Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



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

Doctorow and Stross Release Latest Novels for Free 236

FleaPlus writes "Two prominent science fiction authors have recently released their newest novels as free downloads to coincide with their in-store releases. The first is Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, by Cory Doctorow. This is an unconventional story about an entrepreneur (who happens to be the child of a mountain and a washing machine) who gets involved in a scheme to blanket Toronto with free wireless mesh network, among other things. The second is Accelerando, by Charles Stross, which tells the tale of three generations of the Macx family (beginning with perptually-slashdotted venture altruist Manfred Macx) in the years leading up to and beyond a technological singularity."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Doctorow and Stross Release Latest Novels for Free

Comments Filter:
  • DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by md81544 ( 619625 ) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @05:47AM (#13061462) Homepage
    I love the section about DRM that Cory Doctorow has included in the preamble to the book:
    DRM

    The worst technology idea since the electrified nipple-clamp is "Digital Rights Management," a suite of voodoo products that are supposed to control what you do with information after you lawfully acquire it. When you buy a DVD abroad and can't watch it at home because it's from the wrong "region," that's DRM. When you buy a CD and it won't rip on your computer, that's DRM. When you buy an iTune and you can't loan it to a friend, that's DRM.

    DRM doesn't work. Every file ever released with DRM locks on it is currently available for free download on the Internet. You don't need any special skills to break DRM these days: you just have to know how to search Google for the name of the work you're seeking.

    No customer wants DRM. No one woke up this morning and said, "Damn, I wish there was a way to do less with my books, movies and music."

    DRM can't control copying, but it can control competition. Apple can threaten to sue Real for making Realmedia players for the iPod on the grounds that Real had to break Apple DRM to accomplish this. The cartel that runs licensing for DVDs can block every new feature in DVDs in order to preserve its cushy business model (why is it that all you can do with a DVD you bought ten years ago is watch it, exactly what you could do with it then -- when you can take a CD you bought a decade ago and turn it into a ringtone, an MP3, karaoke, a mashup, or a file that you send to a friend?).

    DRM is used to silence and even jail researchers who expose its flaws, thanks to laws like the US DMCA and Europe's EUCD.

    In case there's any doubt: I hate DRM. There is no DRM on this book. None of the books you get from this site have DRM on them. If you get a DRMed ebook, I urge you to break the locks off it and convert it to something sensible like a text file.

    If you want to read more about DRM, here's a talk I gave to Microsoft on the subject:
    http://craphound.com/msftdrm.txt [craphound.com]
    and here's a paper I wrote for the International Telecommunications Union about DRM and the developing world:
    http://www.eff.org/IP/DRM/itu_drm.php [eff.org]
    • Re:DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kotku ( 249450 )
      DRM doesn't work. Every file ever released with DRM locks on it is currently available for free download on the Internet. You don't need any special skills to break DRM these days: you just have to know how to search Google for the name of the work you're seeking.

      DRM does work. It doesn't have to work all the time. As long as it is still easier to purchased DRM'd stuff than search for cracked stuff on the internet there will still be sales of it and people will make money. People here kid themselves that
      • Re:DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:07AM (#13061506) Homepage
        I think what is meant is that DRM doesn't stop people who want to get the media illegally AT ALL, it only inconveniences their customers.

        You say a protection scheme works for a short while. With the latest protection schemes, they were hacked within a few days; most people wouldn't even have had the time to buy the player yet.

        So for the benefit of just a few days of additional income, DRM inconveniences all paying customers for the rest of the DRM's existence.

        DRM doesn't work since nobody who matters benefits, not the companies nor the paying customers.
        • Re:DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

          by kotku ( 249450 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:16AM (#13061531) Journal
          I think what is meant is that DRM doesn't stop people who want to get the media illegally AT ALL

          Maybe it doesn't stop a core of people who know how to apply the patches, upgrade thier firmware or browse warez sites but there are plenty of people who wouldn't have a clue. These are the people the content providers have to muddle to keep them in the shops and they are the majority. It doesn't have to be impossible just inconvienient.

