Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Announcements

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom 112

Rob from RPI writes "After a long wait, Cory Doctorow's first novel is out. If you're into SciFi, you've probably read some of his stories - a recent short of his on Salon.com (0wnz0red) was recently mentioned here. With a highly popular blog, and a good amount of Net-Clues, he's also doing a bit of groundbreaking with the release of this book. He's selling it, and, distributing it under a Creative Commons licence at the same time. You can download it in TXT, HTML and PDF here. It's a very good book, too 8-)"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Comments Filter:
  • Let's see... he's got the blog, online sellers, copies of it online in all the great formats, a blog, and even the desire to put it on P2P sharing services. Don't forget the /. post.

    Not many look to writing books for fun these days, perhaps I shall click on his advertisements to give him some support.
    • I suppose that if your server can take it, there's no better publicity than a /. post huh?

      sure beats tel-sell...

    • Just finished reading it. Pretty good short story. There were a few style issues I didn't care for too much, but then they might grow on me if I read it a couple more times. It had a rough amateurish quality to it that I liked (even though the author isn't an amateure). Think I'll go buy it now.

      Whuffie++ to the author for being different.

  • highly popular blog
    apparenlty a bit to popular right now:-)
  • ... he's also doing a bit of groundbreaking with the release of this book. He's selling it, and, distributing it under a Creative Commons licence at the same time. You can download it in TXT, HTML and PDF here.

    So he isn't getting raped by a publishing company? Thats a good thing, a friend and I talked about this type of thing yesturday...
  • Most science fiction (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Amsterdam Vallon ( 639622 ) <amsterdamvallon2003@yahoo.com> on Thursday January 09, 2003 @09:58AM (#5046678) Homepage
    Seems to use neither science nor fiction.

    I find that most stories I peruse contain such far-out "scientific principles" that the events that occur could never happen anywhere on this planet.

    Then again, some parts (even in Doctorow's 0wnz0red series) are simply stolen facts from things that have already happened and been talked about in the news.

    I find it ironic that the best new science fiction works are not science and barely contain any fiction.
    • by metlin ( 258108 )
      I had commented on exactly this in the previous mention of the 0wnz0red series here [slashdot.org].

      Offlate, good science fiction has become so very rare, more of Sci-fi and SF stuff (as some poster corrected me).

      I shall refrain from ranting, but if 0wnz0red is the best of modern science fiction that we can get today, its sad. Incidentally, I remember that Doctorow had mentioned it as just fiction, not science-fiction.

      *sigh* Hope springs eternal.
      • by schlach ( 228441 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @12:55PM (#5048049) Journal
        I can't figure out why the reaction to the 0wNz0red story in August was so bad on slashdot. I thought it was a very entertaining, enjoyable, and thought-provoking read, in the grande style of good science fiction.

        I think most of it was a reaction to the language, which strikes me as bizarre. This is how we think! Maybe shutter-geeks are intolerant of words coined after 1960, but I hate to tell you folks, look how many pieces of language we owe to Gibson's contribution.

        Check out Tales for the 1337 presents: Romeo & Juliet" [comedyconvoy.com]. That's funny shit, because of the way it illustrates how language is changing with the kids. Before you dismiss them as punks, remember that in ten years they'll be dismissing us as foges.

        It's always been the case that language is purely the spoken word, and that writing is only linguistically interesting in the sense that it helps us track the progress of language. That's not exactly what I mean, but close enough. Anyway, what's come to be known as '1337' (but I'll generalize as "chat colloquialisms" b/c ppl ph34r th4t w0rd) is the first time that writing is dictating language. kewl.

        When you find yourself saying - outloud - "bbl", or "brb", or "haxor, fuxor, suxor", or "warez, filez, skillz" in 'real life', you know you're part of the change. Hell, when I say "owned" wrt computer security, I know it's spelled with a zero. Writing is leading language in this case, unlike others, because within this particular group of people, writing has become the dominant communication medium. Otherwise, it would follow the same slang-path that you are probably more familiar with, like "cool", "sweet", "rock", etc, which progresses from within spoken circles to the dictionary in an orderly fashion.

        Quoth sirinek [slashdot.org],
        I'd like to thank the submitter of the story for calling it a "weblog" instead of some lame-ass made-up-for-the-sake-of-making-a-name-up name like a "blog" or a "wiki". :)

        I'm sure I'm not alone in my praise :)

        He's right, he's not alone. But I'm not with him. I have a blog. I blog things on my blog. This comment will probably be blogged in some shape or form. And I'm thinking about starting a wiki for a different project. 'Wiki' is the only word there is for a wiki. The only way I can think of to avoid using it is to not think about the idea that 'wiki' represents ... which just seems faulty.

