Cheeseburger Gothic

Audible thoughts.

Posted September 2, 2010 by John Birmingham
An unexpected package arrived yesterday, a big block of CDs, the audio book of After America. I'd forgotten one was coming out. Probably because my author copy of the Without Warning audio book went missing in the mail. Anyway, a little curious, I popped the first disc into the player in the Swedish tank this morning as I drove down to get some muffins for the kids.

OMFG. I won't be doing that again. I almost crashed the car twice because I totally fell into the story this guy was reading. It was bizarre. By the time I get to the point of taking my hands off the manuscript, just before it goes to the printer, I can hardly bear to look at the fucking thing any more, let alone read it. My mind actually flinches back from the page because I've been forced to plow through it so many times. I put the disc in purely to see how the narrator, a guy called Kevin Foley, did the dialogue. Having done a bit of public reading I always find the dialogue a challenge. Do you try and assume a new voice for each character or just read it as neutral as possible? I've done both.

It was weird, totally weird, hearing the voices that usually live inside my head (I know, I know) suddenly coming from outside. And a little confronting at first. For instance Foley reads Kipper As much older than I do. But it still works. As I said, it works so well I've decided it's a bit dangerous having it on in the car while I'm supposed to be concentrating on traffic.

I've only listened to a couple of minutes so far, but already it's made me see the book anew. And I mean ‘see’ it. I'll try and explain. By the time you get to the end of your work on a manuscript you no longer see the story. It's a bit like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix; you see the core code, the warp and weave of narrative lines, the topography of the story, the structure of simple sentences and complex thoughts. But you don't really visualise the action anymore. Or at least I don't. I assume most other writers at the same.

But listening to Foley read After America this morning, it was as though I was passing through the story for the first time. Seeing and hearing everything the same way you do when you first crack open the copy you've brought back from the bookstore. Because you would never bit torrent a pirate copy oh no.

It was cool. Cool enough that I think I might save the experience for some long plane flights in the future. Although as I prepare to dive into book 3, Revenger's Reach, I'm also wondering whether it might be useful to devote a couple of days to listening to the audio book all the way through to get myself immersed in the story again.

40 Responses to ‘Audible thoughts.’

jennicki is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2, 2010
Wow. That is really interesting! I never really thought about it before, but how bizarre to have a story in your mind pop out like that!

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Moko mumbles...

Posted September 2, 2010
Audio books ARE the fucken SHIT....if read right. Got an iPod FULL of them. IF the author approves, then, imma be tapping that bitch.

IF you want a good one, get House to House by David Bellavia on audio book. FKN grouse. God, I'd pee myself on the spot if 'you' did AoT as an audio play.

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Big Bad Al would have you know...

Posted September 2, 2010
That would be the same with movies.

For example, Clive Cussler's Sahara... I read the book(s) first and had a firm mental image of Dirk and Al. The characters in the movie did not match my image of what they should be. I have since dismissed the movie characters as "ring ins" and continue to imagine the characters as described by the author.

On the other hand I saw the Jurassic Park Movies before I read the books. As I read the books the movie images of characters was imbeded in my imagination and although not as they are described in the books the movies characters prevailed.

As a young fellow I was a fan of the Biggles books. The ABC also had a radio serialisation of the books which, as I recall, was well presented. As with the books I would be immersed into the story and be right alongside Biggles as he flew of to his next adventure.

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eybeebe mumbles...

Posted September 2, 2010
I've read the first three Harry Potters to my kids now, and they're working through Stephen Fry's reading of the fourth - he does a lovely job of it. I often wonder if I'm doing the munchkins a disservice, depriving them of the pleasure of creating their own internal view of the HP world.

Kinda like seeing a movie before reading the book - invariably bad news.

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Orin puts forth...

Posted September 2, 2010
Revenger's Reach?

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Ian Kath mutters...

Posted September 2, 2010
Interesting.

It sounds like for you it's as though the read almost took you into that meditative state of consciousness where you became the story.

So did you fall asleep into the story or wake up into a new consciousness where you are part of the story?

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 2, 2010
Yep. Maybe RR.

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WarDog has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2010
Wow, I could really handle a slide into a story like that. How big is the audio in MBs? I'm thinking that it could make a great hit on the smart phone market. Even the fruity one :-)

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BruceGaryNigelson would have you know...

Posted September 2, 2010
Is it just me, or do others picture Kip as a middle-aged, full crop of hair, fitness orientated sort of bloke?? Would be weird listening to him as anything other - well to me anyway.

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Scott puts forth...

Posted September 2, 2010
So WW,AA,RR hmm WAR how appropriate.

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Brian asserts...

Posted September 2, 2010
Well I'll be . .. .

Revengers Reach!!!

That's going to be providing talk fodder for a while.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted September 2, 2010
WW AA RR, What is it good for?

I'm a bit dubious on Revengers Reach, I still like Union Undone.

Havn't really got into the books on tape thing, although after Dad's stroke I have access to them but my BatPhone & The Bobettes hand-me-down) Ipod is chock full'o Podcasty goodness from ABC Radio National. Whenever they do boring art stuff or I'm out of range I'm into Boyer Lectures etc.

The only exception is grocery shopping where System of A Down, Primus &/or The HillTop Hoods are compulsory. It embarrasses the crap out of the Bobette as it appers I'm grooving to the shmaltzy Muzak.

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jennicki ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2010
So in chapter 14 does he totally say my name?

(couldn't help myself)

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Orin mumbles...

Posted September 2, 2010
AA is available at Audible.com. I've had a subscription with them for 10 years and can download anything I've purchased in that time to any device I own - I'd highly recommend their service.

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Moko mutters...

Posted September 2, 2010
Yeah, ditto on Orin. Audible is great. Apart from the Audible ads...but they don't last.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 2, 2010
Yes, Ms J. he does.

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warren mumbles...

Posted September 2, 2010
Hah! In my shop the writers must sit with a copy editor during the copy read, which means listening to the words followed by an outspoken punctuation mark: Apostrophe mark [capital L] Look at [capital S] Spot exclamation mark apostrophe mark said [capital J] Jane period. We are known for being Nazis though.

The real torture is the final copy read, in which the copy is read backwards: period [capital J] Jane said apostrophe mark exclamation mark [capital S] Spot at [capital L] Look apostrophe mark. While such copy editing is tedious to say the least it ensures fewer screw-ups in the final copy.

After enduring that the sound of prose being read is certainly rhapsodic.

Speaking of rhapsodic prose, what did you decide about going straight to digital and bypassing the publishing process? What about the reviews on Amazon for your latest?

Along those lines the Barnes & Noble mega-store on Broadway and 66th Street (Manhattan) is shutting down--they say because of high rent but it's really because of Amazon knocking the bottom out of prices and more people spending their time on the Internet...Also, Barnes & Noble is going on the sales block; that after having put all the private bookstore owners out of business. Look for a purchase and further liquidation of their big-box stores and further decline in impulse book purchasing.

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Murphy mutters...

Posted September 2, 2010
Revenger's Reach?

Ah . . . no. My vote is no.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2010
@ Murph

I think John is still having his Red Dead Redemption period. Give him time to work through it. Its a better hook than 'Book Mark 3'

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted September 2, 2010
Birmo's titles almost always change and I suspect this one will too.

Least I hope. I liked all of the other ones but this one leaves me flat.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2, 2010
And he accidentally did a 'whoopsie'? Doesn't sound like the John we know . . . the devil . . .

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Blarkon has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2010
I keep thinking "Revenger's Reach Around" ... but maybe if it had a cover picture of the seal of the USAbut modified sot that the Eagle wearing sunglasses and holding an RPG in one claw and a chainsaw in the other and is smoking a fat cigar and is wearing a viking helmet and with a leather jacket that had FKN FERLS on the side it ... "Revenger's Reach Around" might work.

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Matt Kitchin has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2010
See, I'm the opposite. I LOVE listening to an audio book in the car. It gets me into less trouble then actually READING while I'm driving too.

Glad the narrator nailed it. The best stories can fall flat with a bad reader.

(Pretty much anything read by Peter Hosking is great)

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted September 2, 2010
And how do they do the explosions, machine gun sounds, , .50 fkn cals going off, rocket launches, wet thud of bullets opening up brains and cleaving great fkn holes in people..hey!..how does THAT get done!

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jennicki asserts...

Posted September 2, 2010
*passes out in pleasure*

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sparty mutters...

Posted September 2, 2010
The Mist by Stephen King was done with sound effects, I like books read by the actual author - Stephen King has done one and Donna Tartts done the Secret History- although accents can be jarring its nice to hear something read by the progenitor

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Ryan DuBois mutters...

Posted September 3, 2010
Hello, just wanted to let you know that I thought the book was great. I've really enjoyed reading your work. Thanks for the character. All the booksellers I work with are blown away to read me in a book. Even if I am blown into three huge meaty pieces. Still working my arse off to sell your books! Cheers!

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Amerigo Vespucci mutters...

Posted September 3, 2010
That "The Mist" audiobook was pretty good, but my favorite still has to be the "World War Z" audiobook. If only it had been the whole book ...

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 3, 2010
Ah, Ryan, I'm glad you saw that little cameo.

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gtrof would have you know...

Posted September 3, 2010
So is AA going to be an audio book Birmo? If so I'll dish out the money again and add it to my iPod.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 3, 2010
Uh, yes, gt. It is. That's what I'm talking about.

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 3, 2010
They better get HAVOCK right or I will go fkn ballistic, I guess I really should get an audio book, have a listen and then speak from a small base of knowledge, then again, why arm oneself with accurate data!

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archy is gonna tell you...

Posted September 4, 2010
per Birmo, 02 Sept: ***I put the disc in purely to see how the narrator, a guy called Kevin Foley, did the dialogue. Having done a bit of public reading I always find the dialogue a challenge. Do you try and assume a new voice for each character or just read it as neutral as possible? I’ve done both.***

You might think about the opinion of some of the real experts on the matter:

http://www.blindreaders.info/audiobks.html

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Don Bagert mutters...

Posted September 4, 2010
This guy Kevin Foley has done quite a few Books-on-Audio: http://www.amazon.com/s/qid=1283553000/ref=sr_st?page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cn%3A%211000%2Cp_27%3AKevin+Foley&sort=daterank

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Bob mumbles...

Posted September 6, 2010
I was actually kind of disappointed with Tom Foley's reading of the book. I thought Kipper ended up having kind of a prissy Mr. Magoo feel to it, which was annoying. Yet, the story was good enough to get past it. I also thing it was weird, because another narrator, Tom Weiner, read After America, and you sort of get used to how a character sounds, then bang, their voices all change. I am having that issue right now with John Connolly's latest Charlie Parker novel, which the switched narrators, after Jeff Harding read like the past 8 or so. It's just weird, like all of a sudden someone else is narrating your thoughts.

On another audiobook note, I thought Jay Snyder did such an amazing reading of the Axis of Time trilogy.

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Guru Bob reckons...

Posted September 6, 2010
So where did RR come from?

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Don Bagert ducks in to say...

Posted September 9, 2010
The only instance of "Revenger's Reach" that I could find on Google (besides this blog) is in a book about Hamlet:

http://books.google.com/books?id=K5cLMRPcJgMC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=%22Revenger%E2%80%99s+Reach%22&source=bl&ots=oJsic-0umU&sig=vSm4Ir0FB_nHvTYeRRejwQ5Vl_c&hl=en&ei=qiCITMWgCci3nAeDyfyZCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Revenger%E2%80%99s%20Reach%22&f=false

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted September 11, 2010
I'm listening to a sample now. Oddly enough, this Kipper sounds very close to the Real Kipper.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul ducks in to say...

Posted October 1, 2010
JB,

I have read (and bought) just about all that you have published in book form from flaffle on but when I went to audible they tell me that I cannot buy the axis of time series or AA from them as sales are not authorized for OZ. What gives? I would like to help keep you in cash, but alas they wont let me.

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Respond to 'Audible thoughts.'

Up late.

Posted August 25, 2010 by John Birmingham
I really don't dig on night work. Night time is for drinking, and watching teev, and kicking back with the Xbox or whatever. It's for all sorts of things besides sitting at my keyboard grinding out the pars hour after hour. But that's what I did last night, until I had enough of a feature article finished to zap it off to the eds at 1.03 AM, if i recall. At which point I was so fucking wired I had to sit up for another half hour, sipping mah whiskay and dialing down from the work rush.

Consequently, today, old JB's a bit groggy. No work for me I reckon. Took half an hour out to get the number one shears run over my bonce, and I'm gonna go pop into the city now to drop some boots off for repair and help Citykat out with story she's writing about Rolling Stone magazine. If there's time I might even go see Salt before picking the kids up.

Funny thing was, I checked my twitter feed after sending off the copy and it was, of course, completely different from the day time feed because everyone here was in bed, while my normally slumbering northern hemisphere followers were up and about.

I vaguely recall having some profound thought about that, which I meant to turn into a column. But it's gone now. Completely gone.

35 Responses to ‘Up late.’

Brian reckons...

Posted August 25, 2010
Noticed a few writers tweeting in.

Is Scalzi stalking you?

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Moko mumbles...

Posted August 25, 2010
YEah, I have moments of genius. They never last long enough to make me rich but.

I leave the combs off the clippers. Gives me an extra coupla days without having to tackle it again.

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girlclumsy asserts...

Posted August 25, 2010
As you finished your final pars, I was finishing off After America. It's shameful it's taken me this long, but I've been getting through only a couple of chapters each night over the past few weeks, what will all the other things I do that keep me busy.

****Potential spoiler alert****

Loved the explodey goodness; assume I'm going to see more Caitlin super fight action in Book 3 ("Greater Good" is my title suggestion); but WTF at the end?!?!? Miguel has become one of my fave characters now, and I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU DID THAT. I almost wept.

****End of spoiler alert****

Anyway, thanks for a great read. Looking forward to more thread discussions now!

Cheers, Nat.

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Big Pete is gonna tell you...

Posted August 25, 2010
@Moko

I'm the same as you Moko. I used to make do with a number one, but then I thought, what the hell, so I hardened up, chucked the number one guide back in the box and just rely on the thickness of the Clippers as a guide. It sure makes for a short haircut.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted August 25, 2010
As Eastwood said in Unforgiven, "Have another drink, kid."

Scalzi should sit at Birmo's knee and take notes.

Lots of notes.

Guess I ought to go check the twitter feed and see what is what.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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T2 is gonna tell you...

Posted August 25, 2010
JB, been meaning to say thanks for all your efforts. Thanks. AA gave me a few precious hours of not having to think about all the shit going on in the world, and in my own private life.

Guess I'll dig back into Stephen Sears's, Gettysburg now. It's not light reading, but it'll do for now.

Appreciate all you do.

Tim

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted August 25, 2010
Started @ 16:00 yesterday worked till @ 02:00 this AM & back on clock @10:00, just about to go home & hopefully to bed.

Did get a chance to try out my snowboarding thermals - worked a treat.

A double layer of balaclava + a neoprene face mask may have been seen as excessive, in fact my partner gave me sh!t for about four hours, until his teef were chattering too much. But not me I was toasty. Well as toasty as you can be in a small boat doing 20 knots up creeks @ holycrap O'clock.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 25, 2010
Totally agree on the evening whiskey thing. Nothing like that golden sippin' goodness, a bit of action on the teev or things getting explodified in a book.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 25, 2010
Nbob wins.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted August 25, 2010
What's the prize, hypothermia?

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Abigail mutters...

Posted August 25, 2010
I know what you mean about how different things are when you're up late working on the computer so you check in to your favourite social blog & all the Americans come out to play--it has a weird feel to it late at night. Especially when they cross over with a few Australian stragglers and there's this almost palpable cross-current of energy-flowing in two directions, receding and coming forward. Odd.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 25, 2010
Don't know how the rest of you do it . . .I usually run an app that tells me what time where. When the Kiwi's wake up . . .so do the Alaskans. Some very strange conversations . . .

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 25, 2010
Aunty Q.

Hypothermia is for the underprepared.

As mentioned above Polypropalene thermals wrist to ankle, boarding overalls, wet weather pants, long sleeve Tshirt, woollen jumper, lined bomber jacket, Stormy Seas (tm) inflating PFD, woollen balaclava & sexy silky liner, neoprene ski mask, Lace up boots & thinsulate lined deerskin gloves (thank you & Dog bless you Winona Minnesota.) Only thing I wasn't wearing was my possum fur socks - The Warmest Socks Ever.

