Tao Lin - author, and apparent math maven - recently used his blog to sell off 6 shares of his as-yet-unpublished second novel (an earlier novel is pictured here). Each shareholder paid Mr. Lin $2000, and will receive 10% of the book's U.S. royalties. Lin has reasoned that the money up front will help fund the writing of the novel, and that the investors will put some effort into increasing his sales. His blog features a long justification for this move, as well as his ROI projections (This is the only economic term I know. Perhaps I'm even using it correctly?).

An interesting move, no? If I still haven't piqued your curiosity, consider this: you should read this treatise to admire his use of quotation marks alone. For example, he says:
Based on what I know about my publisher, myself, the book, and my other books I do not at all think that my second novel will "fail" the above projection.
And later:
My second novel is linear, focused on one relationship, and a "page turner," I think, though also rereadable. While writing it I have been focused on making it so that you both "need to see what happens next" and "can turn to any page and read it and feel interested."
I find these quotation marks to be somewhat "suspicious." But the economic model is apparently sound, given that Lin has now started a shareholder waiting list.

For a more interesting array of reactions (above and beyond the comments on the blog itself), see this op ed piece from the New York Times, which raises the question, "If the novel were invented today, would they all use Lin’s startup model?," and its companion piece which asks, "If Public Libraries Didn't Exist, Could You Start One Today?" The comments are just as interesting as the editorials themselves.