        Interrobang [slashdot.org],
        It's nice to see someone play with language, and it's nice to see someone who apparently knows a little bit of something (instead of a whole lot of nothing) about computers writing speculative fiction, for a change. Or don't you guys get a little bit annoyed about totally impossible (instead of wildly improbable) computers (and/or technology) in speculative fiction?

        Aren't we progressive? Aren't we adaptive? I've got a lot of hope [slashdot.org] riding on this generation of geeks, to look forward to the future, optimizing the world, if you will... I shudder to think that, underneath it all, we geeks think that our own language and the way we think should be constant and unchanging throughout our (adult) lives...
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Preaching to the choir, half of whom are asleep and the other half can't sing. The pews are empty. You GO, boy.
        • Okay before I go ahead, I'll admit to one thing - I have been brought up in a very Indo-British style background, hence my opinions could be a reflection of that.

          I've grown to appreciate literature which a significant segment of the Slashdot would perhaps consider, well, unconventional, and perhaps even archaic.


          I thought it was a very entertaining, enjoyable, and thought-provoking read, in the grande style of good science fiction.


          But that is not everything! You are forgetting one thing - a merely descriptive work, with certain figments of the contemporary Hacker Culture thrown in does not constitute good science fiction.

          I can still read HG Wells or Jules Verne and be awed. If you look at true classics, they would not be descriptive, indeed, they would consist little of that, and a lot to do with how people react to technology. How the various societies and cultures would perchance evolve.

          The reason why Asimov's Foundation series strikes a chord with most people is not because he was able to portray futuristic technology. The reason was because his descriptions were based on realistic societies. For example, the Solarians reflect the Ancient Japanese culture, the fear against Robots is something that reflected the world in general at that time - fear of technology.

          Let us look at Frank Herbert. How often does he talk technology? Almost nowhere, he discusses PEOPLE and cultures, in a setting that could almost be here on Earth. His references are based on real cultures, and that is all he talks about. Let alone Dune, even the lesser known works of Herbert like The Jesus Incident follow this pattern.

          I urge you to read Arthur C Clarke's The Star, if you have not already done so. He hardly talks technology. He talks how PEOPLE REACT to science. To technology. And why!

          Technology Augments! Please remember that it is not the end, it is just a means.

          This is true for all the great writers - they realise that technology sounds all nice and good, but for someone who is familiar with it, there will not be much fascination. A poster above suggested Vonnegut - that is so very true. It does not set your thought processes into motion in the same way an analytical description of the future would.


          Writing is leading language in this case, unlike others, because within this particular group of people, writing has become the dominant communication medium. Otherwise, it would follow the same slang-path that you are probably more familiar with, like "cool", "sweet", "rock", etc, which progresses from within spoken circles to the dictionary in an orderly fashion.


          That is incorrect. Complex written linguistic expressions seldom make it to the spoken language, although the other way might be true. A significant percentage of Celtic lanaguges, as well as those from South America have had significantly varied writings, which have been preserved for the sake of posterity, but otherwise are confined to just that.

          Historically, linguistic evolution from a niche group to the many is unlikely, especially given the fact that it demands addition of expressions and language external to the group. Else, we would all be learning English with Umlauts and perhaps a dozen other addendums.

          Let us leave that alone for a while. Coming to Blogs and Wikis. Yes, I fully agree with Sirinek. Why should I go on to coin another word, when weblog is so very descriptive and serves the purpose? The trouble is, opinions would swing either way, and this is more of one's choice rather than that of language.

          And oh, being an NLP & Data-mining researcher, I would pay a penny to shoot dead every damn guy who would use such fancy words and trouble us :-)

          What made William Gibson special was that his use of language was creative, not hackneyed. Jack out is such an expression - it fits the context perfectly. Cyberspace? Wintermute? Given the storyline, it blended in very well, and more than anything it was a change. His world was reminiscent of those by Philip K Dick, and used technology to AUGMENT! More than that, you would notice that he had again talked of PEOPLE reacting to technology, and more than that, how TECHNOLOGY(!) reacted to people.

          For that matter, take Eric S Nylund's Signal to Noise. So wonderfully written, lots of technology, but again it is HOW people react, how things happen and WHY! That is essential.

          Where has the style of writing that used to induce thinking gone? I do not want technology, I can read scientific literature if I were on the lookout for that. I do not need a rundown on the contemporary culture that I'm a part of. I need inspiration, I need to think!

          To Think. I wonder where that generation of writers have gone.