I look like the Michelin Man doing a bank job and if I fall in the p!ss I'm going to drown but I'll be damned if I'm going to be cold up till that point.

All to talk to 4 netting crews.

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Abigail puts forth...

Posted August 25, 2010
*Hands Nbob a prize of his choice*

The things that go through my mind about what it is you do. It's fine I don't want to know --we've had that conversation before about how you don't say it in public which is good-- and it's more fun to fantasise.

At present you are the little underwater superhero that we all had in the 60s/70s. Little tiny flippers, little tiny face mask on your wee little plastic feet...

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 25, 2010
umm, make that on your wee tiny face.

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ConspiracyCat puts forth...

Posted August 25, 2010
What's that, Abigail? Did NowhereBob wee on his feet, or his Face? I'm confused.

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Robert would have you know...

Posted August 26, 2010
Birmo, look, since you have the day off, why not ring up your publisher and tell them what a great fucking day August 17 was to roll out your book in the USA.

It's the deep dog days of August, news is sparse, TV is shit, it's HOT, and I'm trying to come down from a StarCraft II jag. Gotta pick up cat food and Borders was in the neighborhood, and there, way in the back of the store was your book. So it was in stock. And it's got, what, crud-encrusted fighter jets on the cover-sweet! And it's not a 600-page backstory yawner that the others are cranking out as their second-of-three series.

True, the $26 price tag put me off because I hate to send that many hard-earned Yankee sawbucks overseas, but then I realized that you only get a fraction of that. So, done deal and I've got my end-of-summer read, thank you very much.

Congrats to your publisher for selecting 8/17. I mean, if they can't release the damn thing two days after your final edit, then 8/17 is next best.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted August 26, 2010
Hey, I done got me some fancy super script.

(TM)(C)

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Jerry Crawford is gonna tell you...

Posted August 26, 2010
Hey John - while you're up late and can't seem to get anything done why not write a third book in the After America series. The way you ended it the story just begs for some closure.

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Sweet Jane Says asserts...

Posted August 26, 2010
You would not believe the insane weekend I had. I'm stuck with one character that fancies himself an F. Scott and another that thinks he out Hunters Hunter S. I emerged from a different reality yesterday.

Just thought I'd share that. You people seem to be the most "normal" in my life.

J.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted August 26, 2010
Holy shit.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted August 26, 2010
Shh.

Jane's having quality time with Her People, remember?

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peterbowes puts forth...

Posted August 26, 2010
you are burning out birmo - not everybody loves you

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Brian puts forth...

Posted August 26, 2010
Sooo . . .she's getting back in touch with her . . .roots? . . .by coming back here. We're her touchstone to reality?

Fck me dead.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted August 26, 2010
@ peterbowes

Got that arse about mate.

Should be 'you are burning out birmo - everybody loves you'

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Abigail would have you know...

Posted August 26, 2010
Brian, lol, yes,JB, you're not quite mentally dishevelled and emptied of all creativity , not quite intellectually bankrupt enough... yet.Keep your eye on the prize though; we'll tell you when you've hit rock bottom and have dinner to celebrate.

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peterbowes ducks in to say...

Posted August 26, 2010
read AA - lots of tosh matey - 150 pages too many - not good -

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Leo has opinions thus...

Posted August 26, 2010
Finished AA in a week-long reading sprint. Great romping read. Better than most thrillers out there. It put my mind in another place and that is good. Very good.

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Quokka mutters...

Posted August 27, 2010
I object to being outed as one of Jane's Roots.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted August 27, 2010
Aunty Q!

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Brian mutters...

Posted August 27, 2010
God Q.

I never knew.

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Quokka mumbles...

Posted August 27, 2010
This is Boylan's fault.

I told him, and told him, but would he listen?

No.

You dress up like Xena and roll around in a jelly pit fighting with a troll, and sooner or later it comes back to bite you on the arse.

I think she snapped an incisor that day.

I had to get shots for that.

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Abigail puts forth...

Posted August 27, 2010
I now know sjs in a different context and there is a lot more to her than might appear. True, whatever decisions made here, by her, on this blog, have had an affect she encouraged.I'll only say, my opinion, and the way I have come ot see the other side is this: a woman who likes to downplay sentiment, or maybe feels uncomfortable showing it, but doesn't lack soul or heart and is actually a soft person--it's just very hard to see , here. (I appreciate that).

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted August 28, 2010
Abigail, Jane has mellowed considerably in the last 6 months or so. When I first turned up at the gates to the Gothic she was gibbering and snorting under the draw- bridge. She slagged off everyone, her disjointed & bile flecked rantings were tedious in the extreme. The low point for me was when she broadly sledged After America and anyone who enjoyed it while obviously not bothering to actually read it.

If her medication has been changed (or doubled) or she has discovered a remnant trace of courtesy then bully for her.

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archy has opinions thus...

Posted August 31, 2010
***Nowhere Bob: Hypothermia is for the underprepared.***

The Norwegians say that there is no bad weather, only poor choices for the day's weather conditions.

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Respond to 'Up late.'

First sighting in the wild.

Posted August 18, 2010 by John Birmingham
Murph reported the first verified sighting of After America in it's natural home this morning, six hardback copies at a Barnes and Noble in Kansas City, not all that far from where some of the action in the book takes place. Other readers have been tweeting me with confirmation that there copies, bought from amazon, B&N and so on, have begun to arrive in the post. For all of the inconvenience of staggered publication dates around these here parts, it does allow me to indulge in the excitement of a second launch, even though I'm not there to do anything about it.

Anyway, I'll open the general discussion forums at last this weekend. It'll give those us in vegemiteville something to talk about other than the election.

For those so inclined, with amazon accounts, or B&N for that matter, the review button is now functional. Unfortunately you have to have bought something before they'll let you review, which is kinda sucky. I'm not sure whether downloading one of their free books counts.

41 Responses to ‘First sighting in the wild.’

brian reckons...

Posted August 18, 2010
To quote BSG.

'At Your Command"

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Phil asserts...

Posted August 18, 2010
Any idea when the audiobook is to be done/released - and please don't let them have that clown Scott Brick do it.

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gtrof mumbles...

Posted August 18, 2010
Got mine this morning but there was only three copies displayed in the Borders I went to. Been reading it this whole afternoon, good stuff so far Bimo!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted August 18, 2010
I bought mine this morning, too. I haven't read far, but I must confess to a touch of disappointment. For some reason I had the impression that this sequel would focus on the tender story of a young girl coming of age. Perhaps next time.

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted August 18, 2010
As per Brian,

" RODGER THAT, WAIT OUT!"

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ConspiracyCat is gonna tell you...

Posted August 18, 2010
Could be worse, Phil. I hear Fran Drescher is looking to branch out from GPS voiceovers.

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lostatlunch mumbles...

Posted August 18, 2010
Can we sign up the Zombie Charlton Heston for the audio book?

we can either edit out the call for "BRAINZ" or indead use it to add flavour to the resurected piles of goop.

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yankeedog would have you know...

Posted August 18, 2010
I've got a Barnes and Noble gift card with AA's name on it. I'll be picking it up this very weekend!

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted August 18, 2010
The irony of the sighting is that in the Without Warning Universe, the Barnes and Noble I spotted the books in would be a grassy field with some trees in it.

Soon as Trinity gets paid we'll pick up some copies. She wants a copy for each of her sons and I probably need to pick one up for Gov. Schimmel.

I did give the U.S. variant a quick scan of some sections. Seems to me like the U.S. variant has details the Aussie version does not. Doesn't hurt the structure of the story in any way but I've got admit, I like the U.S. Variant better.

Maybe I'll think differently once I've read the whole thing.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted August 18, 2010
Be interested to see what diffs people can pick.

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Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted August 18, 2010
+++Can we sign up the Zombie Charlton Heston for the audio book?+++

Only when you jam the script into his cold, dead fingers.

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sparty would have you know...

Posted August 18, 2010
Can we have a thread on the US / Oz differences and why?

And on the UK situation- kind of feel there is a whole book / novella in that.

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T2 mumbles...

Posted August 18, 2010
I'm kinda pissed that my copy of AA didn't arrive yesterday. I thought Amazon had sent it out for a delivery on issue date, but no such luck. Maybe today? Hopefully.

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Dex puts forth...

Posted August 19, 2010
Reporting in that the Kindle iPhone App version didn't want to download at first but it finally came through.

(lights cigarette, hand shaking)

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Hercules40 mumbles...

Posted August 19, 2010
Oh, I'll review it soon enough. Walked into B&N on Tuesday morning, looked over the shelves and could not find it! Boy was I pissed! So, I go up to rep and say:

"Where is 'After America?' dammit" It wasn't that funny, I know. They still had it in the back room. She went and got it for me.

I am a few chapters in now. Should have a review soon (in my blog and elsewhere). I know I haven't followed the whole development storyline up to now, but I can't wait to finish reading the book.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted August 19, 2010
I loved your work in Hercules and the Captive Women (1961).

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Don Bagert mutters...

Posted August 19, 2010
Yeah, at my B&N they still had the two copies of AA in the back room as well.

So, John, if there are differences in the multiple versions, which one is "canon"? LOL

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted August 19, 2010
I think it is spelled "cannon."

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Boscolamb has opinions thus...

Posted August 19, 2010
It is in the book stores here in the Detroit area. Unfortunately, none of the copies I ordered for the libraries I work at have arrived. With all of the budget problems, we'll be getting fewer copies too. Some branches might not get any copies.

Damn economy! I REALLY wanted to begin reading this by the weekend.

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Brian would have you know...

Posted August 19, 2010
@PNB @ 9:33

Unless we're being punny. :)

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T2 is gonna tell you...

Posted August 19, 2010
Holy f'ing, mother Mary and napalm loving Joseph! AA is off the chain insanely righteous! And, I'm only on page, 82.

JB, you are a sick mofo. Wow!!

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted August 19, 2010
See, Tim knows how to write a decent Amazon review.

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Trashman mumbles...

Posted August 19, 2010
I got my copy from Amazon UK earlier this week. It gets started tonight. NO SPOILERS!!!

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Murphy mumbles...

Posted August 20, 2010
The main difference that I can detect is that the U.S. version has some small scenes that were cut from the Australian version. The other difference is that the U.S. version is heavier on small details which I think are missing from the Aussie version.

Both I suspect are canon as the overall structure does not seem that much different. Then again I'd need to read from start to finish in order to say. Either way, I find I like the U.S. version better.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted August 20, 2010
I am reading the LSD flashback scene and LOVING it! It is funny because it is true.

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T2 puts forth...

Posted August 21, 2010
Damn, JB, you made me tear-up, quivering lip and all. AA is incredible.

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Leo euler has opinions thus...

Posted August 22, 2010
Got it at Books-A-Million in Cookeville, Tennessee today.

Will read it and comment later in future thread(s).

Great job, JB!

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Wes S. puts forth...

Posted August 22, 2010
Actually, at least one Borders in the KC area (Crossroads Center in Lees Summit) had three copies of "After America" on the evening of Tuesday the 17th; that's where and when I got mine.

Just finished it this afternoon. Loved it. And - no spoilers - but Milosz just cracked me up.

(P.S.: In the BirmoVerse, one set of remains that Kipper's salvage crews scraped out of Ameristar Casino when they turned it into a dormitory would have belonged to me. Dare I hope that they at least said a prayer over the bits and pieces before they consigned me to Hawthorne Furnace #5?)

;)

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T2 mutters...

Posted August 22, 2010
I twittered you on this. Mormons don't consume caffeine. They abstain from it, in all forms. Even Mormon cowboys. It's church doctrine. I dated a Mormon for several years and have known dozens of them. I even joined their church for awhile.

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted August 22, 2010
D'oh! That's what I get for having non mormon editors. I'll have to see about a few line changes.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted August 22, 2010
No, no, it adds to the verisimilitude. I know Mormons who drink coffee. It is very possible that Mormon cowboys drink coffee, especially during the post-wave social reconfiguration.

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T2 mumbles...

Posted August 22, 2010
Bull, Paul. I've known many Mormons and none of them uses caffeine. They think of it as they do alcohol. And when we're talking devout Mormons, no way they'd use caffeine. Ever.

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T2 ducks in to say...

Posted August 22, 2010
Wait, ok, it's possible that some Mormons drink caffeine. Of all the Mormons I've known, and that is around 100, one family did indulge in caffeine. They were a family of Mormons whose patriarch was a US Marine. He and his wife liked to drink Dr. Pepper.

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted August 23, 2010
Wes, if it makes you feel any better, they would have scrapped my remains off the corner of 10th and Main where I used to work security.

As for prayers? Open question really.

That is good that Lee's Summit has them. I had not dropped in to check there yet. I teach out at nearby Longview so it was on my list.

Additional spotter report. I saw a copy at the Barnes and Noble on the Plaza. I'm guessing other copies were purchased.

Per Mormons and coffee, I've seen both batches. We've got a pretty strong Mormon presence here in the Kansas City Area (particularly the Mormon Museum in nearby Liberty where a clown named Jesse robbed a bank once).

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted August 23, 2010
No I am not Murph. Just his mom who uses his blog to get too yours because I can't remember my password. I know I am late coming to the party on your books,but I wanted you too know that I just started to read this series and really enjoyed Without Warning a lot. Now if I can just make Steven hand over his copy of After America. I will get on with reading that one. I am giving you two thumbs up, because I really did enjoy the book. I am not easy to impress no matter who writes a book. I am impressed. Good read.

Ros Steven's mother.

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hemingdale has opinions thus...

Posted August 23, 2010
The B&N in La Mesa, CA had one copy of AA on the shelf (9/20). Snagged it.

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 23, 2010
Uh, I'll drop After America off this week, Mom.

Your Son,

Steven

Here in Kansas City

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Ron Salisbury SA5108 ducks in to say...

Posted August 24, 2010
Read Without Warning and After America is there a third (4th 5th??? etc) in this series. I have the Need to Read so how long will I have to wait. Don't Break an arm!! Awesome Reading.

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Wayne is gonna tell you...

Posted August 26, 2010
A bit late to the party, but then I am not quite done with the novel. Excellent work, JB. By far your best work so far, and I think that is saying quite a lot. I do have a few logistical questions, and perhaps they were not addressed due to length constraints. First, why is there no talk about consolidation of the rump US with the rump Canada? It would seem to make logical sense. Your population base is primarily Pacific Northwest with a sprinkling of Alaskan/Yukon and Hawaiian types. Canada has no ability to protect its eastern provinces as its military is laughable at best and surviving military likely non-existent.

Second, logistics, you will need roving bands of engineers checking every damn railroad and interstate bridge and overpass in the US. The railroad and interstate system just became the arterial system from which the US can rebuild. You were spot on that the railroad network from KC to Seattle would be of primary concern, but if the US is going to focus on reclaiming its territory it must keep the railroads and interstates open. That will require engineers to test their stability post-Wave and roving maintenance crews (if you don't know what I am talking about, look up Kudzu on Wikipedia, the deep South is infested with the weed).

Keep up the good work.

Wayne

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted August 27, 2010
Wayne, it isn't mentioned specifically but there is a brief mention of the influx of Indian rail crews into the US who are escaping the Indo-Pakistani Nuclear War of 2005. Those crews mostly likely include the roving bands checking infrastructure.

I suspect what would probably happen is that they would focus on one rail route for the time being, one that leads straight from KC to Seattle. While this leaves it vulnerable to interdiction (we see that as well) it is also probably the most believable, most achieveable and realistic.

As for consolidation with Canada, that was discussed around here in the early days of book two. While U.S. readers seemed to think that was a good idea most non-U.S. readers didn't think that would happen.

A more probable scenario for Canada as a Commonwealth Nation would be to seek some sort of tie with Britain. They would probably grant rights to the deserted eastern territories which I have no doubt the Brits would exploit.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted August 27, 2010
Thanks, Wayne. We may address these very questions in a stand alone thread.

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Respond to 'First sighting in the wild.'

What price an e-book?

Posted August 14, 2010 by John Birmingham
I had half an hour spare to myself this arvo, and finally got around to doing something I'd been meaning to attend to for ages. I set up an acount with Amazon's digital text service – the Kindlegruppenmeisters – with a view to releasing a self published ebook-only title in the AoT series sometime in the next 18 months.

