both companies have made.

-Leica Internet Team

To see some of Steve Unsworth’s work, please visit his website at http://www.steveunsworth.co.uk.

This post is part of the special ‘Leica for AICR’ series. To purchase the ‘Leica User Forum Book’, please click here. Proceeds benefit the UK-based Association for International Cancer Research (AICR).