          • Responding in the general to your science fiction argument -> "I guess so." You've got valid points, but you're comparing a short story to novels. I dunno, I find myself enjoying many different kinds of things, and I'm sure that if Cory was going to expand his short story into a novel, he'd concentrate much more on the characters than the description. You'll find that a lot. Wasn't Johnny Mnemonic in a similar way?

            As for language... I think we're disagreeing about the same thing.

            That is incorrect. Complex written linguistic expressions seldom make it to the spoken language, although the other way might be true.

            That's exactly what I'm saying. That's always the way it's been, which is why the modern case is a departure from the norm.

            Historically, linguistic evolution from a niche group to the many is unlikely, especially given the fact that it demands addition of expressions and language external to the group

            Well, I would argue that most of "historically" is human pre-history. Less glib, and more recently, advances in mass-communication have made it much more likely that expressions used by a small external group are adopted by others. Example: kwyjibo [google.com]. Google returns 4120 hits. This is a "word" that was made up by a fictional character and used once on a single episode... and has entered the lexicon of Simpsons watchers, which includes our entire community. Fascinating. Otherwise, look at the French efforts to prevent English from "corrupting" their language, ala Spanglish. And even the words I cited, like "cool", and "rock n' roll", and "hip hop", so much slang originates from a small hip or urban group and is distributed through media channels... shouldn't be a surprise. How much of your vocab wasn't in your parents' dictionary? Your grandparents'?

            And oh, being an NLP & Data-mining researcher, I would pay a penny to shoot dead every damn guy who would use such fancy words and trouble us :-)

            I'm guessing the Linguists you work with don't agree...

            • Responding in the general to your science fiction argument -> "I guess so." You've got valid points, but you're comparing a short story to novels.


              I would not say that, a lot of good short stories have been instrumental in becoming novels in the days to come. Take Asimov, Clarke, David Zindell... their futre works were based on the short stories that they started their careers with.

              I dunno, I find myself enjoying many different kinds of things, and I'm sure that if Cory was going to expand his short story into a novel, he'd concentrate much more on the characters than the description.

              I think I come across as someonewho is not too fond of Cory :-) That is not the case, he is a wonderful writer, but just that I diagree with his style of writing.

              If Cory can pull it off, more power to him! What more can I say?


              That's exactly what I'm saying. That's always the way it's been, which is why the modern case is a departure from the norm.


              A little too early to say, isn't it?

              Besides, I do agree with your factoid of certain words getting adopted. I have in fact written a paper on this particular phenomenon - consider medireview and anyways. Both these are such examples, too.


              I'm guessing the Linguists you work with don't agree...

              Well, I'd not blame them! :-P
              • And oh, being an NLP & Data-mining researcher, I would pay a penny to shoot dead every damn guy who would use such fancy words and trouble us :-)

                Haha. From your journal [slashdot.org]:
                Oh well, discovered this new Slashdot journal thingy! Isn't it amazing? Umm.. now you can expect to see some bloggish journal entries in here.
                Check. And. Mate. =)

                Bloggish? I don't think I've ever heard that use of "blog" before. You just make that up? ; )
                It works? It works! It works! It works!
                Indeed it does, my friend, indeed it does...
    • rather than just sitting there like a turd on a log, belching out criticism, write your own novel. otherwise, stop your croaking.
    • by nEoN nOoDlE ( 27594 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @12:23PM (#5047808) Homepage
      as Kurt Vonnegut once said (paraphrased), good science fiction writers don't know anything about science. Personally, I would agree with him since Vonnegut is my favorite writer and I read science fiction not for the scientific facts, but for the writers interpretation of the "human condition" with perhaps the future or some crazy invention thrown in as a plot device. If I wanted a view of the future, I'd read science journals.
      • you'd be better off looking into a crystal ball.
        just off hand where are the fusion power plants? right where they were before in space really far away.
        the only way to see the future is wake up tomorrow and see it for yourself as it unravels into the present. Sci-fi books are no better at predicting the future than science journals. joules vernes, HG wells both have some stories that mirror the capabilities of modern technology. and yet they're not really showing the future.
        Just as george orwells vision of the future in 1984 is vagualy similar to corperate america, except he got the economics wrong, as well as a few other minor points. he nailed the 'picking an enemy this month' thing on the head, although we tend to invent wars on things rather than specific targets eg: war on drugs, or terrorism. so they never really have to end.
  • why would i buy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bje2 ( 533276 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:01AM (#5046704)
    first off, i remember when slashdot posted his short story "0wnz0red" [salon.com], and i really enjoyed reading it...