It's purely an experiment. Something I'll do in my 'spare time'. My publishers would very much like me to move towards much less weird and alternate texts, which I'm cool with, but there remains a good deal of interest in reading about what happened after World War 2.3 finally ground to a halt at the end of Final Impact. And now that I've had a good break from the series, I'm kinda curious to find out what happens too.

It's not something I'm going to devote a lot of time to in the immediate future. I'd like the ebook market to mature a little more first. But it is something I am interested in enough to pursue.

Interesting question though. Price points. Since this book would not be professionally editted and publsihed (leading to typos like those two you just read) what would be a fair price for it, assuming Book 4 runs to roughly the same length as the others?

I'm thinking $1.99 as a floor beneath which I shouldn't drop. But is that a bit low? Or even a bit high?

This is where you get to shine, my friends, since you've been paying for this stuff for years.

107 Responses to ‘What price an e-book?’

Rhino mumbles...

Posted August 14, 2010
Hmmm established, published author with a following ... no lower than $5.99 US dollars. Seriously.

Also, of course, depends upon length. Are we talking novella here or full on 100,000 word standard book length?

I don't care what any woman says ... length counts. Except for SJS ... in her case girth matters.

Just sayin'

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fknvirty mutters...

Posted August 14, 2010
'bout fkn time ya went indie laddie.

non de plume experiment? suck it and see? will depend how ya wanna market future grunt i suppose. am fairly surprized ya agents didn't get ya to sign an exclusive.

just add "made in oz" 'an you got it made. pz.v.

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Tarl would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Agree with Rhino. Baen Pricing (webscriptions) should be considered as a bottom - they are selling at those prices largely as a loss-leader to drive physical book sales.

This assumes you have an editor working with you to fix spelling and continuity errors - I don't want to see it otherwise. I've seen several books at the e-arc stage (advanced reader copy), and their errors can be quite off-putting. It depends on the author - Bujold and Drake are quite readable pre-editors, other authors are less so.

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Scott is gonna tell you...

Posted August 14, 2010
I buy webscriptions e books for $6 US after about 12/18 months they sometimes drop back to $4.

They have been edited though, and no fucking drm I hate that shit.

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Abe would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Reckon the price point would be somewhere near that of a Commando war comic. Used to be 50 cents when I was a kid but now I've seen 'em for $2.50 or more.

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Abe mumbles...

Posted August 14, 2010
Oh shoot misread the length. THought you meant a short one. Nah $5 as a min. Fo' sure.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted August 14, 2010
Interesting. At five bucks a pop I could justify hiring an editor.

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girlclumsy mutters...

Posted August 14, 2010
I'm not a professional, but I'm a pretty good editor, being in the writing/journalism game. Would be happy to offer a second eye to look over drafts if that helps keeps costs down.

(I'm sure you've probably already had the offer, but anyway, thought I'd put it out there anyway. Was going to offer editing services to super-writer Havock, but was a bit worried about being yelled at/hacked at with a cutlass).

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PeterMoore asserts...

Posted August 14, 2010
Hey John - been looking at doing something similar myself. So here's my 2 cents worth.

Agree with Rhino - you're an established author with a fan base. Set too low a price and you damage the 'brand.' I'd go $4.99, still cheap enough to be an impulse buy.

Tari's got a point too. If you're going to sell it, you need to have it properly edited and get a decent cover done. People regard eBooks as less substantial than a 'real' book already. They won't go for substandard as well. You'd be better off giving an 'experimental' book away for free, with all the appropriate caveats about typos etc.

I've just spent the past couple of months turning my brain into mush coming to terms with the practicalities of creating these babies - learning more about XML and XHTML than any sane person should. So feel free to drop me a line if you want some tips on that side of things.

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PeterMoore would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Oh, and another thing to maybe consider. Print on Demand has come on in leaps and bounds. So while you're preparing an ebook version, knock out a file for a 'proper' book as well. Then if someone wants a hard copy they can order one too.

The file is held in a digital vault by a PoD supplier. When someone orders a book they print it and send it to them. You're out of the loop until a cheque gets sent to you each month.

No boxes of books gathering dust in the garage. And another revenue stream to keep the bunnies and hovercrafts in running order. (Though not as much as you'd get from eBooks)

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T2 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
I agree with Rhino. 5 or 6 dollars for an e-book is a great price, especially for a full-length book from an established author.

I can deal with typos. Every book I've ever read has them, and sometimes makes me wonder who is doing the proof-reading. Authors do the best they can, I'm sure. But, when you're proof-reading your own stuff you already have the text memorized in your head, so it would seem natural to miss things because you're bored and zipping through the process.

Personally, I'm not ready to invest in an electronic reader yet. It's still too easy to buy a paper book at a store or online and have it delivered to my door. I think, perhaps, it would take authors putting books out as e-books first or alternatively to get me to make that leap.

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CraigWA would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Cheap enough that it's an impulse purchase rather than something you want to think about and choose carefully. I did wonder whether you should choose something like the price of a large cup of coffee and price it at some scaling factor to that. $5 or less certainly seems the right kind of ballpark.

My friends who self publish a lot use an online peer review site which they speak very positively of. If you stuck it up there and then let your privileged few read and make corrections or suggestions, you might get a better product at the end. The site was http://www.quicktopic.com/ if I've dug up the right link.

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Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
Presuming its no less than one third or one quarter ??length of one of the original AoT books I think 5 dollars is ? fair price?

You could charge a bit more if its to be the same length as ? other books in ??series

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Abigail mutters...

Posted August 14, 2010
JB, I have read about some very established authors doing this kind of thing before--but who? who??, I can't remember!! drats.

But yes, they have had a little affair on the side away from their publishers,( not e-books) and their audience looked well on such a venture.

Yes, $5, I'd pay that--but no more than that and less might lead to the impression it's a flimsier follow- up than readers would like.

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brian would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
$5 would be about right. I mean to say its less than a pizza, movie ticket or for that matter a video hire.

And at the end of the day, you can still wrte it off as an experiment.

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Orin puts forth...

Posted August 14, 2010
I'd pay $10 US. I regularly pay more for ebooks and $10 is still a bargain. I buy BattleTech game PDFs that are much shorter for more money (though they come with art). Use an editor, otherwise it looks like fanfic.

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Orin mumbles...

Posted August 14, 2010
Specifically I purchased Zendegi by Greg Egan for $12 USD, The Scar by Mieville for $8.30 USD, Iron Council for $10 USD and Kraken for $12 USD in the last few weeks.

$10 for new fiction from an established author in a universe I already like is a gimme. You can drop the price over time - but raising it would be problematic.

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Darth Greybeard swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
Orin's point makes sense. Might be worth starting higher to test the waters. Who knows? This could be an interesting and profitable experiment. Would it be kindle-only and DRM-ed or in multiple formats? I'd fork out $10, but only because I badly want to know what came next. Mmm, is there a Kindle app for Android?

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Orin would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Yup - there is a Kindle App for Android.

Kindle is great. Other ebook technologies require a degree of faffing that is pleasantly absent from Amazon's technology.

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lostatlunch would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Have kindle on my sweetbpretty iPad ! Precious....... So sweet & so pretty

Anyway $5 without blinking.

Think of the total sales of ww 2.3 then $4.50 for each of those sales going into the jb superfund.

Sweet jubiles you could be truly ashamed of your disgraceful behavior with that sort of money. And then have that drive the sales of this back catalogue.

You could buy Ipswich with all that loot.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted August 14, 2010
Yeah $5

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MickH swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
hmm

Do you think we can give Q7S an airing here?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted August 14, 2010
Originally came here seeking information on a AoT sequel. Thrilled to know one is actually possible. With your support mechanism - here alone - editing won't be a serious problem.

Agree with Orin. $10 dollars flat. A bargain compared to hard copy. Can always lower as time goes by.

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brian ducks in to say...

Posted August 14, 2010
Jeez guys . . .we had him at $5 . . . .I know he ain't cheap . . .but ya got to haggle.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted August 14, 2010
Nownow Brian, let's not be hasty. If people insist on paying ten...

In the end it might just depend on how much work is involved. Anything under a hundred thousand word manuscript I'd probably go $4.99. but if it ran to 150k words plus, then you might see it got to $9.99. (Theres no middle ground between those lengths for a bunch of reasons to do with narrative dynamics that I won't get into here.)

Mick does raise an interesting point however, of the possibility of franchising the universe. I could see a series of Grantville Gazette style collections, written by others with my approval going for somewhat less than a canon title.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted August 14, 2010
Yes to franchise. Yes to Grantville Gazette style collections. I want to see Murph's efforts, in particular, see the light of day.

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted August 15, 2010
A visit with the folks of 2021 would not be a bad thing.

The only hangup I see is that some folks (myself included) do not have credit cards or debit cards. I can't impulse buy anything on the net (which is why I don't have them).

That said, I wouldn't let that stop you from going forward, Birmo.

And five dollars for something around 20,000 tto 40,000 words sounds reasonable to me.

Which is another question. How long would these publications be in word length?

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Tarl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 15, 2010
Paul - Grantville Gazette and associated 163x publications is an interesting point, in a negative sense. 1632 was entertaining, 1633 was a considerably better book, but the proliferation of essentially fanfic-quality books in that universe caused me to drop the series entirely. Too much crud to wade through to keep track of the storyline(s).

A good series can withstand one fanfic compilation; but 163x demonstrated that going too far damages the original property.

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Roberto has opinions thus...

Posted August 15, 2010
If it's a full-length ebook, $8-$10 US is what I consider "fair." I usually feel a bit cheated when it's more than that--although I pre-ordered AA on Kindle for $18 without a second though ;)

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
Tarl - Your argument presumes bad fan fic. I suspect that Flint's standards (although I love Eric like a brother or sister, or whatever is currently fashionable) has a lower standard than would be expected here. For example, I am fairly confident I could write something suitable for the Grantville Gazette for the same reason I am equally certain I would not be up to the challenge here. I would be driven to write a story about how Joseph Stalin, touring Australia, is kicked to death by a flock of Emus. It wouldn't be good.

The AoT universe is simply bursting with possibility for stories that really need to be told. Some of the apes who lurk here are actually fairly talented. A fan fic collection and/ or franchised plot lines published as e-books could generate some income for the boss and give exposure to some aspiring writers. In the parlance of negotiations theory (which I admit is a bit cryptic if not plagued with obscure jargon) this is called a "win-win" scenario. What's not to like?

Flint sat down and outlined the 1632 series before assigning parts of it out to his friends. The outline changes as stories, plot lines and characters advance or peter out. If this is going to happen, the same thing should happen here. That way, stories can jump around in time but remain consistent with the greater whole. For example, I would love to see the Hammer run for president in the 1950's, but I also want to see stories that fill in the gaps within the original three books - such as the referred to, but unseen, unexperienced invasion of Hawaii and Jones' liberation of same.

And please, please, you fan fic writers out there, don't forget the single element that made AoT so fucking compelling - i.e., the social and political consequences from the class of future and temp cultures. Sure, explody goodness is always welcomed, but when Jones' men went into those Honolulu bars and mixed things up, that was just fucking great.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
"clash" not "class." Fucking jet lag.

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Abe asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
Actually JB you could kick off the franchise model by setting the benchmark yourself under a nom de plume, Bachman style.

This would also reduce the risk of diluting the brand if you set the price point too low.

Setting the benchmark yourself would give the fan fic writers a clear steer as to quality, given, in the absence of an editor, you might be put in a rather awkward position from time to time when hacks like me bowl up some shite they've been slaving over for five years.

Just a thought.

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Moko would have you know...

Posted August 15, 2010
What about releasing in short book form for like 0.99. Maybe an on-going 'episode' type format. Obviously each ep would need a start and an ending or you may as well release a full e-book. Just a thought. Franchises would be easier to tackle that way as well.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
Crikey, what a ball tearer of a thread.

Lobes exposes his latent Mandarin.

Brian haggles the wrong way, "Dig UP stupid."

and Murph resists capitalism. (I have a very clear image of Murph tied to the mast, suffering the silken siren song of acquisition, while his stout shipmates with wadding in their ears row on.)

Spare time JB? Where's my Big Thinky tome on Fear? That'd have to be far far far more important than pandering to the infantile lustings of these apes.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted August 15, 2010
Oh and

I don't have a Ebook reader, I know, like how 2009.

But I'm guessing around the $5 mark for a 3/4 to full length book would be about right.

You'd go all premium $15+ if you had lots'a pictures & super high end polishing.

My logic being that @ $10 - $15 I have a tangible thing that I can lend to friends and/or throw in the bottom of my Bug Out Bag that goes everywhere with me. $5 is more like a coffee or pizza purchase.

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Abe is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
Ouch!

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Moko mutters...

Posted August 15, 2010
NBob - ya can't just read em on the PC?. I believe as long as it isn't done via Apple's iBooks. Surprisingly. /sarcasm.

For the love of GOD, please don't give it all to Apple.

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2010
I like this, especially given my work is of a QUALITY and AWESOMENESS thats " Editor nor required"...well, "OK GC..I'll put away the CUTLASS and hit da MUTE BUTTON I PROMISE!"....lol

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Tarl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 15, 2010
Oddly Havock, I was just thinking about you in this context.

Fanfic can be worth reading - your recent 25,000 words comes to mind as such an example. Another example that occurs to me is that "Drakas!" anthology which had a lot of stories which were effectively fanfic in a universe the original author had abandoned.

But there is a clear distinction between stuff written by real authors who have talent, and that written by those of us less fortunate souls who have to earn our livings at manual labor. I'm willing to pay real money for the former, but enough of the latter can end up destroying the interest in the universe as a whole.

Sure, there are stories which are aching to be told. But I want Birmo to spend his efforts on writing new explodey goodness, not wending through the politics of editing someone else's efforts.

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joe ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2010
$0.02 worth:

Editorial Fascism is A MUST.

I don't want this fictional world diluted quality-wise.

Except on Miniburger......!

I can deal with it there.

I'd deal myself out of the discussion from here though, because I don't do e-readers (until I can roll them up and swat flies without ejecting the battery) and I don't do online micropayments. I do cold hard cash, and like a creaking neoluddite prefer to pass it directly into the hands of an actual bookstore sales clerk in return for a wad of dead tree slices.

Also don't lose perspective on budgeting some time for that Thinky book.... I like Thinky books, especially with readable prose.

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Orin mutters...

Posted August 15, 2010
If you have a computer, you have an ebook reader. Kindle is available as a client application for Win and Mac.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
Ah 'the politics of editing someone else's efforts'...

Tarl speaks with much wisdom for one so young and comely.

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Scott mutters...

Posted August 15, 2010
Tarl's comely? *snorts coffee*

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Abigail mutters...

Posted August 15, 2010
JB what exsctly do you know about Tarl's level of comeliness and will you be using such adjectives to describe one Captain Tarl in future books?

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Tarl is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
I do hope none of my colleagues see that comment, or you'll hear the laughter all the way down to Australia. Something about 0-for-3 in one sentence...

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DrYobbo asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
I'd pay fifty dollars for one!

Actually I wouldn't, but everyone loves a context-appropriate Simpsons quote.

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HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted August 15, 2010
BAH..when I say to some bastard.. MAKE A COMMENT or HAVE A LOOK, thats called, TEAR IT TO FKN PIECES..its a precious FK who asks the question and then squeals like a stuck pig at not liking the answer..or in my case..THE RED FKN INK!

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nhamilton@iinet.net.au has opinions thus...

Posted August 15, 2010
$5 sounds appropriate but would rather pay more for an editted version. Spelling mistakes spoil the reading and ruin my mental image of the allmighty writer.

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brian asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
The editing is a ball tearer. The 1632 model is a good one.

Yeah ..I've rabbitted about it before. But Eric is pretty remote from those Baen threads . . .he leaves it up to his henchman including a couple who are good on the history, tech and writing sides. Eric is seldom seen in the trenches.

Looks like you got to recruit, John.

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Scott is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
If you are going to franchise I would suggest using established authors, much like the starwars lot do.

Authors who are allowed to play in the sandpit have to have already published in the sf community a quality control measure me thinks. All you have to do is okay the story arcs and let them get on with it. Oh, and skim the cream.

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted August 15, 2010
I'd probably use two different editing models. For my own stuf, I'd just hire someone I trusted. Possibly even Steve Saffel the orginal series editor of AoT. For the fanfic I'd be more open to retaining somebody on a royalty deal, say 10% of any income generated for their work on editing the collection. Specifically, I'm thinking of Mr Flinthart who has form in this area. But I haven't asked him yet. Perhaps I should send an email.