          • ``I think what is meant is that DRM doesn't stop people who want to get the media illegally AT ALL

            Maybe it doesn't stop a core of people who know how to apply the patches, upgrade thier firmware or browse warez sites but there are plenty of people who wouldn't have a clue. These are the people the content providers have to muddle to keep them in the shops and they are the majority. It doesn't have to be impossible just inconvienient.''

            Err... You kind of lost me there. The people who get things illegally
          • Maybe it doesn't stop a core of people who know how to apply the patches, upgrade thier firmware or browse warez sites but there are plenty of people who wouldn't have a clue.

            You're missing the point. They don't need a clue -- they can just nab a copy from someone else who does.

            See Microsoft's Darknet paper.
          • Re:DRM (Score:2, Interesting)

            QUOTE from Cory Doctorow's talk to Microsoft's Research group about DRM : Raise your hand if you're thinking something like, "But DRM doesn't have to be proof against smart attackers, only average individuals! It's like a speedbump!" Put your hand down. This is a fallacy for two reasons: one technical, and one social. They're both bad for society, though.
            Here's the technical reason: I don't need to be a cracker to break your DRM. I only need to know how to search Google, or Kazaa, or any of the oth
            • "At the end of the day, the user DRM is meant to defend against is the most unsophisticated and least capable among us."

              Exactly! And these are EXACTLY the people who go and buy the legal stuff ANYWAY!

              Which makes DRM just a way to raise costs on the product to justify a higher price tag ("See! Those pirates forced us to triple our profit margin!") It's like the oil companies - "Oh, woe is us! There's no oil left! We have to triple our profits this year!"

              Makes you wonder if the RIAA is the one doing all t
          • But here's the problem: unless your technology explicitly precludes the possibility of freely redistributed content, it doesn't matter that only a few people will break the DRM. They just find the right off-shore host to upload it to and suddenly anyone in the world can download it and play it without having to repeat the process themselves.

      • Re:DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AliasMoze ( 623272 )
        On the other hand, Doctorow has had success in the past by making books available in print and via free download. His success flies in the face of the assumption that downloads kill sales. That's what much of the anti-downloading argument hinges on, isn't it, an assumption? What if that assumption is wrong?
        • Re:DRM (Score:2, Insightful)

          by kotku ( 249450 )
          I'd still pay for a paper book over a download just for the ability to sit in the sun on a deck chair with it. If E-book readers approach the quality, feel and experience of paper books I'm sure the assumption will hold just fine.
          • The books are also available at HTML and PDF, so you could always print them out. However, I've had Accelerando sitting on my (OSX) desktop for about two weeks and plan to buy the hardcover as soon as I decide if it's worth it. As you pointed out, there just isn't anything else with the feel of a paper book.
        • The question is, how long does it last? What happens when e-ink/e-paper eventually works and can be purchased in a "book" form, like the Sony thing? At that point, there's no real difference between the book (which you pay for) and the e-book (which you can freely download), except that the author gets paid for one. Yes, yes, I know, alternate business models, etc. I'm just curious.
        • On the other hand, Doctorow has had success in the past by making books available in print and via free download. His success flies in the face of the assumption that downloads kill sales.

          Then again, Cory tends to ignore the fact that being a blog celebrity also helps him sell books, instead just focusing on the fact that he allows free downloads. Some Joe Schmoe that didn't already have some kind of following but put books out for free download would most certainly not do as well as Cory.
          • Re:DRM (Score:3, Informative)

            by pythorlh ( 236755 )
            However, this is not necessarily true of the authors over at http://www.bean.com/library/ [bean.com]. These authors release full books without any DRM, and most of them get boosts to their in-print book sales. Baen has even released several ISOs of CDs full of DRM-free versions of books Baen publishes. They put these CDs into some of their hard-cover books, and it helps sales. There is plenty of evidence that DRM free publishing creates wealth.
          • by FLEB ( 312391 )
            I see far too much of this idea of "No fair! Widespread success takes more than just making the status quo!" Yeah, it's the Internet and the "new economy". That means that you do have to get found in the gigantic drone of crap that's already out there. That's the disadvantage. The advantage is that if you have the ability, it's a whole lot easier from there on out.