    secondly, not that i'm saying i'm cheap or anything, but why would i go buy the book, when i just downloaded the pdf for free?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      i don't know. maybe you get halfway through reading the pdf, and need a book to go on holiday with.

      also. you could repay him by telling your friends how good it was (I'm assuming it's good here ;-). Not all of them are gonna be so cheapskate they're prepared to read a pdf.

      finally, who says you'll want to read his second novel this way?
      • "i don't know. maybe you get halfway through reading the pdf, and need a book to go on holiday with."

        well, first of all, it's a 67 page PDF file, it looks like each PDF page is two actual pages, so, the book overall is about 134 pages...not very long by normal "book" standarads...

        in any case, as for taking it on holiday, or somewhere else with you...well, it's a "printable pdf", they even advertise it as that on the download page...i can print and take it with me anywhere i want...

        i did enjoy the "0wnz0red" story, and i'll probably like this one...problem is, most of my friends are non-techies, and i doubt would find the same interest in the stories (assuming this one is similiarly geared towarads techies as 0wnz0red was)...none the less, i really enjoyed his writing the first time...
        • Re:why would i buy? (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          in any case, as for taking it on holiday, or somewhere else with you...well, it's a "printable pdf", they even advertise it as that on the download page...i can print and take it with me anywhere i want...

          That is true, but there is a certain something to be said for buying a bound book instead of making your printer grind out 67 loose pages.
          • by bje2 ( 533276 )
            true, when you consider printer ink, printer paper, etc, the book might end up being cheaper after all...but then again, i can just print it out at work, and do away with all that overhead for me...
            • You could download the itsy-bitsy Palm PDB version and read it wherever you go without having to lug around a microforest!

              That's freakin' genius, you ask me. In the Beginning was a good read too, and I think it's because I could read it on my Visor that I've enjoyed reading it over and over whenever the mood strikes me. On the bus, waiting in the line at the bank, over dinner... I love it.
              • assuming you're serious about having read a book on your Visor, how much text could actually fit on one screen?, i mean, it seems like it could get pretty annoying having to scroll down after every two sentences or someting like that...
    • by Erasmus Darwin ( 183180 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:13AM (#5046777)
      "why would i go buy the book, when i just downloaded the pdf for free?"

      For the same reason that you'd go see a concert of a band that allows you to trade bootlegs of their concerts. The content may be the same, but the presentation of the for-pay version is in a format that is usually considered more desirable.

      • For the same reason that you'd go see a concert of a band that allows you to trade bootlegs of their concerts.

        Why would I do that in the first place if I know they're just gonna make a big move later on to stop file sharing [metallica.com] after they're successful?

        • Because you don't know they'll do that until after the fact, obviously.

          Or are you trying to say that you suspect Cory will do something similar? If so, you're not thinking this through very well.
          • No, actually I was trolling. :)

            I don't know anything about Cory, I just felt that his example was a tad contrived. One thing that has been demonstrated time and time again, especially with people that work in entertainment, is that success corrupts. A band (or an author) that starts out with high ideals frequently drops them later on when they're looking a huge chunk of cash in the face. When a band (or an author) is able to resist the cash and keeps their ideals, it is the EXCEPTION and NOT the rule.

            I don't know enough about Cory to even be able to take a guess that I would feel good about taking, but I remain cynical. I'm also cynical that both RedHat and Mandrake will continue to offer free download versions of their OSs. I'm a cynic. :)

            • Re:why would i buy? (Score:2, Informative)

              by entrippy ( 14141 )
              Well, at least this book has been distributed under the Creative Commons licence, which means it's never coming out of the public domain (well, the specific public domain in which it exists, anyhow). This sort of licence (and the opensource licences that Redhat et al operate under) are great for ensuring exactly what you fear doesn't occur - ie, free things becoming non-free due to greed after success.

              And yes, I knew you were trolling. You just happened to also be talking out your arse, so I brought you up on it.
              • Well, at least this book has been distributed under the Creative Commons licence, which means it's never coming out of the public domain (well, the specific public domain in which it exists, anyhow). This sort of licence (and the opensource licences that Redhat et al operate under) are great for ensuring exactly what you fear doesn't occur - ie, free things becoming non-free due to greed after success.

                It's not uncommon to offer the first hit(s) for free, and charge later. I'm talking about free as in speech, here. :) In fact, it's a common marketing tactic, so its easy to justify even after the fact. And not entirely a bad tactic, either. In fact, he could get a large audience this way and then take some new work to a publisher and say "It's a guaranteed revenue stream, now give me exactly what I want and nothing else." and have some backing from a tested market.