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
"Authors who are allowed to play in the sandpit have to have already published in the sf community a quality control measure me thinks. All you have to do is okay the story arcs and let them get on with it. Oh, and skim the cream."

WELL WOULDN'T THAT! kill fkn heaps off. Whilst IF I was having a crack at it, I would be taking an infinite amount more time, the very hurdle listed, would kill the fk out of many, who would in all probability I suspect have a crack, given I am NOT a published AUTHOR!.

But that leads to another issue as well, without some sort of boundary, and lets at this point for the sake of the exercise assume DF said yes, how do you CULL , sift through the.....SLUSH PILE, I think it is referred to as in the industry. Or do ya just let DF disappear behind a mountain of submissions. Should be good for some interesting posts on DF's behalf I would suspect....think of a large, woolly, frothing at the mouth Tasmanian..lol

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TC Forest is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
$4.99 (sans DRM). Make it cheap and easy to buy and multi-platform.

I'm sure some of the characters here have the skills and desire to help with editing in exchange for credits (and/or a grisly death)

The Print on demand idea is great too.

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warren asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
What I'm going to say to you will sound like an agent or editor or producer. Hmmmmm. Maybe because that's the sort of thing I do.

So here it is: #1. Don't do it. Don't tear off like an untrained bird dog and flush sparrows when the trick at hand is to flush a pheasant. Focus on writing stand-alone books, not serials. Discipline yourself to writing market-driven product as much as you can without going into convulsions.

#2. Focus your secondary efforts on some scriptwriting. See if you can write for that Australian police show that takes place on the Gold Coast that's making a small splash on Hulu. Focus on writing visual, focus on writing stories whose elements can be gang-shot (i.e., a step up from a play, a step back from a feature), focus on writing action that can be shot on a budget. When you come to the states on your next book tour be sure to stop off in Vancouver and meet the people at Bridge Studios. Be sure to rub noses in LA.

#3. After you've done #1 and #2, THEN write your magnum opus and THEN slip it in on the coattails of your other work. That's what Speilberg did with Schindler's List; that's what Crichton did to get "The Great Train Robbery" published and made into film; that's what Sidney Sheldon did to get "The Other Side of Midnight" published and made into film.

Good luck!

In other words, first sell your soul, then publish your favorite stories or universe....

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Scott swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 15, 2010
Havock my point was that fanfic spans the spectrum from really good to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. New writers require a fare bit of sheparding, I discovered this writing a thesis, it wasn't just the content it was style. My impression, I could be wrong, is that JB already has a workload up to the eyeballs, and may not have time to shepard the fanfic lambs. Maybe those of you in the circle of trust could get a pass?

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brian reckons...

Posted August 15, 2010
Slush piles are easy.

You watch the comment thread lengths and the views.

You then note the commenters who have form for accuracy and instinct.

As a fanfic writer, you want feedback. ANd on the whole fanfic commenters range from Trolls to Top guns. You watch the topguns.

Jose knows how this works.He's an A1 writer, lots of fanboys, seldom gets published as, (being the free soul he is), he is unfettered by cannon. Actually . . . he's oe punter I'd like to see come on board.

DF would act as the final filter. ANd . . .(as the bastard almost has NBN) the bandwidth.

Hmm . . .could be worth an informal chat with Paula, Rick or Laura on the 1632 Baen threads .. .one pro to another. Stevo has a contrary viewpoint also worth a chat.

Jose has access. So does J Johnston.

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T2 mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
JB, this threat reminded me of the Orson Welles radio play, War of the Worlds, so I went onto iTunes and bought it for $9.99.

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rif has opinions thus...

Posted August 15, 2010
I was surprised to see you suggest $2. I'd pay as much as $5 for it.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted August 15, 2010
It's a new world, rif. One in which I am largely clueless. hence my quest for a clue. And a price point.

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Lobes asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
Stupid Chinese computers. You'd think a hotel like this would have wifi. Oh well serves me right for travelling sans laptop.

Like Tarl and others I question whether the boys club atmosphere prevalent at the 'Burger would allow inhouse editing here to be ruthless enough to be competent.

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted August 15, 2010
And for exactly the same reason. Loved the Flint 1632 books. But the series was destroyed for me once the amateurs started showing off their knowledge of polish-lituanian historical possibilities. CNGAF

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brian mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
@Lobes

Not the only downside to the series.

Its also "search for the killer technology'. Lotsa data dumps, very little story.

Also ; the 'all downtimers are dumb, we moderns are the pinnacle of history'.

And the selected group, inward policing thing can be a killer.

I do approve of the 'tarpit' idea. Some topics are unresolvable . .but they keep getting revisited. Waste of time for everyone. Particularly if srays over into politics, religion or global warming.

Set rules. If you want a biffo take it off blog and go at it e-mail to e-mail. Rest of us, could care less.

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donna mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
Last week I purchased and read The Passage by Justin Cronin as an actual book, it cost me $24.99 and it was a bloody good read.

Just looked at Amazon ebooks and there it is for $11.99 I could save a packet if I switched to the electronic version (I haven’t graduated to that yet, but must do it soon.

Check out the current prices on Amazon for new releases, I saw some up around the $20 mark but most were around 10 – 12 dollars and I noticed Lee Child's most current 61 Hours is $17.00.... don’t sell yourself short!

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted August 15, 2010
Donna, you may not have been to get that 11.99 ebook if territorial restrictions applied.

And re. in-blog editing. That wouldn't be happening. For the very reason Lobes points out. If fan fic is gonna get up, it has to get up to a commercially publishable standard. Harsh, but non-negotiable.

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MickH mutters...

Posted August 15, 2010
There's that horrible published/not published bullshit line again. but I think Havoc answered that well.

I think I speak for just about everyone who is serious about writing, its hard to get good solid critiques, we WANT to be torn to shreds, we need it. A 'that was great Mick' is nice but doesn't really help. John I think Flinthart would be excellent at it, if he'll do it. I've worked with him a bit already and he's great at it.

And i was just thinking about it JB, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since i wrote Queen of the seven seas, to the point where a lot of the new burgers wouldn't have a clue about it. I would be keen to dust it off and work on it again if there is a glimmer of hope of it being published, otherwise, its not worth the effort

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Tek Jansen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 15, 2010
Would anyone here pay to read the Mini-Burger?

So why pay to read a fan-fic anthology of the same authors?

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El Coqui is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
First, thanks Brian, for the kudos.

Strangely enough, I just returned from NASFIC 2010 in Raleigh, NC were together with the other festivities, they also held a 1632 Minicon. So I just saw the whole gang there, Eric, Paula, Virginia, Rick, et al. I will be happy to put you in touch with them if you are interested.

Also strangely enough during one of the seminars I got this funny idea that Birmo may like to set up something like we had for his universe. But set it aside thinking that no one here would be interested.

Is obvious that I am not a seer. :)

On the model used by the Gazette, all submissions are first posted to the 1632 slush forum and peer reviewed on slush comments, at times to the smallest details. Then Paula Goodlet and the editorial board pick up the best ones for the online magazine. Paula is the full time editor of the Gazette and other 1632 related publications. They get professionally proofread-ed prior to publication.

So my first piece of advice is to rally the troops and see who would be interested in pitching a hand or two. Like on Baen's bar, I suspect that there is a deep pool of resources in the members of this august company.

Second, work out the contractual relationships, at first 1632 was handled with what was basically gentlemen or gentlewomen agreements with the participants, all of them barflies. However after several health scares, they are moving now towards a more contractual and legally defined relationship. It may be easier on the long run to get your legal stuff out of the way first. As you are likely to get your helpers, authors and readers spread around the world.

Of course, the bottom line is that Baen Books support the Gazette and the 1632 related infrastructure. Will you need to set a similar support system? I think that it ought to be one of the first issues that needs tackling.

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donna has opinions thus...

Posted August 15, 2010
Ah yes, thanks John, its all very confusing....for a novice!

I looked into it a bit more, with my eyes open this time. Using the Passage as an example, I eventually found, what was called, the "cd/audio" version of 'The Passage' by Justin Cronin online at borders.com.au and, get this, it was $68.95... fark and they weren't kidding!!

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brian would have you know...

Posted August 15, 2010
@ El Coqui

S'OK Jose. :))

Point is, been a few models tried. At the end . . . what's still standing?

I get a feeling there a 'small, medium and large' business thingie in play here. Try a small model. Pay attention to see if its scalable. Put in criteria for success and failure wth review points. Wait a tick? I'm sounding like Kotchie. Hmm . . . .maybe . . .I dunno . .something in talking to a business guru? Can't hurt.

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savo is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
I'd know what I'm getting, so I would pay more that the $1.99 ... a lot more. The $5.99 mentioned for an AoT e book sounds like a steal but not too much of a one. It would hook people who have no idea of the history of the series, so think about job lots too.

.

I only read quickly ... fan fic? Okay for a fan fic anthology a buck ninety nine sounds like great value. Lota, lota stories to pick from. Would you commission (pepsi challenge) more? What about the stuff here and at the mini? Having fan fic acknowledged and put up as part of the cannon would be huge.

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
NBob: I've read ebooks on a Nokia phone...

And the Kindle App is the very first thing I downloaded for the iPhone...

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El Coqui asserts...

Posted August 16, 2010
Another benefit is to nudge more burgers to the ranks of professional writers. If any such magazine pay professional rates for story those will be considered for membership application on writers organization. Thanks to my stories on the Gazette, I could apply to the SFWA.

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CraigWA ducks in to say...

Posted August 16, 2010
With regards to the e-Book vs physical book prices, as I already suggested "they usually aren't that different" and as Orin has pointed out, the production and logistics costs aren't a very big percentage of the price you pay. The ability to produce anything cheaply will come with the removal of middle men (notably the ones that pay for the marketing trips around the country to plug the book after it comes out) and the value that they provide. You are only really replacing the shop owner with an e-shop owner who probably has a more efficient business model and can do the same job for less.

I still think the goal is to make it cheap and easy enough to buy that it's actually easier and more positive to pay the token price and download it into your chosen device legitimately rather than get it as a text or PDF and import it that way.

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damian reckons...

Posted August 16, 2010
An interesting coincidence, riffing on Donna, is that I'm currently reading Passage by Connie WIllis, in Kindle Edition on my iPhone. It's been a long time to finish, because I interrupted it to read the second and third books of the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy in the middle - both, also, in Kindle Edition.

I'm all for ebooks - and when, JB, is your publisher going to release your stuff for ebook here? What are the particular hurdles to this again?

I've never even thought of trying to write fanfic, you know. It does strike me as a great way to practice writing for targeted readerships, reader demographics. I know I find it hard enough to pull punches and stick to more accessible language styles, and good exercises are a great thing.... hmm. Though I'm almost surprised miniburger doesn't have a slashfic offshoot...

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jfyles is gonna tell you...

Posted August 16, 2010
Call me a fanboy - but I still wonder "what happens next" in that story too. I want it to be worth the authors time and energy to write works such as this - so I want them to compensated enough to "do it again". I would have no issue paying $7-9 for good fiction from an established author in a known series.

As someone who orders 10 books a month for my kindle - just seeing another JB opus in one of the existing series is clearly worth that - even if the editing is a little rougher than normal!

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fknvirty puts forth...

Posted August 16, 2010
you've already trialed the free download scenario with oozie wotzie was it now? last year weren't it?

so what exactly were the stats, or won't they tell ya that.

'tis just all soooo forking 2002.

AND 15.55 sec's after you've uploaded to your "secure" fknserva it appears on a torrent somewhere.

then begorrah, somedude like richard harris or burton or john scalzi leaves yer fkn cake out to precipitate.

humbug.v.

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DNABeast asserts...

Posted August 16, 2010
$0

I am routinely assured by the noisiest people on the Internet that 'Information wants to be free'. Those words in your head didn't cost you anything to make so why, they state, should we pay anything for them?

Myself, I can't help but compare it to $6 for a comic book. $6 seems like a decent deal to me.

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Surtac mumbles...

Posted August 16, 2010
John,

Have a look at www.closed-circle.net where authors CJ Cherryh, Lynn Abbey and Jane Fancher have set up an ebook store to directly sell their old backlists where the rights have reverted to them as ebooks. Looking at CJ's stuff, old titles such as Heavy Time go for $5, new books such as Faery Moon (a heavily re-worked version of Faery In Shadow) are priced at $9.95. It helps that they have strong editing experience and artist resources 'in-house' to package the works attractively.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted August 16, 2010
Define "fanfic?"

Does fanfic imply poor quality? Maybe, maybe not. I have to be honest, I don't read a lot of fanfic aside from what ends up at the Burger. Much as I like Flint's concept for 1632, the series never really grabbed me.

If I had to judge based upon what I've read fanfic wise at the Burger, I'd have these things to say.

First, the latent talent is there. Pick a writer that has published there and I'd say they have a basic level of talent.

Second, while talent is there, experience and education is not. Fortunately this is rectified easily enough by the old mantra of "practice, practice, practice," followed by "critique, critique, critique."

Third, one trend I have noticed is that most fanfic here tends to fall into two general categories.

Parody (some of the better ones) and tactical procedurals (aka "explodedy goodness").

I like the explodey stuff, that is part of my job as part of the Circle of Trust, to help make that plausible. But the problem is that explodey stuff is a spice, it is not a main course.

The main course are the characters. The characters have to come first. From them plot, problems, conflict, adventure, heartache and the like follow. It has to be that way or you'll never generate sufficient emotional resonance in your readers to give two shits one way or the other whether or not someone gets their head blown off. They are just another name, another cardboard dummy, another statistic.

It should be a tragedy when someone dies.

Case in point. I'm reading Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth. I have not read it before, didn't know about it, don't know what is going to happen in it. My mom read it, liked it, passed it to Trinity and then I started today.

Early in the novel a major character dies, unexpectedly I might add (though if you read the cookie crumbs left by Ken, the signs are there).

It was a heart wrenching moment as I sat there at the pool on a sunny day while families and their children played around me at the pool. This person just died and I cared about the character enough that I felt tears coming to my eyes.

Folks, I'm pretty hard bitten. That simply doesn't happen to me that often but what I have just described HAS TO BE THE GOAL.

That is the difference between fanfic and professional grade. Anyone can do it if they apply themselves and learn the tricks.

So I'd opt for an open submissions model. Someone needs to wrangle the slush since it is time consuming.

Or another approach would be to select viable writers who are already capable of professional grade work. I can think of a few (no, I won't say here, no don't e-mail me, that'll be between myself and Birmo and no, maybe I won't suggest myself because that'd be pretty fucking selfish).

Once the viable writers establish a sustainable market (or fail at it which makes my next point moot) then it should be possible to transition over to an open slush model. I don't know that I'd feel that comfortable with the 1632 slush model. I've never been happy with that system as many editors consider something published on the net to be . . . well, published.

One last thing, and this is why I do not write a lot of media/franchise related material.

It takes time to write anything. Markets are few and they are rather demanding in their own ways. If you are doing this as a labor of love (which is how I normally approach my Birmoverse fanfic) then it'll be worth the time.

If you are approaching this as the road to the future, then you probably need to think of a different way to get there. The value I see in a Birmoverse publication is that you can build the experience you need to write any type of fiction.

The drawback is that Birmoverse Fanfic is only going to get published in one place aside from a personal blog and that is at a Birmoverse fiction outlet. You can't send it off to the Big Three U.S. Mags, or off to Andromeda Spaceways, or Interzone, etc.

So my advice to would be writers would be to pay attention to whatever opportunity Birmo puts out BUT concentrate on writing stories that can break into the other markets.

My two cents.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Sweet Jane Says mumbles...

Posted August 16, 2010
A good magazine may cost $5.00 or more in the US. Do you want to be in that catagory?

J.

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Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted August 16, 2010
Rhino, are you trying to get my attention? Feeling ignored...? Don't worry; I noticed you. I noticed a lot of Birmingham's new readers strongly dislike the "Rhino" character. They think you're a bad joke and are unimpressed by your girth. There... I've given you attention.

J.

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MickH has opinions thus...