            I would have to say that the free-book giveaway has probably greatly helped his success. As for the Joe Schmoes, well, your Internet's right the
      • DRM does work. It doesn't have to work all the time. As long as it is still easier to purchased DRM'd stuff than search for cracked stuff on the internet there will still be sales of it and people will make money.

        I don't pay because the stuff isn't available otherwise--I pay for the service of providing the material in a convenient, readily available format guaranteed by the originator to be complete as he intended to present it. I'm carrying Stross's book around with me at the moment. The fact that it i
      • There are plenty of legal (and I don't mean Russian) music download sites which don't use DRM. I am a customer of several. They sell regular mp3s of commercial tunes and make good money doing so. Their catalogue is non-RIAA, but that's fine because none of the decent stuff in the dance music genre is on the major labels. The artists I can download from Beatport, for example, are the equivalents of Green Day or whoever - these are not minor league. If it can work for dance music...why not other forms?

        Exampl
      • DRM does NOT work.

        Nobody buys product because it's got DRM. Unless it gets in their way, nobody even notices DRM. So saying anybody is "prevented" from downloading free stuff because of DRM is nonsense. Most people buy stuff because of impulse purchases or because they don't know about or know where to find the free stuff.

        That will change as broadband becomes ubiquitous and the industries move to online purchases of product. Once people make a habit of searching for product on the Net, they'll suddenly st

    • Being anti DRM is the flavor of the month with a certain demographic. This little rant above and the release of a non DRM'd book is great marketing. Look he got himself posted on slashdot!!!!

      It is a bit like Metallica in reverse. Hard angry men encouraging other young angry men to break societies rules but wait .... somebody is downloading our music for free, lets run to the establishment.

      Just as Metallica is hard and angry for *marketing* purposes when it suits them I can't quite believe this guy is anti
      • There's a slight difference between what Doctorow's doing and what Metallica did. Metallica was trying to throw fans in jail. Doctorow is trying to give something away.
      • uhhh, I don't think Metallica's stand was for marketing purposes, if anything it was the worst move of their careers, and they (Lars to be specific) have as admitted as much.

        Why can't you take a stance or even a stand without it being a marketing move? It's certainly issues they (Metallica and this author) would know about, it's not like their injecting their opinions into world politics or something.
        • Maybe I should explain again ....

          Metallica are *hard angry men* for marketting purposes.

          Docotwrolwow ( or whatever ) is *anti DRM* for marketing purposes.

          ----

          Metallica tells people to go out and break societies rules because that message matches thier audiences demographics.

          Doctorwatchimac tells people to go out and break DRM because that message matches his audiences demographics

          ----

          Metallica spat the dummy when people did just as they told them to and broke societies rules. It just happened that th
          • by mouthbeef ( 35097 ) <doctorow@craphound.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:53AM (#13061621) Homepage
            "For starters why don't you go and scan his non downloadable books and place them on the internet and watch for the reaction."

            Well, the last time it happened [boingboing.net], I scanned it back in and re-released it under a CC license.

            • Classic.

              "Whoever wrote this doesn't know a thing about Kurt Vonnegut!"

              I've really enjoyed EST and DAOITMK, and I'm looking forward to your latest. In my opinion, the cover art alone should be enough to move physical instances of it.
            • Your actions, in that case, caused me to think a little deeper about this issue.

              I've always been in your camp where DRM is concerned. However, I understand some subtle thing I'm not sure I did before.

              Let me know if I have this right, because it's important:

              In a world of interconnected people and computers, information flows more or less freely. It has to if the whole thing is going to actually be able to do anything of value to us.