                Then he would have works out that are not free anymore, and he would be in a position to go after anybody who turns around and "pirates" them.

                The specific band I referred to did exactly that, even with the after-the-fact justifications and the explanations about how it was different than what they had allowed.

                And yes, I knew you were trolling. You just happened to also be talking out your arse, so I brought you up on it.

                not talking out of my ass, just speaking my mind. :) That is what these forums are for, right?

                • Speaking your mind? What the forums are for? God, no!

                  Well, okay, yes.

                  My point is - does it matter to you if he writes further non-free work and makes some money out of it? This book is free - and that's what you were promised. At no point did he say "Everything I do for the rest of my life will be free, even if it turns out I'm taking a massive hit on potential profits for my future livelyhood as an author."

                  Don't condemn people for the (actually quite reasonable) steps they may or may not take in the future when they're doing the right thing now. More than the right thing, in fact - blazing a trail for others to do the right thing.

                  It's like saying "Well, yes Linus developed Linux, but one day he might work for Microsoft - that sucks! Steer clear of Linux!"
                  • My point is - does it matter to you if he writes further non-free work and makes some money out of it? This book is free - and that's what you were promised. At no point did he say "Everything I do for the rest of my life will be free, even if it turns out I'm taking a massive hit on potential profits for my future livelyhood as an author."

                    Simple answer: No it does not matter to me.

                    Don't condemn people for the (actually quite reasonable) steps they may or may not take in the future when they're doing the right thing now. More than the right thing, in fact - blazing a trail for others to do the right thing.

                    I wasn't condemning the author, I was pointing out to the poster of the comment to which I was replying that he hasn't done anything new--yet. If he continues this way and dedicates his life to writing in this fashion, sure. He's broken ground then. The license itself is a bit unique, but not really new. I've taken poetry and crap from kids standing on the street corner "trying to get their name out so a publisher will notice them". What's the difference here, besides that it's offered electronically?

                    It's like saying "Well, yes Linus developed Linux, but one day he might work for Microsoft - that sucks! Steer clear of Linux!"

                    Not exactly, because *if* LInus goes to work for Microsoft (or some other company that makes him stop working on GPLd stuff), we will have the very last version of the kernel before he left the project to *continue developing*. We just won't have linus anymore. Authoring and making music (these are both in the discussion as a result of the post to which I originally replied) are different than software development. Someone else can write a Sherlock Holmes story, but it won't be the same as reading something from SIr Arthur Conan Doyle. The style will be different, no matter how good an imitator he is. With Free Software, we can keep working on the code. With Free Novels, we have to depend on him to make his *next* novel free.

                    And as you pointed out, we can't expect that. Furthermore, as I said, I don't know anything about the author we're actually discussing. AMong the things I don't know: I don't know if he has made a big public to-do about how he writes his stuff and it's Free (as in speech) for the readers. I don't know if he's said that he intends to keep writing stuff and making it available under this license. If he has, then my comments are a real concern. If not, then it may well be his intention to change his model around when he can attract a publisher's attention.

                    Just keep in mind I wasn't condemning the author, because I don't know anything about the author (I haven't even read one of his stories). I was replying to a post that seemed to indicate some sort of celebration over an author adopting this type of licensing, but I hadn't yet read anything about the author adopting it. It appears to me that he has just used it, but has made no commitment to continue using it. So there doesn't appear to me to be a commitment to celebrate.

      • That must be the most ridiculous comparison I have ever heard. There is a world of difference between attending a live performance and listening to the CD. The difference between reading a bound book and a bunch of printouts is minimal.

        Giving away free copies is a great way to gain some publicity. It is also a noble cause. But I'll bet diamonds to dumplings that it's a short-term money pit. Do it until you've made a name for yourself and then start publishing the old fashioned way.
      • Heck, I've got to say it, some of you guys are so stingy!!!

        "why would i go buy the book, when i just downloaded the pdf for free?"

        Well to start with, at the moment I cannot afford to buy books as I'm on a benifit due to a break down: but reading is one of my greatest loves, and hence is therapeutic for me, so I need books to read, so what do I do. The loverly folks at Baen books [baen.com] let people download stuff free, so I get to read lots of loverly scifi & fantasy (my favorite's), so how do I feel about them, well would you believe it Grateful, so what will I do when I'm back in the work force, you've got it buy those awsesome books.