Posted August 16, 2010
You didn't mention the silly hat Jane!

hehehehehehe

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Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted August 16, 2010
Mick, what it needs is one of those little propellors in between the horns.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted August 16, 2010
i'd go up to ten bucks for an e-book with pro editing. The fan fic stuff would necessarily be cheaper, two bucks an anthology maybe. I've bought a couple of Twelfth Planet Press titles recently and their New Ceres model looks a good one, but its definitely all pro. They do freebie bits to draw in the paying public and that's what got me in, as well as DF and Matthew Farrer having some goods on display.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted August 16, 2010
And JUST to ensure that we don't have a complete BLOWOUT, adding to what Murph has already suggested, I would....almost head for an EXTERNAL party to vet, depending on what set up GETS UP!. WHY?, well, it saves me having to CAP FLINTHART'S ARSE co's he knocked back A submission I sent in....get me drift!.

It has the potential for tears...but hey, its a big bad fkn world and ya don't always win the first time around.

Now ref CAPPING DIRK...I WAS ONLY KIDDING...HONEST!

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted August 16, 2010
Hav, DF'd just have Proctor George Gordon deal with you and trust me, that bloke knows a shit load about FKN CAPPING!

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Sweet Jane Says mumbles...

Posted August 16, 2010
Flint would toss you like a bag of rotten potatoes.

J.

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted August 16, 2010
ROTTEN POTATOES HEY!........

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MickH ducks in to say...

Posted August 16, 2010
Matt, if put one on each horn we'd almost turn him into an OSpray, I don't think we'd get him airbone though given the power to weight requirements! :)

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MickH puts forth...

Posted August 16, 2010
Why Rotten ones?

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted August 16, 2010
Mick / Matt, unless you pair are considering "ROTAG", I think it is..well any ways, LOTS OF FKN ROCKET ASSISTED PROPULSION...its a NON FLIER..so to speak..lol

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted August 16, 2010
Point.

Parody and Explody goodness. I wouldn't let that stop you . . .some of the 1632 stories started out as gags. Brillo the Ram was one. You don't have to like it as a reader. In some cases it allows story divergence and sometimes you can bring new readers.

Look . . . . a simmering Rhino romance in a bodice ripper kinda way is possible. Menage a trois?

Buncha cargo cult Papuans decide to head for the promised land.

American kids in Australia loosing their Americaness.

War brides . . .people in detention camps. Rebel groups.

How about a bunch of Australian Republicans heading out with Turnbull as colony leader.

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John is gonna tell you...

Posted August 16, 2010
I agree with Rhino

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Abigail would have you know...

Posted August 16, 2010
I wouldn't pay to read the mini burger; not because there aren't some talented writers/ intelligent writers , I'm sure. If you want one reader's POV on this, it's this:

There is just SO much information to read -papers, the Burger and associated blogs; not to mention novels,staying in touch wiht close friends by email; work of some sort for most of us---put all that together and where is fanfic on the list? It doesn't even make it to my list, given all the above.

One reaches saturation point and then the thought of **paying** to read fanfic? even getting a chance to read it no, you probably wouldn't if you were like me and my friends. Like I said, it's no reflection on quality;not snobbery; some very good writers are doing so as fans.

Anyway, that's just one tiny slice of the cyber audience.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted August 16, 2010
I gave this a little thought this afternoon and I think there are scale issues. I think we are over estimating the market & underestimating the effort required.

Just for the sake of numbers lets say 500 copies (probably generous) were sold @ $3 per = $1500 total.

If a professional manuscript groomer spends 5 hours per (barest minimum) & a compilation has 10 pieces = 50 hour investment.

At Best Case Scenario with no legals, costs, or anything thats $30 per hour.

Sorry, it was a nice idea but I can't see a professional looking at it for that price.

If Birmo's virtual books turn into massive money spinners and he hits Crighton / King / Earls levels of mega wealth, then perhaps he'd consider sponsoring a project.

It's a bit of a bummer, because there are really really great ideas out there building, branching and budding from the Alt. Reality that Birmo crafted for us. But they are hamstrung by the reality that few have the skill nor the time to develop the skill to craft the story properly.

The only way those ideas could ever really work is with A: considerable guidance & effort expended. Or B: at the MiniBurger where I accept clunky sentances and obsessive detail on personal hobby horses.

Perhaps we need a set of critique traffic lights over there:

Red = any comment not 100% glowing is Not Fkn Welcome & will be met with rapid punches to the throat.

Yellow = Grammar & typos please, but I'm happy with the story.

Green = Gimme what ever feedback you've got.

Either way much respect to that masked man who tends the MiniBurger.

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Sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 17, 2010
4.99 minimum for a birmo authored thing.

Publishing in installments didnt really work for Stephen king (the plant ebook) Green Mile magazine style but then maybe things have moved on...

0.99 for an edited Birmo forwarded fan fiction thing. Maybe like alot of the startrek published books is that we know its not absolutly canon but still enjoy the take on it like:

http://www.amazon.com/New-Voyages-Star-Trek/dp/0553246364

which has a great story about the real original series actors being transported into the real startrek universe- wonder if it inspired the galexy quest concept?

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mckinneytexas would have you know...

Posted August 17, 2010
"Like Tarl and others I question whether the boys club atmosphere prevalent at the ‘Burger would allow inhouse editing here to be ruthless enough to be competent."

I can do ruthless. I'll start right now. Get a f'ing business agent, pay him/her on commission. You've established your chops, so you should likewise be able to get a competent editor for a cut of the deal. Incentives all the way around. And, get a business plan: why one AoT sequel. You have one of the best universes around to work with and an established brand.

You should consider up to three additional AoT's, 10, 20 and 30 years out, continuity and unfolding drame. Maybe blow the world up in the end, but that's for you to decide. Or, maybe blow it up in the middle. But, same format as before: high/middle/low POV's. Fanfic to follow at 6 month intervals. You need a committee, anonymous, to pick your best fanfics. You should not be on that committee--too many hurt feelings. Fanfic contributors work for free, full releases, etc. in advance in exchange for being considered for publication.

Oh, and 10 bucks a throw. Jesus.

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted August 17, 2010
Its interesting.

Q. Would I spend more time on the grammar, structure and associated bits.....YES!.

But then again, I also do it because its for shits n giggles, its an outlet and I like fkn doing it, so for me, yeah, I would have a crack at AoT perhaps, though for mine, I also want a 5-10 years BEFORE the event as well.

Maybe that's because I use Intense as my outlet and I want A BOOK LENGTH STORY!, even if its got enough initial ..hell, consistent holes in it and grammatical boo boos to sink a fkn battleship.

One thing is for sure, nothing ventured is nothing.. I mean NOTHING GAINED and to be honest, the down sides are not sufficient enough for mine to knock this on its arse.

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Brian reckons...

Posted August 17, 2010
SHit.

I agree with Havock. Some of us want to be authors. Some of us are here for the fun.

Its a Gideons Band sort of thing.

Some will take one road, some the other.

You know that up front. But its worth an experiment. 12 months should show a trend. Enthusiastic start. A drop up and hopefully a build up again.

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Abigail mutters...

Posted August 17, 2010
One of the issues with publishing in installments (Sparty just reminded me of this when he said it didn't really work for S King)--is that it leaves you open to having your ending written by your audience's demands--don't you think? JB, I'm not addressing this to you, personally, I mean generally this is a problem. Charles Dicken serialised his work in the newspaper and he had to write the ending he wrote for Great Expectations because of that. Ok, a long time ago, a different medium, but does that issue persist when the audience watches the story unfold and pays you "as you go" ?

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Legless has opinions thus...

Posted August 17, 2010
$4.99.

$1.99 is laughable.

As I bought a Kindle a few weeks ago, I'm still impulse buying books just to see if I like an authors style and $5.99 is the tops I'll pay for unknown (to me) author. So if you'relooking to pick up new readers that's the price-point I'd go for...

Cheers

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted August 17, 2010
@Legless, thats in the vicinity I'm now looking at.

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 17, 2010
@ JB

Damn. :))

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Heinz is gonna tell you...

Posted August 18, 2010
In case it interests you - I just got my copy of AFTER AMERICA in Germany. Might be the first, so, who knows.

And if you do an AoT sequel, i would be glad to spring 5 or even 8 $ US for it and read it on my iPad (which is much more book-lilke than Kindle.

Keep writing the good stuff

Heinz

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Dex mutters...

Posted August 19, 2010
I vote for about $5.00 US minimum. I'd pay more, but I really enjoyed the series.

I don't know how this might work, but here in the States the Panera Bread chain is experimenting with a "Pay what you think it's worth" system.

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WalkingShaw asserts...

Posted August 19, 2010
Luxury goods often command a premium. Since we are all waiting to see what happens in the AoT future - isn't that a luxury we'd all be prepared to pay for?

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SAS would have you know...

Posted September 6, 2010
I would say a good Ebook should be £3-£4 UK pounds. Not the £14 I am currently seeing for badly written pieces.

Publishers/Authors can set there own price on Amazon not sure how it works on other sites though.

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Respond to 'What price an e-book?'

Pepsi Mega Challenge.

Posted August 13, 2010 by John Birmingham
I've decided to wait until the book's been out in the US for a week or so before cracking open the barrel o' spoilers, but I've found reading the thread below (that one turned into a Jackson Blackstone discussion) really useful. It's helped me tweak a couple of important points while I've been plotting out book 3 this week.

In that spirit, and to give you a taste of what I've been up to, I've decided to reboot After America this weekend. Pretend it hadn't been written.

So you're sitting at a blank screen needing to block out Book 2 in the series.

It's four years since the Wave arrived. Three since it lifted.

You can choose any four character's you want from Without Warning and follow their stories through this new, as yet unwritten novel, tentatively called After America.

Who you gonna pick, and what's gonna happen to them?

45 Responses to ‘Pepsi Mega Challenge.’

Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 13, 2010
Ooh! Ooh! Sir! Sir! Can I share the Havock charracter around. Tag team him like with the rest of the Cognoscenti?

PS Wont be around for this. I expect to see great things when I get back.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted August 13, 2010
Mr Lee & Miss Jules most excellant Pacific Adventure.

Old style freebootin' with raids on maritime traffic, vlunerable outposts and wenching. Lots 'n lots of wenching.

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Domestic Daze. reckons...

Posted August 13, 2010
Havock did it. It was ALL HIS FCKN FAULT. The end.

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Monster Yuppy reckons...

Posted August 13, 2010
Def the crew of the Aussie Rules "salvaging" military items from floating empty US warships and then selling on the Black market. IE a nuke...

Miss Jules and the Rhino taking on hostile forces/pirates and then using the treat of the nuke to land refugees from South AMerica in Hawaii...

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Orin mutters...

Posted August 13, 2010
I probably would have zoomed out - used new characters entirely to tell the wider geopolitical story about what happens to the rest of the world when the US effectively ceases to exist. Somewhat like the fall of the Galactic Empire in Asimov's Foundation books. Maybe moved forward like Asimov did, rather than having concurrent narratives, do the 5 years later, 10 years later, 20 years later approach - a shortened Canticle for Leibowitz. What happens when the most powerful empire in history suddenly ceases to exist. What rises to replace it?

I might also have played with "what caused the Wave" as it didn't seem random. If Without Warning had started with an asteroid impact or supervolcano wiping out the continental USA there wouldn't be that dangling question about what actually caused the event in the first place.

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lostatlunch would have you know...

Posted August 13, 2010
The wider world is big place ? Mr. Chavez had question to answer. Isreal was going into a world of pain. An Australian POV or non ally vision would have been interesting. Instead we got rhino goes to NYC.

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jennicki ducks in to say...

Posted August 13, 2010
Hum....lessee...uhhhhhhhhhhhh...yes.

Caitlin, please!

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mckinneytexas reckons...

Posted August 13, 2010
What Orin said. Exactly.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted August 14, 2010
I think if one wanted a book that focused on the rest of the planet then perhaps the best way to have achieved that would have been to kill off the remaining 15 million Americans. So I would have made tweaks back in Without Warning in order to get Orin's projected Book Two that didn't happen.

Here is what I would have done in a different Without Warning.

1. No Seattle, Alaska, Puerto Rico or Hawaii. I'd have expanded the Wave's effect to neutralize those regions.

2. I would have crafted a military catastrophe for the forces deployed overseas. That means U.S. forces do not effect a fighting extraction out of the Middle East. Even if they do extract themselves, it becomes a bigger question.

Just where do they go?

3. I'd narrow the American point of view to two characters. Caitlin would be one, I suppose Bret would be the other. That eliminates any geopolitical discussions among the surviving major combatant commanders.

4. I'd focus on what the British and Australian governments were doing, creating POV characters in line with the Lingle and Ritchie characters in the original version.

You see, if you want to make sure someone stays down, it is probably best to kill as many of them as you can. 15 million people can cause a fair amount of aggravation if they set their minds to it.

That said, given what the actual version of Without Warning left us with, I can't see how you could have a novel that didn't entail a trip back into the Wave effected zone UNLESS you left the Wave in place.

So long as the Wave is in place, the U.S. can't get at her assets.

My two cents.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy mutters...

Posted August 14, 2010
I notice A Canticle for Lebowitz comes up a lot. I like unhappy endings myself per ala On the Beach.

That said, I found Canticle to be a pretty dull book. It portrays a very stereotypical view of the original Middle Ages as a time of misinterpretation and zero intellectual growth. It also features the old trope of "What happened before will happen again," so by the end of the novel they nuke themselves again.

If you want an unhappy ending, turn the Wave back on and blast some other part of the planet. Or have a number of small Waves which appear at random, frequently appearing and disappearing. That will create that futile sense that everything is pointless and the best thing to do is party up until the end hits (which was the message of On the Beach in my mind).

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted August 14, 2010
A bit of time at the pool gave me this idea for After America following the assigned challenge parameters.

Four characters:

1. Kipper-Same Place as actual novel.

2. Caitlin-Leave in England, follow actual novel plotline

3. Culver-Leave in Seattle with Kipper.

4. Miguel-Leave in Australia

The Post Wave United States is completely sterilized of all living things. There are no animals, no plants, no insects, not even a microbe. It is as close to total death as you can get.

1. One effect of the Wave is that it leeches all nutrients from the soil, making it impossible to grow anything.

2. Another effect of the Wave is that any piece of tech found in the region simply doesn't work. In fact, by time survey teams enter the region, most cities are crumbling to dust.

3. A final effect of the Wave is that most viable resources and raw materials are useless. Say you want to salvage copper? It falls apart in your hands. Want to draw oil up from the wells in Texas? You get nothing but sludge and mud.

Since moving back into the Wave affected Zone is pointless, Kipper has to find a way to secure the remaining viable territory and protect it from threats within and without. In Alaska he finds that he has to deal with Jackson Blackstone, running for State Governor. He also has to deal with angry, starving veterans who froze to death over the winter. Culver does his best to help manage things.

Miguel gets used to live in Australia where he finds that not all Australians are thrilled that he is there, especially with an increased influx of refugees trying to get into the country.

Caitlin still has to put paid to the Banana. She goes to Europe to see to it.

The Blackstone/Kipper confrontation eventually destroys the remaining population centers, leaving only those safely outside of US territory alive.

That'd be one way to go about doing it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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mckinneytexas reckons...

Posted August 14, 2010
What I meant, and what I thought Orin meant, was a bit more higher level stuff, sort of like the AoT series where got the high/middle/low perspective from all major antagonists. Not saying I am not really enjoying AA at all, just that inferring the big picture from the passing comments of those affected by policy, except for Kipper, leaves me looking for more background.

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Orin asserts...

Posted August 14, 2010
Yup - I was talking more about the structure of Canticle or Foundation rather than the content.

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HAVOCK is gonna tell you...

Posted August 14, 2010
yeah, interesting what Murph and Mckinneytexas mention, whilst I like 2 as it stands, I would use, seeing as the question has been asked, RED STORM RISING as the basis, simply put, thats AoT, into one big arse fkn book, looking at the global stage and how it all plays out.

Thats a really big question I suspect that's still on every bodies mind, just HOW well has Aus fared and the rest of the planet. Whilst this may well ne answered in the 3rd instalment, two could still be global and up to the 3rd versions point in time

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WarDog mumbles...

Posted August 14, 2010
Culver # as is, rebuilding, reclaiming America from a strategic view point, dealing with political expectations.

Miguel # as is, I thought his tale added some good colour and view of the Culver/Blackstone interaction.

## I would have excluded the minutae of the play in NewYork

## I would have excluded the Caitlin/Banna story

# I would have included some strategic play by other world powers looking to lay claim to segments of the US. And how Culver deals with that.