              I've got a work in the hopper right now. I think I'm going to do what
          • He's not anti-DRM for marketing purposes. Have you read BoingBoing at all the past few years? Have you paid attention to the EFF? It's his fucking job to go around Europe and push the Creative Commons and anti-DRM. And it doesn't pay well at all. So don't tell me he's in it for the money.
      • by charlie ( 1328 ) <charlie AT antipope DOT org> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:29AM (#13061559) Homepage Journal
        Considering that Cory is employed as the tech evangelist for The EFF [eff.org] in Europe, and is currently leading their campaign to block the broadcast flag for DRM in hi-def TV, you might want to re-think your idea that he's anti-DRM purely for pose value.
      • You can only be cynical when you're informed. Right now, you're just ignorant. If you want to become cynical, you'll need to do a little research on the history of Cory, his books, and DRM first. Then come back here and post another cynical comment if you haven't changed your mind once you've gained some perspective on the matter.
    • Re:DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Council ( 514577 ) <rmunroe@gmail.cFORTRANom minus language> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:36AM (#13061574) Homepage
      As far as the young internet citizenry goes, I'm moderate to right-wing on DRM and data liberalization (I'm fairly left-wing in real life). This might not be the best label; what I mean is that while I like the ideas of free information, I think there's a lot of bias in the debate and blood in the water on both sides. I think there are decent points and stupiditiy on both sides, and I don't know that anyone really has a grasp on what this new world is going to look like. I'm in favor of not doing anything too rash and waiting to see how it plays out.

      A few points worth keeping in mind:

      There's a tendency around here to consider what can happen to the exclusion of what likely will happen. That is, just because there's a way to copy something doesn't mean enough people will go to the trouble to do so. There's no theoretical problem with copying paperbacks, but the average Joe doesn't have the time or the equipment, and most in the American system get their books from legal stores.

      However, as with most parts of the debate, this digital revolution introduces a new twist: once something is broken, it can spread quickly. You don't have to re-break it for each copy. So you have a legal network and an illegal network sitting next to each other, struggling for supremacy.

      I think what it comes down to is that people who want to control how easy it is to get to something can do so, but only by a matter of degree. It will always be possible to get an illegal copy of anything digital. But they can probably continue to make it difficult. This might be wrong, though; maybe there is no effective stranglehold that can be put on p2p traffic as bandwidth grows. Maybe file distribution systems will allow total anonymity for everyone in a more practical sense than Freenet. I'm not sure.

      Let's try to look at the possible futures:

      1. Total DRM failure:

      KaZaA networks get better and better, cleaner and cleaner. DRM is cracked constantly and repeatedly struck down in court.

      It seems that here there are still several possibilities.

      1a. First: Total artistic anarchy. No average consumer pays money for videos or music. No one is forced to watch commercials in breaks in the shows. No one buys CDs. No one pays for their movies.

      1a1. There are interesting lessons of history here that I don't know very much about and someone should go into in comments. We really might see a fading of big-budget media-creation enterprises. A lot of people don't think this would be so bad.

      1a2. We might also see alternative payment methods arise. There's the idea that the market can handle anything. People will pay for what they want, one way or another. Concerts or patronages become the way artists make money.

      1b. Second:

      Artistic anarchy augmented by voluntary payment. People buy from iTunes or donate because they honestly want -- or are convinced by PR campaigns -- to support the artists they like. I think this is sort of wishful thinking. It might go for a while. But people don't like to spend money. Maybe this will blend into the 'patron' model, with a few rich people doing basically this.

      1c. Third:

      A tax supporting art.

      This could happen.

      2. Partial DRM failure:

      What we have now. DRM and similar efforts makes it hard work to get stuff illegally, but easy enough. We continue with the current system, where there's a class of people who pays, for one reason or another (usually to avoid the difficulties and risks of illegal copying), and a large class that downloads whatever they want and pays for little. The system takes a hit but continues for quite some time. Then things get hazy.

      Meanwhile, DRM is making a lot of problems for people who are just trying to move things player-to-player. People lose their music and get upset.

      3. DRM general success:

      • 1b. Second:

        Artistic anarchy augmented by voluntary payment. People buy from iTunes or donate because they honestly want -- or are convinced by PR campaigns -- to support the artists they like. I think this is sort of wishful thinking. It might go for a while. But people don't like to spend money. Maybe this will blend into the 'patron' model, with a few rich people doing basically this.


        I think smart, aware and well-wishing people will want to encourage artists with the right attitude. People like th
      • Re:DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

        by radish ( 98371 )
        There's a problem with 1a. I don't HAVE to buy CDs anymore, I could download everything I want from p2p. But I don't, primarily because I want the physical disk and want the sound quality. As it turns out I buy probably 10 a month or so. Look even at Cory himself - all his books are available online for free, but guess what? He still sells plenty because people want a big papery thing they can read on the bus.