        Other reasons for buying those books,

        • A physical book is just nicer than one on my box.
        • I'm not a stingy bugger like some of you.
        • I believe in rewarding people for doing good.
          (same as I intend to reward my open source brothers/sisters by writting OSS, [all true open sourcers should contribute some how, some time.])
    • For that matter, why wouldn't I buy the book, when the dead-tree edition would probably reach me quicker than the free download on the slashdotted server? :)
    • Because you want to take your old-fashioned dead trees to the park and read them underneath the living ones. As much of a techie addict as I am, I just can't bring myself to haul a laptop to someplace as nice as a park.

      -madgeorge

      • again, i could just print out the pdf if i wanted to haul a "dead tree" edition down to the park...granted, it's not as nice as a boud copy, but still...
      • You should take the laptop. If we want to see old ways of life continue we need to make them relevant in our new lives. Laptops aren't going to go away, or cell-phones, or PDAs. If we don't integrate them into our nature experience it's the nature experience that'll go away.

        Reading a book, on a laptop, under a tree, is as much better than reading it, on a laptop, on a couch, as it would be for a paper book. If the paper book is worth the trip to the part, so is the e-book. And if you get tired of reading, you can play GTA3 on the laptop. Try doing that on the paper book! You just get inkstains everywhere.
    • by WNight ( 23683 )
      Because part of being a useful member of society is taking responsibility. If you wish to see the series continue, take responsibility for a part of that and help finance it.

      It's not a theft issue or anything, the author isn't harmed by you reading it. You have no obligation to pay, otherwise it wouldn't have been a gift, it'd have been a guilt-trip. But stand up and be counted. If you like something, make sure it keeps happening.

      Support the author. If you don't want the book (and someone who doesn't re-read them probably wouldn't) then just send what you think is a fair price (a buck or two probably is more profit than he'd see from an actual sale) through paypal. Then pass the e-book on to someone else who might like it.

      Personally, I wouldn't buy the book (in paper form anyways). Paper is becoming more and more obsolete. I read on the computer with preference to paper. When I re-read 1984 I did it on the computer, when I read the last honor-harrington novels, I read them on the computer instead of from the hard-copy book I had. I like having Baen books on CD though, and if the price of that is to buy a little obsolete paper every now and then, so be it.
    • You might want to say, "Hey, man, right on, kudos!" and support him with some money. (Heck, you don't even have to buy the book to do that; you could probably paypal him a few bucks and say it's pay-back in lieu of buying the book.) Or you might simply like the book enough that you want to have a professional-looking dead-tree version to stick on your shelf, or to lend to someone who doesn't like reading electronically and wouldn't understand being handed a bound printout.

      You probably find it hard to conceive of paying for something you could get for free, but not everybody does...not by a long-shot. In fact, as I mentioned in this comment [slashdot.org], doing something quite similar [baen.com] has worked wonders for Baen [baen.com]. Blockquoth Jim Baen:
      Baen has experienced a mysterious 50% increase in gross dollar sales in the previous year. Also, our "sellthrough" (percentage of books placed in the market that sell to end-point customers) has improved from the rather startling 63% to the truly stunning 74%. I'm tentatively blamiing this on my wacko e-net proclivities. (Insert a Crazy Eddie ad pastiche here)
      People who prefer print books but wouldn't otherwise look at Baen's titles in the store are taking free ganders (or even buying the e-versions [webscription.net] first!), reading for long enough that they like it, and going out to place an order. Judging from what he says on the linked page and in the introduction to the free e-version of his book, Doctorow seems to be hoping that much the same thing will happen to him...and who's to say that it won't?
    • secondly, not that i'm saying i'm cheap or anything, but why would i go buy the book, when i just downloaded the pdf for free?

      Good question. Also, why not just go to the library then?

      There are a number of reasons people buy books

      • Convienence. A PDF is about as convienent as having a book on microfilm.
      • Incentive for Reading. Having purchased a book gives a nagging feeling to a person that they should read it.
      • Showing off. Sure I'm never going to read that Proust box set or the new translation of Tale of Genji, but they look great on a bookshelf.
    • "Downloading a novel from the net is not something I'd ever likely do myself, but mainly because reading novels on the screen of a PDA is something I might get into only if I were incarcerated, with no alternative. ... You could have sex relatively comfortably on a platform of books, but not on a platform of PDA's. Hardcover books. Paperbacks might start sliding around. Though I'd still prefer paperbacks to a pile of PDA's." -- William Gibson [williamgibsonbooks.com]
    • because Whuffie doesn't exist yet. Karma won't buy you a beer, according to my local Tavern owner.
  • by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <research@aceretail.com> on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:04AM (#5046721)
    When this was a physical magazine, it was one of the most fun, intelligent and readable cyber magazines ever. I bought my copies at the short lived Binary Cafe in Toronto (three computers on dialup to the net...) - and now I can't find them.