# I would have done a thread on the intense search that must be on for the obviously artifical cause of the Wave. Every security body in the world would be on that. It was either a failed experiment ala WoC or a directed attack at the US. In either case it is a highly effective area denial device / mass execution method, and it appears to leave non-life forms intact. Ironically exactly what Culver wanted to clear NY. Was the device destroyed in the Wave? Who were the designers/perpetrators? Why aren't they working for us?

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El Coqui reckons...

Posted August 14, 2010
If you recall, in one of my fanfic posted to the miniburger I proposed an extraterrestrial source for the wave. A bit more SF that the readers may want. However, the idea that it was the equivalent of a drive by shooting had a dark appeal for me.

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damian asserts...

Posted August 14, 2010
I haven't read Canticle... but came across it in another forum recently and made a note to. I guess it's straight to Amazon for me.

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joe asserts...

Posted August 14, 2010
well, I'd like to hear a little more from Mr Lee the Gurkha, after the MV Aussie Rules gets confiscated. Should provide a personal perspective for what goes on in the Asia-Pacific arena.

Would like a POV of how Blackstone got to Governor, and what he knows about the real goings on in Texas.

the Banana has to get it somewhere, my choice would be a completely random and unexpected accident, possibly involving castor-bean tainted felafel or a stray round from a child-soldier-trainee-martyr in an African jihadi camp....

A short cameo of Saddam trying to take out a contract on Trey Parker and Matt Stone......

Hm. That's four already. damn.

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yankeedog would have you know...

Posted August 14, 2010
Well, I have THE definitive reboot right here. Took me fifteen minutes to write and I didn't need to pick four different characters.

Wanna read it? Here 'tis:

“Oh no you don’t.” President James Kipper jumped up from his desk. “I’m not going anywhere with anyone until you tell me exactly what’s happening, right now.”

“It’s the Wave, sir,” cried Ronnie. “It’s gone.”

-------

“However, Mr. President,” said Admiral Rockaway, “We have another issue. If you’ll follow us to the Comms Room…”

The Presidential party scurried down the hall into a room crammed with all manner of electronic gear, from scrounged satellite uplinks to an old citizens’ band radio.

“Sir, our satellites picked up a flash over the North Pacific approximately 450 miles south of the Aleutians and we’ve been receiving this for the last five minutes.” The admiral hit a button, filling the room with what sounded like a machine-generated voice.

“…inton. This is USS Hillary Clinton. Requesting assistance. Crew incapacitated. Automatic defensive protocol active. Repeat, this is USS Hillary Clinton…”

“Ahh, shit…” Kipper said. “We don’t need this now!”

“What is it, Mr. President?” asked Ronnie.

“Uptimers!” President Kipper said, with a grimace. He turned to the sergeant at the desk. “Patch me through to them.”

The sergeant hit a switch. “You’re on, sir.”

“USS Clinton! This is President James Kipper of the United States of America! Go back through your time hole or vortex or TARDIS or whatever is what got you here! We don’t need you here screwing up things with your fancy fusion-powered ships or funky moral ideas or, God forbid, flash fried tofu with jerk sauce! I’ve got enough problems here! And definitely no death rap metal music! Go find the dinosaur planet or something! Kipper out!”

The President rubbed his eyes as if that would wipe out the forming headache. “They won’t go away. There goes the neighborhood!”

THE END

There. 290 words. 15 minutes. AND it ties the two series of books together, enhancing sales of both. How cool is that?

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brian asserts...

Posted August 14, 2010
Well re : The Wave.

ALways wondered if it was a micro wave weapon. Sota a flash cook thigie. This would take care of anything over a certin size while allowing vertrbrates like fish or seals to keep going.

Theory 2 : The Scientologists were right and the Thebans are back.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted August 14, 2010
That is actually pretty cool, dawg. But how would Kipper know about the uptimers?

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Orin swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
Because he read AoT in the WW timeline. It got published because in that timeline, when you were researching Leviathan at the library you thought "fuck it, lets go with the book where shit gets blown the fuck up and do this thinky book about Sydney later". Kipper simply realized that it was cross dimensional travel.

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The Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 14, 2010
Sure, I have had 19 double sapphire and tonics in the last 6 hours but McKinney's idea is GENIUS!

Note to self: telling a 20 something hard body that one is a literary action hero doesn't go far. But leaving a $200 tip works.

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yankeedog mumbles...

Posted August 14, 2010
(waves hands dismissively) Technicalities, JB, technicalities! I'm not worried about little things like plot points.

I'd go with Orin's theory, though it would require probably another thirty or forty words to the novel.

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Andrew McKinney reckons...

Posted August 14, 2010
Rhino, or casually asking, "hey, got change for a thousand?"

Most of my ideas make more sense with a load on. I'm a freakin lawyer. Jesus.

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Andrew McKinney is gonna tell you...

Posted August 14, 2010
YD--that was pretty damn clever.

JB--Kip would know BECAUSE HE'S THE PRESIDENT. It just takes one willing suspension of belief to make that story work. Just one.

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mckinneytexas reckons...

Posted August 14, 2010
Hey, I just realized that I posted under my day slave name. Sorry about that.

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Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
Firstly I would kill off Caitlin. She shits me to tears.

Maybe kill of Kipper too, like Caitlin he is merely the stereotype of a hero. The only difference is Kipper is Noble Good while Caitlin is Chaotic Good. Neither are particulary realistic characters making lifelike choices.

The four to Follow:

Al-Banna

Jed Culver

Mrs Kipper

Rhino, yes maybe but I feel he was a better character in the first book. In book 2 he has become too comic. He needs to be darker.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted August 15, 2010
Structure of Canticle I can see. I also agree with the higher order stuff.

YD, that is first class stuff.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Orin asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
Lobes is kinda Chaotic Neutral

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted August 15, 2010
"She shits me to tears"

Testify Bro Lobes.

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brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
@NWB

Yeah . . .about time for him to vent.Holds too much in.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted August 15, 2010
Oh Lobes and NBob you are so much trouble when Jennicki reads that.

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savo puts forth...

Posted August 15, 2010
well first up I would have had more on Tusk Musso. What the hell happened to him? He was in a very hard place ... then nuthin'

Barney Tench has to be able to give much more of both the inside storey of the presidency as well as the re-builing

Mr Lee, he's not mentioned after Rhino's second encounter.

Did Cpt Lohberger make it out of Iraq?

if not him then why has Cesky's hatred lasted so FKN long and been allowed to grow so expensive?

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savo is gonna tell you...

Posted August 15, 2010
Texas ... I remember: WASH THE OLIVES

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savo asserts...

Posted August 15, 2010
Tusk went to Seattle initially. From there he retuned to Panama to conduct punitive attacks and destabilisation actions against the South Americans involved in the Gitmo incursion.

Once the Wave went down Barney was tasked with surveying the U. Aa modern day Lewis and Clark going backwards across the country, logging what is left using a good deal of technology as well as living off the land

Mr Lee arrives in Oz. The local authorities take a dim view of the whole farrago and during the 'Aussie Rules' crew's short internment Lee dies a poor sad and pointless death devastating the Ghurkhas Mexicans and Lady Julianne alike. Death directly attributed to Cesky.

Lohberger looses many more troops withdrawing. Survivors guilt eats at him, eventually he leaves the Army in Britain. He is snapped up by a false flag operationn set up by AlBana. Not realising he's been duped until well into his first operation into Europe he falls off the map for months before coming under the notice of Mr Dalby's group.

Cesky's expensive, convoluted and pointlessly complex 'Blofeld' style of vengeance didn't sit well with me. There has to be a very huge back story about Julianna & Rhino set up, one that made them so untouchable in Oz, Seattle or anywhere else one that their deaths could only implicate Cesky, so that the only place they can be hit is NY,NY.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted August 16, 2010
Savo, you don't hold grudges, do you?

I'm an expert in holding grudges and I can easily see, if I had the resources at hand, doing what Cesky did. Besides, the purpose of the revenge wasn't just to kill them.

It was to make them suffer as much as he did.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted August 16, 2010
I ain't ascared of Jennicki, Birmo.

She's all butterflys and daisys smooshy with love @ the moment and besides she has her ah hands full with Enjoy Medway visiting.

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Sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 17, 2010
If the wave didnt go down all the way I'd have some survivors emerge - maybe having been down for the whole year waitin the thing out a volunteer popping up and disapperaing every so often.

the whole Isreal nuke thing is just so damn big that it really needs a POV character in the mid east or what is left of it. I know off camera its in the mind of the beholder but dont waste an apocalypse!

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Brian ducks in to say...

Posted August 17, 2010
@NWB

At least Medway has got her away from the TV.

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HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted August 18, 2010
Whilst I do not necessarily follow Lobes thought pattern in the “ he shits me to tears”, bit, lol. I Find her so fkn hot, spanky, jumpable and interesting its simply not fkn funny.

As much as this fkn kills me to say it, RHINO is not to shabby and here is where I tend to agree with Lobes..I think its wandered some way towards the comic, super hero, lets go Hollywood, the suggestion that the character be darker is a good call, but I would have KILLED THE FKR OFF!, maybe I am biased.....

Having said I suggest he be deader than dead, its a chance to bring in some of the aussie rules, although to be honest, I don’t think the AR being attacked would be the scene in which I would kill off the Rhino. A more befitting death, would take place with him trying to save a spanky wench during a mega gun fight, dying slowly and heroically from successive gun shot wounds an so forth. Either that or he accidently steps on an ANTI-TANK MINE an detonated its....Bits of RHINO all over the fkn place...YUM!.

Kipper..yeah, more would have been good, maybe we have Kipper start with the Military and the lead up to NY and whats taking place there, perhaps Air Force One style he gets attacked by other rogue elements, maybe thats where you get to kill off RHINO ......

Still need to think about this some more.

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted August 18, 2010
OH and whilst its just jumped into me head, what about this.

Spin off novels could be

Europe After America

Asia After America

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Nocturnalist is gonna tell you...

Posted August 20, 2010
S'pose I'd better throw my two teef in before this falls completely off the front page.

Four years since the Wave descended, three since it lifted. Any four characters. Right.

THE BACKDROP

Generally, the world has become more chaotic, and more multipolar. There are still powerful nations and blocs, but no one nation has stepped up to explicitly appoint itself the new alpha-dog.

India and China have both become far more muscular in asserting their interests in their respective neighbourhoods (India is playing rough around its own borders but not too far afield, instead using and enlarging its diaspora to try and build up more soft power; China has expanded its hard power by offering "assistance" in stabilising the now very unstable south-east Asia/Pacific but is hampered by internal tensions, food shortages and the united wall of distrust from its neighbours).

Russian leaders have done a lot of chest-beating about this being the Russian Century now the US is gone, and have whipped up enough nationalism to alarm Western Europe and the anglophone powers, but so far have really only just been able to arrest the slow crumbling of their nation's economy and morale.

The EU is just a shell, replaced by smaller, more pragmatic mutual aid/defence blocs in Western Europe and Scandinavia. The French government set up in exile in Germany biefly, but a concerted multinational effort to repacify and restabilise France (which spent a couple of years being battered back and forth between intifada cells and a nationalist/fascist backlash) is paying off and the government has recently moved back to Paris. Fear of a renewed and aggressive Russia at the head of a slavic bloc has pushed the western countries into tighter co-operation, with Poland and Ukraine being viewed as bulwarks.

Southeast Asia has collapsed into Balkanisation, with many nations warring, splintering or both. Governments trying to clamp down on their populations simply find their borders and armies shrinking. Piracy, gangsters and warlords have sprung up and staked out enclaves throughout the region. Indonesia initially held itself together but has started to fragment after the government was weakened by an unsuccessful coup.

In the group of territories known (to the annoyance of the inhabitants) as the American Remnant, President Kipper has been trying to get his military home, redistribute his population among what land his nation still possesses and maintain his own government's authority. He was seen as the compromise candidate between two growing camps in the Remnant: a vehemently anti-centralist ideology that sees this new world as a return to frontier days and everyone for themselves, and the movement gathering around Blackstone who are calling for harsher central control and the explicit militarisation of government and the economy (this got a mention in the "actual" AA). Kipper didn't fire Blackstone but suspended him while an inquiry into his actions was put together, but a clique of supporters has been steadily applying retroactive spin to Blackstone's actions. By the time of the election that appointed Kipper, divisions over the issue had reached toxic proportions and the vote and inauguration were carried out under a cloud, with real doubts about whether the new President would actually be able to get the inquiry off and running.

A general note on politics and culture: one effect of the Wave on first-world societies has been ruinous, possibly fatal damage to the trust between government and governed. Speculation in the media has been feverish about the nature of the Wave, and the military barricades around the "teardrop tip" have been repeatedly tested by all manner of people from journalists to militia whackos to cult pilgrims and more - it's now widely held that that's where the Wave was projected from, and the idea that "They" knew the Wave was coming and how it was projected has sunk so deep into the discourse that people suggesting it was a natural phenomenon or an accident are considered the fringe weirdos. One reason that governments in even relatively untouched countries are having such a tough time is that their own legitimacy has been eroded. Vanishingly rare is the citizen who hasn't spent some time wondering if their leaders were really as surprised by the Wave as they're making out.

So. It's about now that the Wave lifts.

Despite most nations having contingency plans for this they're still caught flatfooted. For days, in a mirror image of the Wave's arrival, the world is glued to its screens watching as a drone flies over the old boundary, then a helicopter flown by Air Force volunteers. Then a couple of jeeps drive across the line and back. The photo of a young soldier shyly holding up a flower she's picked from land that was inside the Wave a day and a half ago becomes an instant icon of history.

Activating his own contingency plans, Kipper starts ordering the military out to strategic points around the barrier, and issues declarations about the settlement of the continent. It's the sort of thing that came out in AA: allowing new settlers in under certain conditions, exchanging recolonisation work for citizenship, organising the reclamation of the cities and the repopulation of...

Yeah, well, his declarations are drowned out in the rush. The post-Wave land race is ON, and Kipper might as well be trying to catch a tsunami in a coffee cup. There simply isn't enough military to control all the borders, and soon the army shifts its attentions to lunging inland to seize old industrial centres, military stockpiles and commanding positions in agricultural areas. There still aren't the numbers to establish decisive control and Kipper tries a relocation programme from Alaska and Hawaii, first with heavy incentives and then with talk of force.

Meanwhile Blackstone and his supporters have simply taken a large number of military vehicles and civilian trucks and set off from Seattle on a cross-country expedition to New York and Washington, declaring their intention to take the capital and refound the "legitimate" government there. They quickly attract a following of sympathisers, and the great drive, quickly named the Washington Convoy, grows larger and larger to the point where parts of it start peeling off or remaining behind, leaving a trail of "seed communities" loyal to Blackstone across the continent.

(The semi-official anthem of the Convoy is "Holy Grail" by Hunters and Collectors, to the intense chagrin of Mark Seymour.)

By now the Convoy and its little seed enclaves aren't the only ones there. The old US is turning into a crazy patchwork of new colonies and micro-states, founded by refugees surging in from Asia and Africa, long trains of settlers spilling over from the chaotic recolonisation of Mexico, and first-world settlers with motivations as diverse as their origins. Some co-operate with the Kipper government and follow its rules for settlement, some pay lip-service to it while they do as they please, many don't bother with the lip-service, and many more, mainly third-world refugees, probably aren't even aware that technically a United States government still exists. Some are just wandering bands of looters and bandits (I like "road agents", I'll keep that), others are moving briskly ahead with building communities and societies: the motley convoys of settlers who have combined to re-found Savanna as the Free City of New Prague, for example, have already made it the centre of a rapidly-growing little polity. Blackstone has christened these new settlements "mushrooms" and has publicly promised that every one of these trespassers who stays on American soil will have their corpse dumped into the sea. Kipper hasn't taken quite such a brutal line - he's been resisting calls for a "glass fence", ie securing the southern border with a blanket of nuclear detonations - but is privately trying to work out what the hell to do. Even if he still had control of all the assets that departed with Blackstone he knows he simply doesn't have the force available to sweep all these new people back out of America.

And at this point we begin...

AFTER AMERICA - A NOVEL

Caitlin's in Europe, participating in the above-mentioned repacification of France. She's just led a team of agents from all sorts of nations in cleaning out a noxious terrorist cell from which Al-Banna was running a large chunk of the jihadi side of the fascist/jihadi militia wars that have been ripping France up since the Wave. Opening in media res gives a nice actiony start and closes off the Al-Banna thread; on the other hand opening after the final raid and Al-Banna's death with Caitlin waking up in hospital gives a nice nod back to WW. I guess I'd write both openings and see which one worked better.