        The key here is to understand that while people might not pay directly for the work in question be
      • Re:DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

        by braindead ( 33893 )
        I think we can look at computer games: they have been fighting DRM longer than music has. Initially, no game was protected. Now, some games can be copied trivially (i.e. no DRM), many are protected to the extreme (require the CD to start, or even require an internet connection to start(!)). And yet, hacked versions of the games are easily available. This is similar to your scenario no 2.

        And what happens? Most people buy games (possibly because we feel the makers of the game deserve our money), and the indu
        • New Business Model (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Vagary ( 21383 )
          There was a major change in the business model for games just as bandwidth was approaching the size required to make pirating them trivial. That same bandwidth that was about to destroy them allowed many of the most popular titles to be online multiplayer. Online servers make for very reliable DRM, and users support it because circumventing it would also allow cheaters.

          This suggests a very reasonable business model for musicians if no other IP authors. Hmm...
      • Re:DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WNight ( 23683 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @03:48PM (#13066290) Homepage
        I agree with the earlier poster who said that a DRM success wouldn't be any good for the consumers. We are living in a period of DRM success - just look at anyone who owns DVDs and doesn't use DVD Shrink.

        They are forced to watch trailers on many disks (Sixth Sense for one), can't screenshot or record a quick excerpt, and often can't play it to secondary video devices.

        This world of DRM Success shows that nobody in charge cares about the customer. Stores refuse to take back broken movies like Sixth Sense, or even ones that for a software glitch refuse to work in computer players (I have a few that won't play in PowerDVD or Xine). And then there's the fact that using non-authorized software is illegal. I'm not allowed to try to fix this.

        DRM is never going to not suck - there will always be reasons for wanting to prevent things that people are free to do with unprotected media like books (annotating, removing unwanted pages, skipping dull crap). Studios don't want you to do anything to their media, or watch it any way other than they intend. Allowances for consumer choice would be a hole their ideal total DRM, as such, they'll fight against you ever getting choice.

    • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:26AM (#13062791)
      Here... a classic example... [boingboing.net] upgrade acrobat and you find yourself locked out of those items that you've purchased...
    • What's wrong with electrified nipple-clamps?!
  • Stross totally rocks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:05AM (#13061499) Journal
    Lobsters [asimovs.com] is a really really strange short story, and you should go read it, ideally online while sitting in your favorite pub. Singularity Skyis a novel exploring a post-Singularity world, nanotech, clashes of cultures, reaction to post-scarcity economics and human (and post-human) creativity. It's deep stuff, and simultaneously a fun read, and he's an interesting guy to talk to if you're ever on the correct coast of the correct continent or island.
    • by charlie ( 1328 ) <charlie AT antipope DOT org> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:32AM (#13061703) Homepage Journal
      Just in case you were wanting to read the first chapter of "Accelerando" without downloading the entire novel, I'd like to point out that Lobsters [asimovs.com] (as mentioned in the preceding post) is effectively the first draft of Chapter One.
  • by lennarth ( 642915 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:08AM (#13061508) Homepage Journal
    Let's spread the link-love!

    0wnz0red [salon.com] is my favorite of Doctorow's. Some of his other short stories published on salon.com are Truncat [salon.com], Anda's Game [salon.com] and Liberation Spectrum [salon.com].

    Also, slashdot has previously covered Cory in an O'Reilly interview [slashdot.org] and his take on DRM [slashdot.org]. There is, of course, more [google.se].
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:13AM (#13061519) Homepage Journal
    This is great! People publishing things outside the established copyright monopolies can only be a Good Thing. Now everyone can get the material in the format they want: electronic for the "paper is dead trees" crowd, and nicely bound for the "I prefer to sit outside and read a book" crowd.