    Kind of like Mondo 2000, Wired and National Lampoon (jeez - anyone here remember when those were good?) all rolled into one. Now it's a web site and a HECK of a mail list.

    Highly recommended and I'm looking forward to DLing the book. (As soon as the /. effect ends.)

    • Kind of like Mondo 2000 ... (jeez - anyone here remember when those were good?)
      Didn't Mondo 2000 begin life under the name Reality Hackers? I remember it as being sort of a cross between the Conde-Nast version of Wired (which, of course, didn't exist yet) and the text files from some warez BBS. They were on glossy paper and had full-page ads for cellular automata software from Autodesk (!). The end result of technology was, apparently, that you were going to be able to plug something into your brain so that your life could be like an acid trip, forever.
  • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:08AM (#5046743) Homepage
    Got his little chapbook right here, signed even. And if you flip though the pages, the donkey changes into a boy, or is that the other way around?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:11AM (#5046763)
    I thought the Magic Kingdom was the happiest place on earth? If you cry Mickey will give you free gifts.

    • According to the author, theme parks are one on his obsessions, along with boredom thresholds and transhumans.

      What Disney doesn't tell you about is all the kids who disappear there after a haircut and change of clothes. Walt wasn't frozen, he's undead and hungry! For more proof, search here [miningco.com]

    • I thought the Magic Kingdom was the happiest place on earth?

      My kids once accompanied a friend, who is blind, to a convention near Disney Land. One member of the party also had other physical problems that made it difficult to walk and was constantly falling down. His demeanor was such that he would refuse all offers of assistance and grumpily told people to leave the blind, fat, crippled man alone. In fact, the only way he said anything was 'grumpily'. He was aware of his reputation for grmupiness and played it up at every opportunity.

      There was one day set aside during the convention to go to Disneyland. Having fallen down several times on the way to the park and bellowing out his protests to all within earshot, the entire party lost it when he fell down in front of the sign stating that this was "The Happiest Place on Earth" and he began to roll around and shout, "I HATE this place!"
  • Site holding up well (Score:2, Interesting)

    by karrde ( 853 )
    Supprisingly, while the click to page view is a little slow, the site is holding well under the strain. And my d/l of the book screamed. Someone was ready :)

    Started reading the prolouge on the screen, but just decided to print it out. Starting out as a neat story. Although the continued lack of specifics might drive me nuts.
  • by Tyler Eaves ( 344284 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:26AM (#5046855)
    Grab it at Mirrored on an OC3 [cg1.org]
  • Intelligent linking (Score:4, Informative)

    by muyuubyou ( 621373 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @10:33AM (#5046903)
    If you look at the link, it's http://www.craphound.com/down/ [craphound.com]

    Yep, that's exactly how it is, "down".
  • IIRC the slashdot crowd or at least the ones modded 2+ hated his short story on salon. I thought it was ok, though a bit contrived. I'm all for a new sci-fi author getting his works out, and his distribution methods seem very /. friendly; I still have to wonder if the content is all that good though. Guess I'll be reading it myself.
    sigh.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I still have to wonder if the content is all that good though. Guess I'll be reading it myself.

      sigh.
      Yeah, it sucks to have to think for yourself instead of defering to the slashdot hivemind.
  • I converted the text file over to TealDoc format for easy reading on the Palm. Enjoy.

    http://www.mit.edu/~dmark/palm/ [mit.edu]

    • I converted the text file over to TealDoc format for easy reading on the Palm. Enjoy.

      THAT'S how we get electronic books and read them in the park or on vacation without killing trees. :) (I'm ignoring the effects of electronic devices on the environment in order to make this blatantly tree-loving post)

  • P2P download (Score:3, Informative)

    by mlinksva ( 1755 ) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @11:08AM (#5047177) Homepage Journal
    Tickets below list MAGNET (some gnutella clinets), ed2k and fasttrack links:
  • who noticed the first (0wnz0r3d) book sucked? Just think about the premise for a second: suddenly it's possible to completely manipulate human phsysiology on every level, not because of some miracle scientific advancement but simply because programmers with little to no medical knowledge get a crack at it?
    Oh No! better watch out or those 1337 h4x0rs will hack into your DNA and turn you into a flying monkey!
  • Technically, Baen already broke the ground. Hey, they've given away an entire CD-ROM of books [stack.nl], under the same terms. Granted, they didn't use a specific license, but it says right there on the disk that you're allowed to copy and share but not sell its contents.