Caitlin is debriefed and told she's being taken out of the field for a while. Exhausted and without much purpose now Al-Banna's dead, she agrees: she wants to go home to the States. This is where the exposition of what's happened in those places starts getting layered in.

A large gang of road agents are descending on a military supply post somewhere in a still almost-empty part of southern America. (Their leader is a raspy-voiced bodybuilder in a hockey mask... no? Oh, okay.) They come down on the skeleton garrison like a wolf on the fold... and are massacred in a clinically murderous ambush. The ambushing force is part of Tusk Musso's command as he works to secure strategic assets in this part of the country. He's been gradually eliminating the worst elements from his area of operations, with the help of some allies he's rather ambivalent about: citizen militia units from the growing federation of colonies around New Prague. Tusk is deeply conflicted. These people have risked their lives alongside his own, and to engage them is outside his orders. He admires their bravery and frontier spirit. On the other hand, they've settled in his country and are making it their own, technically they're invaders, and he knows it may well come to the point where he'll have to kill them, or they him. These tensions are evident as he speaks with the militia leaders about their ongoing joint war on the road gangs. This thread is where we drip-feed the exposition about what's been going on with the new settlements.

President Kipper is arguing with his commanders about the Washington Convoy. The Convoy hasn't been moving with particular haste, but is now within striking distance of its destination. If Blackstone retakes the capital the symbolic and propaganda value will be immense - Culver upbraids Kipper for not getting around to making a big ceremonial reoccupation of Washington a priority, to let Americans know their nation is still going. This is where we start layering in the background about the Kipper/Blackstone schism.

(All the exposition suitably subtle, of course, and done by hints over many chapters. No long "As you know, Bob..." speeches.)

We close out with new intelligence that Blackstone is getting more active and aggressive in absorbing new colonists that the Convoy gets near. Contrary to Blackstone's own rhetoric he's shown willing to recruit "illegitimate" colonists if they share his broad agenda, and Culver now has reports that Blackstone's forces have attacked officially-sanctioned settlements. Scene ends with the question hanging in the air: will Blackstone's forces lift arms against Kipper's?

Jules has carved out a nice little niche for herself. The state of south-east Asia means there's good work for people with boats and guns and the skills to use them, and the Aussie Rules is now the flagship of a little flotilla with a good reputation in certain shady circles. Her opinion of the whole North American business is that she's well out of it: Rhino insisted on being taken home once the Wave lifted, but as far as she's concerned he's welcome to it. Give her a nice entrance chapter: from sipping chilled champagne at a nice soiree at a Thai local baron's fortified seafront manor to making a dashing escape the following morning after, I dunno, some sort of double-cross or something, heading up and around the Pacific Rim for a while until the local heat dies down.

Tusk gets approached by an old colleage who turns out to have thrown in with Blackstone. He wants to sound Tusk out about switching sides, having his unit up stakes and meet the Convoy up north. Tusk angrily knocks him back, saying he has his orders and will stay at his post. The envoy points out that Tusk is openly collaborating with illegal settlers: how does he square that with the uniform he wears? Scene finishes with the envoy leaving, promising reprisals when Blackstone is properly in charge.

The first tense standoff between actual military elements of the Kipper and Blackstone factions. Pilots from Kipper's forces make closer and closer flyovers of the Convoy, whose antiaircraft weapons are tracking them. Ratchet up the suspense: whichever side actually opens fire will devastate the other but being seen to have fired first could be a fatal disadvantage in an open war when everyone else is choosing sides. The encounter ends with no shots fired. Yet.

In Vladivostok Jules has been hired by a man with a blatantly false ID for an odd mission: ferry this American woman across to the West Coast, making a point of avoiding Hawaii. Going over it with her crew they conclude that this woman - Katie or Caitlin or someone - needs to arrive in the States by a route that's inconspicuous and deniable. Eh, what the hell, the money's good.

Their passenger, of course, is Caitlin, who's being inserted back into the US clandestinely: Blackstone is known to have former intelligence people in his camp who may know to be on the lookout for her. Her mission will be to pose as a disaffected special operative who's defected from her post in Europe and returned home to join the Convoy and work for Blackstone. Once in the Convoy she's to cripple its operations and if possible assassinate Blackstone and selected members of his command.

Okay, it's late, and that's about all I've got worked out. I think that'd be about the first third of the book accounted for. I'm thinking that the buildup would see Tusk drawn into the oncoming confrontation between the new colonists and pre-Wave Americans, Jules and Caitlin arriving on the California coast and meeting Rhino again, Caitlin travelling across the country to meet up with the convoy, encountering all the different flavours of the new colonists on the way. The climax of AA would be the fate of the Washington Convoy, Caitlin accomplishing her mission and Kipper back in control of the remnant. Then the denouement would have all these questions hanging open: the Kipper/Blackstone schism has left the American Remnant in even worse shape than before, while the colonies that Tusk has found himself in the middle of are thriving and new settlers are pouring in all the time. The end of AA would set up the third book to play that out.

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted August 22, 2010
My only criticism is that Blackstone wouldn't bother going to either New York or Washington. I suspect Washington is swampland after the Wave lifts. While it is symbolic, I do not think it is strategic. It may have been the center of the country in 1800 but it most certainly isn't in a post Wave world.

I'd write it off.

Someone like Blackstone is not going to be comfortable in New York City either. Just read up on McChrystal and you can get a pretty good read on what Blackstone might be like. He is no Wesley Clark.

Blackstone is going to go somewhere familiar to him, probably somewhere that he was stationed or somewhere that was once his home. He is also going to want some depth to defend against any possible incursions. Finally, he is going to want to go somewhere that has easy resources that can be exploited.

When you look at the map of the United States, and I did as the research assistant, Texas kept coming up as the answer. Texas still has oil. Texas has lots of depth for defense, excellent road network, port facilities, defense infrastructure, and most important of all it is precisely the opposite of Seattle in terms of culture.

Granted, the original culture was wiped in Without Warning but that is beside the point. The memory of that culture will still exist in the Seattle population.

Additional points.

If you want to control the interior of North America, you are going to have to control the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. They are key features that can not be ignored. Most probable resettlement sites are located on these rivers with connecting railway links (which is why Kansas City was selected, aside from the fact that Birmo spared it in Without Warning).

Going out to New York and Washington and ignoring "flyover country" is a poor choice. Even if Blackstone is trying to put as much distance between himself and Seattle he is not a complete idiot. If things went south he'd want a fallback position. Seattle, for better or worse, is it.

As for wildcat settlements, there will be some of that. I think so long as they remain harmless they will not be a problem.

The moment they become something other than that, I think they'll need to be dealt with. Either assimilated or destroyed.

If Kipper fails to do that then troops will probably rally to Blackstone. I know if a group of assholes from halfway across the planet invaded the country and our President didn't do anything about it I'd rally to someone who would.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Murphy reckons...

Posted August 22, 2010
On a side note, Matthew, I finally got your 40K book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Respond to 'Pepsi Mega Challenge.'

Electronic Felafels.

Posted August 4, 2010 by John Birmingham
Some of you may have seen my tweet the other night, where I fessed up that impulse bought the new Kindle. I went for the WiFi only graphite model, figuring that I didn't need to be downloading books on the go. Why did I go for the Kindle? Well, of course, there is the promise I made to myself that I would not invest in an iPad until my master Steve Jobs release the infinitely more powerful iPad 2 next year. And there was the little matter of my not being able to slake my gadget lust by laying hands on an iPhone 4 the other day. And I had had a few drinks.

But anyway, I've ordered one now and I'm going to make it work for me. Literally. I have huge volumes of reading I have to get through for work, particularly when researching books, and I am constantly hauling used books off to the secondhand bookstore to keep my shelves in order. So for those types of titles an e-reader would be useful. (And yes, Beeso, and iPad would be much more useful, but only for other things). So I'm cool with this impulse purchase.

However, I'm not that cool with the state of the e-book market. It's a fucking shambles. For instance Designated Targets and Final Impact are both available in Kindle versions, but not Weapons of Choice. W. T. F.

Apple's iBookstore is crippled for now by Cupertino's failure to secure comprehensive deals with all of the major publishing houses. There's just not much in there. But the much vaunted Amazon is not necessarily much better. Particularly if you do not have access to an American Amazon account. Because of the territorial rights issue, and because of the relative slowness of our local publishers in securing digital rights to their backlist, and of digitizing their back list when they do have the rights, the offerings available are pretty thin indeed. As an example, if you type in SM Stirling as a search term on the general Amazon home page, you'll get about 200 returns. On the Kindle page, you get just four.

Having begun to investigate electronic books seriously, I've had reason to think about my own backlist. Although Felafel has been a success everywhere it's been released, for instance, it has never been released in the US. An e-book version could do well there (although I would undoubtedly have to change the name of the first chapter). I started talking to my old publisher Michael Duffy about this the other day and he was very keen to look into the subject. As soon as we began to discuss it however, my thoughts turned to the aesthetics of e-book publishing.

Beeso will like this. The iPad seems a natural platform for a book like Felafel, or How To The A Man, both of which rely on rich dense layers of illustrations for some of their impact. Even when Felafel isn't deploying illustrations, it uses some quite unusual layout and design to achieve an effect. None of those tricks are available on the Kindle, or the Nook or pretty much any e-reader that uses an e-ink display. Anybody who's had a look at the Marvel comics app on the iPad will note just how lush and gorgeous and powerful those old full-color illustrations can be. That would still be the case even if they weren't displayed on an Apple tablet. But it would not be the case if they had to be displayed on a Kindle. You just wouldn't bother.

This makes me wonder whether or not e-books in future will become a differentiated medium, with some presenting as little more than gigantic slabs of text on cheap, almost disposable low end e-readers, while others work only as fully illustrated, aesthetically rich visual extravaganzas, requiring a much higher end display technology.

A final thought that occurred to me as I was pondering all this is that any such differentiation might be a way for publishers to maintain their hardcopy back lists. If you strip all of the graphical content out of something like Falafel, you could still publish a thick slab of very funny text on something like a Kindle, but you wouldn't necessarily cannibalize your hardcopy sales if people still felt the need to own a paperback to get access to the full experience of the book.

73 Responses to ‘Electronic Felafels.’

Surtac reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
Interesting thoughts, JB. I think you're on to something here.

I've been pondering the usefulness of an ebook reader myself, and have pretty much concluded that they're only useful for reading the text, and by association, probably only useful for fiction.

As you've noted with the Marvel example, anything graphics heavy or with much content in graphic form, is going to need something more like an iPad than a Kindle. School or uni textbooks, or the sort of material that Orin writes, that rely on graphical or pictorial delivery of information in significant amounts will never really work on a Kindle.

Having said that, I'm a book collector, so I'm still pretty much on the fence of the whole ebook thing.

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Tarl would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
I've had a Kindle for over a year now, and enjoy it. Since upgrading to the DX (large screen), even more. But after several bad experiences with Amazon e-books, I now use it only for e-books I've purchased from Baen Books (www.webscriptions.net) directly.

There are two problems with the Amazon books - their scans are mass-produced and not quality checked. On several books that had diagrams, the diagrams were completely illegible - they'd made JPEGs out of text, and dialed up the compression so high the text rendered as nothing more than a smear.

The other problem is DRM; I understand the need for DRM, but I'm not willing to trust yet another DRM vendor. The first time I got hammered by DRM was in November 1976 (!), but a computer vendor putting a time-bomb in his operating system to guarantee payment. Which we'd made, but they fouled up - and the timebomb went off thanksgiving morning. No technical support available for four days and we had a payroll to get out on friday. Ever since, every time I've dealt with DRM, I've gotten screwed in one form or another.

My fear with Amazon is what happened with DIVX; when the vendor gets tired of the game, the customer who has purchased DRM-protected media loses it all. I'm afraid that if Amazon gives up on Kindle, any collection of books I'd accumulated would vanish in a puff of greasy black smoke.

Before I trust another DRM vendor, there has to be some kind of escrow scheme to release customer binaries if the vendor loses interest. But nobody wants to address end-of-life issues for their product, so this will never happen.

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Tarl swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
Oh, and by the way - I see *17* e-books with Stirling's name on them at Webscriptions. With no DRM.

Blood Feuds

Blood Vengeance

Conqueror

Drakas!

Go Tell the Spartans

Ice, Iron and Gold

More Than Honor

Prince of Sparta

The Chosen

The City and the Ship

The Houses of the Kzinti

The Independent Command

The Prince

The Privateer: The Flight Engineer, Volume II

The Reformer

The Rising

Warlord

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
I think IPad type tablets are the way to go. Especially with all the links and scrolling doo -dads.

I have a Palm reader . . .and quite frankly its far too small for my eyesight these days. As a portable library? Its excellent. You Bluetooth it to whatever you want and away you go.

The tablets are excellent for home or office work but I remain to be convinced of their usefulness out and about the rest of the world. I like to read in daylight . . .I seldom bother with any screen based device in that context.

All that said . . .there will be a demographic push by the more gadget hip generations.

I think hardcopy media will drop away . . .but it will resurge. It just wont have the same market penetration that it once did. Bookstores will stay with us. The pleasure in just browsing bookshelves is a quasi social experience. I still go to libraries . . .basically to be surprised by something that I wouldn't have picked up by going to Amazon. I guess tactile feel has something to do with it.

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Legless mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
I've had my Kindle for a few days now and love it. From now on, the majority of my book purchases will be e-book purchases. If I can't get it for the Kindle then I'll likely not bother buying it.

Tarl's comments on DRM are valid. DRM is the Devils Work but it's trivial to strip the DRM out of e-books - I've already done that with a couple of books just to see how easy it was so I'm comfortable with buying from Amazon.

My set-up now is a Kindle reader on one of my servers that holds my whole library and the books I want to read on my Kindle. As my Kindle fills up, it's easy to just delete them from the Kindle and I can always reload them later if I need to. The nice thing about this setup is anything I buy directly with my Kindle also gets pushed out to my server based copy.

Cheers

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
Paper books are going to go the way live theatre did with the advent of TV.

They will go from being a genuine mass entertainment product to a niche that caters to a specialist market of enthusiasts only.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
I'll be a late adapter to e-books and wait until I get a later version of the i-Pad, like next year maybe. I could imagine reading text-only Felafels but they'd want to be cheap.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2010
My wife loves her kindle - possibly more than she loves me. I say that, not to engender sympathy, but to demonstrate just how much my wife loves her kindle.

I, on the other hand, fucking hate them. Everything was just fine until IT came into my home.

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Orin mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2010
DRM isn't about stopping everyone, it is about stopping casual piracy. While it may be too early to tell what is going to happen to the fiction industry, casual piracy is starting to grind the textbook industry into the ground. A colleague found one book of his, which had sold less than 5,000 copies, had been downloaded over 130,000 times. Prior to wider ebook piracy and availability books in the same series (but on previous versions of the operating system) would often sell something close to the number that have been downloaded (100K being the natural audience size for previous editions of that type of book). Whereas people might pirate a book and then buy the ebook version if it is $15 - they won't do the same with a textbook that costs $50. If it were true, my colleague would have picked up more than the number of paid sales he got.

Unfortunately with the significantly greater amount of editorial support required for a textbook (not only do you need your editors, you need qualified testers and checkers) the economics don't work below a certain price point. You can't write a textbook for less than $X and people won't pay more than $X/5 for an electronic textbook.

Where the iPad (and Kindle) may end up saving publishing is by making casual piracy on the platform complicated enough that most people go the honest route instead (because they will be reluctant to jailbreak their iPad to read the pirated stuff).

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Brian mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2010
@Lobes

'caters to a specialist market of enthusiasts only'

That already happens. Had a dinner chat with a book guy from England who specialised in limited runs of really old books. Quite interesting a limited 200 hard back run with quality paper and leather covers. I opined that it wouldn't be profitable. To the contrary . . .very profitable and far from a niche business.

In terms of longevity. The only other media that is more durable are clay tablets and stone carvings.

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Monster Yuppy is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2010
I have iBooks on my iPad, and I have the Kindle app for iPad as well.

I use Kindle WAY more than iBooks. Cos they have got more books. And I have an American Amazon A/C.

I really prefer reading "real" books, but can't lug books with me on my travels.

I am happy to use eBooks for most of my reading.

Th price is right for eBooks, but the availability is still lacking.

How FKN hard can it be for a publisher to put a price on a range of books?

If it is too high, Joe Punter just won't buy them..too low and they will up the price once they see the volume...