    Who's going to bind them? Well, that's where the new business opportunities come in. Small-scale production of books is wholly different from the large scale printing that is the norm nowadays. And as we lower the threshold to getting one's work published, I think we're in for seeing more and more interesting works appear. Printed GNU/Linux manuals, perhaps?
    • You're late. There's already several print on demand publishers that happily take almost any book you throw at them. Search for "print on demand" and you'll find quite a few with warying degrees of optional extras. Some of them will get your book into the main catalogues and will make the book available to for instance Amazon.

      In addition, there's at least one company working on a small cheap print on demand / binding machine intended to be cheap enough for bookstores to offer print on demand in store.

    • And there are several companies who do this. CafePress, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Lulu are all examples. I use Lulu to offer printed copies of my novel [jockmurphy.com]. That is not to say the big publishing houses are going to shrivel and die tomorrow. They can promote books far more efficiently than most individuals can, and it is functionally impossible to get a self published book reviewed or sold directly though brick and mortar bookstores.
  • by scovetta ( 632629 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:17AM (#13061533) Homepage
    ...This is an unconventional story about an entrepreneur (who happens to be the child of a mountain and a washing machine)...

    Dammit, we already have an overabundance of stories about children bred from washing machines. Can't these people come up with something original???
  • The whole point of a technological singularity is that it's a singularity. There's no way to look beyond it, because the afterwards is not going to be like anything we can imagine.
    • Re:Beyond? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vidarh ( 309115 )
      You miss the crucial difference between fiction and non-fiction. Of course we can imagine what it would be like after the singularity - it is our ability to give meaningful predictions of the future that is reduced. That doesn't mean we can't try. We just have to accept that the odds of being correct will be tremendously low, but in this case being right isn't the point. Being interesting and thought provoking is.
  • by acb ( 2797 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:21AM (#13061543) Homepage
    This is an unconventional story about an entrepreneur (who happens to be the child of a mountain and a washing machine) who gets involved in a scheme to blanket Toronto with free wireless mesh network ...using transceivers shaped like Disney tiki-kitsch objects, whilst being pursued by a cartel of DRM monopolists.
  • Stross' "Singularity Sky" is a great read, if a bit odd. While reading it I did get the impression that it relied on knowing beforehand what a singularity was, and what causality violations are. It had a kind of spent-the-last-few-years-reading-slashdot mentality, and I worried that it relied on too much geek-background to be widely enjoyed.

    I finished "Iron Sunrise" a month ago... also a cracking read. Starts with a fantastic description of a star being "iron bombed" and its subsequent destruction, along

  • New Things? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Matrix2110 ( 190829 ) * on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:43AM (#13061591) Journal
    I am sorry people, but the likes of Cory Doctorow are beyond even the collective mind of /.

    You academic types rave over Neil Stephenson while the people like Cory are doing far, far more to bring understanding to the common folk.

    Cory is well grounded and hangs out with the like of Lawrence Lessing and that tart Xeni (NSFW) plus the other crew over at Boing-Boing.net

    Good Stuff, fellow /.'ers .

    My sig sucks, but it plays over a modem to this day.
  • The e-books are free, but you have to pay for the actual books. Okay, that's pretty nice of them, and it makes sense to me. But what if I decide that, for ease of reading, I want to print out my e-book? Am I legally allowed to print it? If I'm allowed to distribute the free e-book (and I don't know if I am), couldn't I print many of them, and give them to people at Barnes & Noble? There are some borderlines there, and I'm quite interested in figuring it all out.

    - dshaw
    • by charlie ( 1328 ) <charlie AT antipope DOT org> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:13AM (#13061655) Homepage Journal

      Yup, you can print the book out. It'll cost you as much as buying the hardcover and the result will be less pleasant to read, but you can do it.

      You can give copies to other folks. The hitch is: you aren't allowed to sell it. Neither can the people you give it to. If you violate that part of the license, publishers' lawyers will come after you.

      Again: you're only granted these rights for the book, as a book. You can't edit or remix it, or make a movie based on it, without asking me for permission. (Clue: I'm not hard to get in touch with.)

      If you strip the internet out of the equation, basically you've got roughly equivalent rights to my book that you'd have to a book you borrowed from the public library -- except nobody's going to fine you if you're late returning it. Which is the whole idea of the exercise.