    It sure is nice to see Doctorow jumping on the bandwagon, though.
  • Finished reading "Down and Out", and it's pretty good. Not brilliant or classic or anything like that, but more than good enough that I'd be willing to pay for the dead-tree version, even though it's pretty short (67 pages). It's got a very nice, twisted sense of humor, definately worth the read.
  • by Schnapple ( 262314 ) <tomkidd@noSPAm.viatexas.com> on Thursday January 09, 2003 @03:07PM (#5048994) Homepage
    I see lots of interesting possibilities if this "thing" catches on.

    It would appear that the publishing industry and the recording industry are similar in that they are difficult to get into and tend to "stiff" new artists/authors. Of course the recording industry is difficult to get into because they're looking for the next 18-24 year old Britney Spears clone and the publishing industry is difficult to get into unless your work has something that will sell (for sci-fi your works these days either have to be attached to a franchise or be militaristic in nature).

    The main difference, as far as I can see, is that this author and, say, Bruce Eckel, is that they also publish their works through major book publishers. There's lots of websites wherein you can download the entire CD of a small artist, usually the ones who press their own albums on CD-R. But as soon as these guys sign to a major record label, this practice goes away. How it is that TOR is allowing Doctrow to do this is beyond me. No way would they let Robert Jordan release Wheel of Time 10 this way.

    But something occured to me - this is a book that's like 136 pages (though Amazon says the hardcover is 208). And it's being published in hardcover for $22.95. That's more than most DVD's or CD's. You can usually pick it up for less than that, but doesn't that seem a little pricey to anyone else? I know that hardcover first issue books are steep, like $29.95 for Wheel of Time 10, but that's a 700 page book whose target audience is rabid about it. Shouldn't a 136 page hardcover book be a little cheaper?

    Even better question - how come no one complains about this? People complain about the price of a lot of things - CD's, DVD's, Movies, etc. but they never complain about the price of books. Of course you can download your music if you really want to, you can wait for the movie to hit DVD, you can download the DivX of the movie/DVD if you can find it, and the DVD is loaded down with extras so you don't feel jipped. Could uneasy accessibility to books in digital form be the reason no one complains about their prices?

    And what will this do to the mix? Will authors release their material this way in the future in the hopes that being noticed will land them a book deal so they can sell copies to all of those who want a keepsake of something they read for free? Will this guy sell a ton of copies of this book because he was on a Slashdot story? Will this work on a fiction document (Eckel's works are programming books)?

    Can the recording industry learn a thing or two from the publishing industry? Or is it the other way around? And whose cause does it help if the Slashdot community buys a ton of this book?

    • The reason nobody complains about the cost of hardbound books is because there are LIBRARIES. You can go to a library, borrow a book, read it and returning it without paying a cent to anybody. The author was compensated just on the purchase of the book from the library.

      RIAA wants to charge you for every time that you listen to a song.
    • Actually, they do complain [salon.com]. Funny thing is, though...
      Nonetheless, for those who remember the 1970s, the escalation in prices does appear substantial. Figures obtained from R.R. Bowker, the company of record for information about the publishing industry, show that, from 1975 to 2000, the price of the average hardcover book of fiction went up 200 percent to $24.96. Average prices for hardcover poetry and drama books increased 211 percent to $33.57. Nonfiction hardcovers went up 123 percent to $40.29. The largest increase was in the juvenile category, which climbed 227 percent to arrive at the current average of $18.40.


      Still, adjust these figures for inflation and you get a different story, says Robert Sahr, an associate professor of political science at Oregon State University who studies media coverage of complex matters such as budgeting and economic policies. He found that the cost of hardcover fiction in real dollars had actually gone down 2 percent, while poetry and drama and juvenile categories had risen only a few percentage points. Nonfiction hardcovers had decreased in real price by 27 percent.
      As for whether authors will release their books this way in the hope of getting "noticed" by a traditional publisher...well, it's already happened, a few times. It's even happened recently, what with John Scalzi's Old Man's War [scalzi.com] having been picked up by Tor--the very same publisher who's publishing Doctorow's Magic Kingdom--after being posted online. (Though ironically, it's now been removed from the website since Tor's picked it up.) But I think that overall, the chances of such a thing happening are really infinitessimal. After all, how many people who've posted their stuff on the Internet haven't been picked up for publication? I know I haven't.
  • It's called Karma, dude.
  • Just read it, and I liked it.

    Felt kinda bad for the guy, I was in the exact same situation he was in with Lil. Girl I was with, good friend, you see where that goes.

    Story got to me, very well written though.

"The identical is equal to itself, since it is different." -- Franco Spisani

Working...