      • by mouthbeef ( 35097 ) <doctorow@craphound.com> on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:22AM (#13061674) Homepage
        I've laid out Someone Comes to Town in two PDFs (one in A4 [craphound.com] and one in Letter [craphound.com]) that are optimized for very low-paper-consumption printing; if you have a duplexing printer, you can get my whole 300+ page novel onto fewer than 70 sheets and then side-staple them.

        Many publishers are distributing advanced reading copies to blurbers, chain-buyers and reviewers in this format. I find it very convenient since it let me carry around a dozen copies of the book in the months before it was coming out to give to reviewers and blurbers I met in my travels.

        By contrast, the traditional system for ARCs (still in use in the majority of cases) is to print and bind a softcover facilime of the edition for advance distribution to the trade. These "proofs" or "bound galleys" cost more than the hardcover to print (on a per-unit basis) and are in perpetually short supply -- it's heartbreaking to get an inquiry from a major newspaper or magazine for a review copy of your book before it's printed and to find out that all the ARCs have been distributed and there's no budget to print more. The low cost and nonexistent setup charges for printing galleys laid out like the PDFs I'm distributing means that your editor's assistant can just print off and staple together another galley whenever there's a demand.

    • Yes, you can print them.

      Both Doctorow's and Stross's work are released under the Creative Commons [creativecommons.org] license. They are explained here [creativecommons.org]. There are several variants, but they only differ in what you can or cannot do to redistribute the work. As far as what you do in the privacy of your own home, they are all the same: they say that you can do whatever you want with the work. And, yes, that includes printing. It's also OK for others to print it for you, even if they charge you for the privilege.
    • ...Am I legally allowed to print it? If I'm allowed to distribute the free e-book (and I don't know if I am), couldn't I print many of them, and give them to people at Barnes & Noble? There are some borderlines there, and I'm quite interested in figuring it all out.

      I figured this was a simple case of RTFA... until I read Cory's license! The license is a new CC [creativecommons.org] license, Developing Nations 2.0 [creativecommons.org]. IF you live in a developing nation (using a UN definition) you can:

      • to copy, distribute, display, and per
  • Baen Free Library (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bigman ( 12384 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:49AM (#13061608) Homepage Journal
    If you want DRM free sci-fi to read and or download, then try Baen Free Library [baen.com]. I've passed many a happy hour reading some excellent books there.
    Eric Flint, an author and acting librarian for the above library, points out that sales of the in-print versions of some of his books actually went up after posting them for free in the online library. I read some of David Webers books there, and went out and bought them; despite the fact that the genre (space-opera) was not one I would usually go for. Eric points out in one of his articles on the site (Prime Palaver #1) that the biggest obstacle facing little known authors (and thats the vast majority of them) is their obscurity. Publish free on the internet, and people will read your books, tell their friends, and go on to buy the books you subsequently write. Perhaps that explains why sales go up when you give stuff away for free; I can't see how the same logic wouldn't apply to music.
  • If you haven't gotten the chance, you should also check out John Scalzi's (author of Old Man's War [amazon.com]) Agent to the Stars [scalzi.com] which he originally released as a "shareware" novel online but has freed up in its entirety.

    It's an entertaining story about a benign race of aliens that want to befried humanity. However, they look like giant globs of snot and communicate via a complex smell-based language, many of whose smells are thoroughly repulsive, if not completely nauseating to humans. In order to figure out how
  • Let it be said (Score:5, Insightful)

    by braindead ( 33893 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @06:55AM (#13061626)
    I don't see it in the comments yet, so I'll say it myself: thank you Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross!
  • by TuringTest ( 533084 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @07:41AM (#13061727) Journal
    There's a SF world called Orion's Arm [orionsarm.com] based on a post-singularity scenario.

    It's collaboratively created and published with a Creative Commons license.
  • I think giving away a book at publication gets plenty of attention today, but I wonder whether it will help much when it's not news any longer. When hundreds of authors follow his lead, as they will, it won't be Slashdot-grade news. Does anyone believe that they'll all sell tens of thousands of books just because it's free? Oh, I'm sure it will lure some people in. Perhaps the sales lost to the free loaders will always be cheaper than paying for ads. Lord knows that good advertising isn't cheap. So maybe i
  • I picked it up a few days ago in the welcome area. Haven't thumbed through it yet. The great thing about reading it in Second Life is the book rezzes like 2 stories tall.
  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @09:03AM (#13062089) Homepage
    I just finished reading Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town last night. (Good timing, eh?) Not only that, but I read the whole thing on a palm pilot for free with permission, which made me feel better than all the books I've read on the thing without permission. Anyway, it's pretty good, but I'd say Doctorow earlier works were stronger. The "unconventionalness" was sort of it never really seemed to get explained or justified. I guess that was probably the point, but I got to the end and felt like there was still more story that I missed out on. I guess I felt something similar at the ends of his previous novels as well, but they just seemed more self contained.

    Anyway, check out Eastern Standard Tribe [craphound.com] and his first novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom [craphound.com]. Both of these are also available for free download from the above linked sites.
    • I'm glad I've found someone I agree with. Other reviews I've seen just exult SCTSLT as a marvel of scifi uniqueness. However, I found it to be frustrating. Though I found it compelling, you're right, I wanted more explanation.

      The flashbacks interrupt the story flow, and little devices he uses are sometimes painful. Especially that device that repeats a single sentence and fills in content in parenthesis. The characters are memorable and the dialogue was good. But I felt like I wasn't getting it. Li
    • Wow, that was just chock full of missing words and poor grammer wasn't it? Jeez, I've really got to proofread these things before I put them online.
  • by jockm ( 233372 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @09:06AM (#13062105) Homepage

    Unknown authors also release their novels free on the net [jockmurphy.com]. Then they use venues like Slashdot to help get the word out. For example, I am doing that just now. Oh wait, I've said too much...



    OK that was shameless self promotion, and I'll not repent. But it is great that more established authors are out there doing this. It adds an air of legitimacy to all of us who are trying to use alternative means of publishing or promoting our works.

    • No offense, but the net is filled with terrible, unreadable novels, and if anything demonstrate the usefulness of real publishers, who ensure a certain level of value in what they produce. I downloaded the first part of your novel, and half the first paragraph is below:

      I'd like to say that I rode back into town like the conquering hero, but that would be a lie. I didn't even slink in through the back door. There was no one who knew I was coming back, which I suppose echoes they way I left.

      In the first s

      • Well it isn't I, per say, who used the cliche. It was the main character. Hopefully it was clear it was a cliche, which is why he used it. As for typos, yes there are some. If you think that is why it was passed over, well I have read the rejection letters, that was never the problem. I have gotten better traction than most first time authors.
  • Is it just me, or are they running out of good titles for books?
  • I think it is a fine thing that Doctorow, a content producer, made a free and voluntary choice to release his content without DRM. Likewise, I also think it is a fine thing that I, another content producer, can make a free and voluntary choice to release content with DRM.

    We already live in this perfect world. All choices in this matter are voluntary.
  • Nipple (Score:4, Funny)

    by furrywithwings ( 851094 ) on Thursday July 14, 2005 @10:13AM (#13062646)
    Speaking as one of the pro-Nipple clamp crowd, please compare your awful DRM to something that's really repugnant like, smelly fish, or bad houseguests. Some of use LIKE our nipple clamps, electrified.
  • I had no idea it existed, but this Cory fellow is apparently releasing his books under the Creative Commons Developing Nations License [creativecommons.org].
    In essence, it says that you can not only download the work, but you can also make money on it - as long as you live in a developing country, and do not make any money on it in a High-Income country.

    Way cool.

  • I've read it. Very cool stuff in there about future tech.

    The cat is the coolest character. A real Transhuman!
  • I was sorry to see that this list didn't include Kelly Link's Stranger Things Happen [lcrw.net], which was released under the Creative Commons last week to coincide with her new novel, Magic for Beginners [lcrw.net].

    I like to tell people that she's the female Neil Gaiman -- she's writes with a similar adult fairytale sense -- but she's a much deeper and more mature writer. Check her out, tell a friend.

Real Programmers think better when playing Adventure or Rogue.

Working...