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Lobes reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
I'm sure its profitable. But not sure a 200 book run could be really considered mass market in the way paperbacks or TV shows are (or were).

Agree with you re durability though. For that reason publishing will always be around in some sort of form.

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Mark puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
The other problem is that the kindle uses a proprietary ebook format - not ePub, the open standard that is used by Nook and other eBook readers. It would be easy to get burn't not just by DRM, but by an inability to move your library to a better cheaper platform when it comes along.

There are many situations that a eInk reflective screen like the kindle is superior to iPad's transmissive LCD screen and vice versa.

The importance of ePub and other open formats is that it lets you read the same content on the most appropriate device for what you want to get done at the time.

Want to read something at the beach - grab your eInk based reader. Want to read something in the dark use your iPad.

If you read enough - the savings on digital purchases would actually equal the cost of both an iPad and an eBook reader.

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Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
I found myself rather unexpectedly in possession of a Kobo, Borders' proprietary ereader, the other week. My father and I have both ahd a play with it, and we agree that it's a tremendously clever device with a lot of potential (he's thinking speed and ease of obtaining books, I'm thinking lots of travel reading without having to agonise over which paperbacks to cram into my luggage) but flaws as well.

He summed it up with "it makes every book look the same" - individual books have a certain character and feel to them that helps make them individual reading experiences, which are homogenised by a reader that imposes a universal layout, font and so on. That bears on your point.

As for textbooks, I'm not so sure that e-ink could never support good diagrams or even short animations, but one thing e-readers need to do is better, more intuitive flippability. I got to the afterword in my Kobo's "Aesop's Fables" and found references to a couple of the Fables that had been coined in specific response to certain political events. In a paper book I'd have left my thumb in the afterword and flipped back to find them to give them another scan in light of that knowledge, but here I thought about all the cycling through chapter menus to get forward and back and dropped the idea.

One prediction I rather liked about e-books generally was that e-editions would become the norm for someone who wanted to read a book once and wasn't bothered about keeping it or about a reading "experience", while paper books would evolve into a boutique market - short print runs, handsome and properly crafted binding, signatures and illustrations and so on. Sort of like the difference between the song you download and delete after a couple of listens and the album you buy on vinyl in the numbered limited-edition collectors' box. I can see myself in both of those markets. I don't mind zipping through an ebook or a cheap paperback, but I also very much like having my Absolute Sandman editions with the redone colour and leather binding and slipcase, or my Liber Chaotica special edition with the brushed-steel covers.

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beeso reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
Having spent all morning with an iPad developement team making my throat roar, and all week thinking about how things work on such devices i'll throw this in. Both felafel and how to be a man could probably exist as an app, or even a birmo app for those two, with fan fic and the like. Create a visual look for the text to be presented at its best, with some cool little animations and the like, it would probably sell better than a straight ebook because of the style helping sell the product. But i'd still put it up on the kindle store too, cause there is nothing more irritating than looking for something in the most obvious place and it not being there. Case in point a kids author i like has a five part series, part 1, 2, 4, and 5 are on the kindle store, but not 3? WTF? Amazon should be employing someone to chase down and eliminate those little glitches.

I'm more and more convinced that the E market is going to outstrip the big companies. Case in point is that beautiful marvel app. What they need is a subscription plan for all comics published before, say, 1995. Take out the really big iconic issues if you want, but that would be silly. Then let me download 10 at a time, or hold ten at a time on my device. I can already get and read them all for free anyway, but this way i can give marvel some money for the privilege.

Think of it like a drug dealer. Let me sample a large amount of my older crappier product for next to nothing to get me hooked, then charge me a premium for the new super hydro hairy episodes.

Be very interesting to see if publishing houses can keep up.

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Nocturnalist mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
Eh, this is what happens when I wander off to lunch with my comment half-written - I get scooped by Lobes and Brian when I get back and finish it.

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Brian mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
I think the proper way to look at e-books is in terms of "a keeper' and 'ephemera'.

I have "keepers' . . .that I print off and use to highlight points, annotate explanations or to explode meaning by putting in diagrams. Orins turf really . . .but I enhance that printout by personalising it.

'Ephemera' most fiction novels and music fall into that category. My daughter has a small collection of 1,500 songs. It reminds me of a mate who a 10 foot long wall full of cassette tapes. Beyond a certain point . . .its just hoarding. I was scanning my e-book library a few weeks back . . .and I wondered "Do I really need all these?'

In some ways bigger and faster memories and harddrives is just an excuse to never have to clean out the garbage.

But . . .that's what e-readers are for . . .to collect ephemera.

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Gary Kemble is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hi Orin,

I don't know enough about the textbook market to comment but I'd say for fiction authors Tim O'Reilly was right when he said obscurity is more of a threat than piracy.

I think a lot of people will put off buying an ebook reader until the format wars are over. If I buy an ebook, I want it to be able to work on whatever device I happen to have, and I want to be able to lend it to friends (in the same way you can lend a paperback), or give it away/sell it when I'm done with it.

Gary

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WarDog asserts...

Posted August 4, 2010
I finally reached a decision point this week. After collecting books for the last 30 years I am finally happy to swap my entire collection for digital copies of them. As soon as I press the button on my eTablet of choice (sorry JB you know it'll be an Android for me) I'll start to cannibalize my collection.

The extra room, the removal of dust. The ability to search for text references, carry my entire library around in my back pocket, pick up animated copies or ones with refs to online content. The tech has finally become good enough for me.

The question for me is what size eTablet will I get best use out of.

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Steve P ducks in to say...

Posted August 4, 2010
I just downloaded Without Warning to my Kindle. I only buy for Kindle now (maybe IPad when/if I get one). Its terrific: convenient, cheaper, and a very large range with Amazon but also all other sources (just finished a brief civil war memoir from Project Gutenberg).

Not a lot of Aussie stuff available on Amazon, though. I often get the "This is not available for Australia" message, which is very annoying, and which I presume relates to some publishing issue with Australian/UK publishers. Also there are no Australian newspapers on Kindle, as far as I can tell, although some are on IPad I understand.

I also download quite a few textbooks to Kindle, even with diagrams. It is hard to read diagrams on Kindle, but I have Kindle reader on the PC as well, which is OK for that.

I really like beeso's birmo app idea.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 4, 2010
My Master would like a quiet word with you, Mr Dog.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted August 4, 2010
Yeah I like Beeso's Birmo App idea too.

And I'm not surprised at the lack of newspapers on kindle. Internationally there's not many of them either. They're a good example of the importance of design and layout. In one sense, yes, they are just text, they dont need imagery. But the aesthetics of newspapers have advanced light years since the first days of solid slabs of text. Again, another type of 'print' media I'd be happy to read on a tablet but not an e-reader.

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Orin ducks in to say...

Posted August 4, 2010
In terms of textbooks, no one gives a rats generally who the authors. With fiction the author is usually the brand. If you've written a series of fiction books it makes sense to give some the firest away free (just like a drug dealer the first hit is free) as if people enjoy it they will pay for the rest of the series (this is BAEN's strategy). Doesn't work that way with textbooks as they don't have that natural "have to read the whole series after reading the first one" approach.

O'Reilly is indirectly my publisher these days (as MS Press publication and distribution is handled through O'Reilly and it is their name on the royalty cheques). They are philosophically committed to providing books without DRM. Given the file sharing stats - and the evidence I've seen of my own books being shared widely, I'm not convinced that this is a successful strategy long term.

Kindle may become the iTunes of eBooks. Buy it once, read it on any device with a Kindle client. Similar to Audible audiobooks (I have an audio book library going back 10 years on audible that has come across at least six different devices with me). The library auto-sync feature makes this a winner for me. The DRM simply doesn't cause me a problem because it is handled natively by the client.

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wheresmyepubjohn puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hanging to get a copy of After America in ePub format. Not sure what all this hoopla is over other eBook formats. Beeso is wrong on the app idea. Only kids books and comics should even consider being an 'app'. Novel writer should be output pretty much only to ePub. apps should be only used from non-novels that need specialised interactivity. It's way too much work to do an app as a book.

See this

iBooks on iPad handles the annotation and booking mark they have elected to mark as 'red'. In fact most readers will implement how that is handled themselves in their reader software. It's like the bookmark in the old deadtree is not part of it but can be removed from it's pages.

The iBooks software is the nicest of all the readers i've looked at, hence my iPad purchase, despite not being able to get ebooks from Apple Australia store yet.

PDF will come a close second in book support and generally used as a reference book format, not for novels. I think Adobe are working on a modification to PDF to allow for rewrapping, but who wants to support something controlled by Adobe.

ePub overview

for hardcore geeks

Lots of tools to get easy output to epub are starting to arise.

So who do i have to kill to get After America in ePub?

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beeso mutters...

Posted August 4, 2010
I think you've missed the point. Felafel and how to be a man have a degree of visual style as well as text, which is why you could add content to it and make it an app and sell to a different market. It wouldn't be aimed at people who just want the text.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hey JB, did this guy steal tomorrows blunty?

ww.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2973380.htm

Double A+ gold with an elephant stamp.

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nhamilton@iinet.net.au reckons...

Posted August 4, 2010
I like the Idea of a Kindle, I have about 300 books stacked in my hall way and pick and choose to read them while waiting for new books to arrive. It would save me a lot of space. But when I buy books through Amazon and look to see if they are available on Kindle there is not much on offer. Being a book hoarder I would like to be able to access any of my books whan I want to, not sure if I can do this with a kindle, memory wise.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
Oh and On Topic.

There was an excellant discussion of Radio National a while back about Ebook haters. The consensus seemed to be, Ebooks for recreational reading are not as good as The Real Thing. But for professional reading they are Da Shiznit.

An example.

I have close to 2 meters of bookshelf devoted to legislation. About every 5 or 6 months TPTB (the powers that be) ammend, fiddle, prod, fold, spindle &/or mutilate the Acts, Regulations, Management Plans & Enforcement Directives.

Ammending these used to fill about one day a month. I'd print out the ammendment, note when the change was made and stick it over the old stuff, hinged on a piece of sticky tape so the old stuff could still be referred to.

These days I just download the New & improved document. Takes about 3 minutes. The old version is still on the hard drive in case I need to refer to it. I just needed to develop excelant file naming hygene.

PDF word searching beats the living p!ss out of refering back & forth to a crap index.

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El Coqui has opinions thus...

Posted August 4, 2010
Love me, Love my Kindle!

I had been using my kindle for over two years and I am sold on it. By this time, I calculated that by buying mostly e-books, I think that it have already paid for itself. Of course, there is the convenience. I am going to NASFIC 2010 this week and I don't have to decide which book to take with me, if I want something to read. I also discovered that the power cord to charge it can also charge my cell phone.

I downloaded into it web-subscriptions and my own stories (for those awkward times when someone ask me if I had ever written anything). So I am sold, I am told that it now supports PDF files.

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Monster Yuppy would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
There is a comic version of Felafel about.

It would look ASWM on an Ipad.

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Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
You'll all be sorry when we run out of those damned electrons. I saw them come and I'll see them go but my books are still readable after 500+ years. Had a request from someone the other day to recover documents from a 5.25" floppy disk. How I laughed. Probably written with Zardax on an Apple ][e. Of course your ePubs and PDFs will never be obsolete? Paper will outlive you all (swills cheap red wine around remaining teeth and laughs in the manner of Jabba the Hut).

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
Greybeard had a friend request file transfer from a 3.5 diskette, can do. Legacy FTW. PS may even do 5.25

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peterbowes is gonna tell you...

Posted August 4, 2010
there is no way you can stuff a kindle in your back pocket and take a train to lismore to see a sunset in the bushfire season - so help me

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whereismyepubjohn would have you know...

Posted August 4, 2010
Greybeard, your 500+ year old books are a little 'legacy' compared to stone tablets. maybe you're just addicted to the old deadtrees more than you think. I'm just saying the market wants to move to a single open standard for novels and that format will be ePub in the near future.

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Harry the Dog has opinions thus...

Posted August 4, 2010
Hi JB & all

A wise man once said 'all that glitters is not gold', I think this is worth bearing in mind before succumbing to the hypnotic draw of electronic gadgetry.

There is still a lot to be said for good o'l fashioned books.

- Vendor platform independent

- Highly portable

- No battery required

- No danger of disappearing if stood to close to magnetic sources

- Can also be read in the sunlight (in fact, they thrive on that!)

These are just a few reasons, straight off the cuff.

OK, OK I say this as a practicing Librarian and yes I might just have a vested interest, but I still have a reluctance to parting with £109 - £149 for a device (that may in some instances not display pictures) to allow me to read content that I still have to pay additional dosh for.

Call me a Luddite if you will, but I'm off back to my cave!!!

Cheers

Da Dog =;-)

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Tarl reckons...

Posted August 5, 2010
I should mention one of the features that I *love* with the Kindle (and other e-readers).

Adjustable Font Sizes.

As I've aged, my eyes are no longer happy reading 7-point minion typefaces. Being able to select larger fonts (12-point good, 16-point better) allows me to enjoy reading without having to whip out a magnifying glass.

There are undoubtedly people who prefer the tiny fonts found in some paperbacks so they can fit more words per page and more words per book. But as they get older, they'll learn to like larger fonts.

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Orin swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 5, 2010
For the books that last forever crowd - it really depends on the book. Some hardbacks stay in good condition for a long time (I have several over 100 years old), but the majority of books most of us buy are probably paperback. Lifetime really depends on the quality of the paperback - I've noticed that a not insubstantial percentage of the stuff that I have that is over 25 years old and which has been read a large number of times isn't in the best of condition. I have a collection of older 50's and 60's Sci-Fi that I need to be extremely careful of reading as many paperbacks of that era tend to have their spines crack if they haven't been stored in perfect conditions.

Very few books last two centuries - you only have to go into the special reading rooms in Uni libraries to see the amount of care and attention that needs to be taken with them.

Unless you get special archive paper, your book has a limited lifespan.

Given how support for formats drops over time, it would be very surprising if the current ebook formats are present on readers 20 years from now.

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Murfomurf would have you know...

Posted August 5, 2010
Interesting, your forecast for different levels of eReaders- we've been trying various ones, plus the iPad. I've concluded that the Kindle is good for reading ordinary text-only books but is too big heavy to carry around eveywhere; the Kobo is very basic but excellent for carrying about and reading in bed due to its thinness and unobtrusive screen lighting and the iPad makes illustrations look magical but is too heavy to hold in one hand while typing with the other. Incidentally, if you want to peruse some classics in electronic format with beautiful illustrations from the original engravings etc, go to: http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/ and see the work of Uni of Adelaide Library Systems Manager, Steve Thomas.

If you haven't got much time, try this illustration from 'Paradise Lost': http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/milton/john/paradise/book1.html#plate04

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Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2010
@Orin

'For the books that last forever . .' No such thing, the acid in the paper plus UV does for them. However if you then contrast longevity of paper as against film or tape media . . .paper wins. Plastic based media has an even shorter life span. Plastics out gas continuously . . .the 'new car' smell. Hmm . . .bakelite seems to last a lot longer as does melamine. Hint : electronics especially e-platforms suffer the same fate.

Very old books can be on vellum (animal skin), linen paper or papyrus. Modern paper isn't that good . .that's why it goes yellow . . .chemical reaction with air.

Continuum for media lifetime (roughly). Electronic : magnetic and film : paper : 78 records(made out of clay) : vellum : clay : rock. So . . .rock should beat paper every time.

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Lobes mutters...

Posted August 5, 2010
heh, nice pun Brian.

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Darth Greybeard swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 5, 2010
Read an interesting piece a while back on film preservation. You'd think (well I did) that digitising would be the way to go but apparently modern (vs celluloid) film stock is capable of lasting 600 years, given the right temperature and humidity. And in theory of course. Storing film AS film also gives more definition for your dollar than digitising. Some early films exist only as paper versions, ie contact prints on paper rolls. Apparently the copyright office in the teens and twenties demanded two copies of a "work" for reference and they had to be on paper. Great thing in hindsight.

Re the acid paper and poor quality glue, my old Astounding's ans Analog's are fragile inded. In the 70's, "New World" cheap paperbacks seemed to have a glue that had the book turn into a pile of separate sheets as you finished the first reading. Possibly an early attempt at DRM?

I have two copies of the Times which illustrate the acid problem beautifully. One from 1791 has King Louis' aunts trying to escape France in a fast carriage etc and is a flexible and quite readable cream colour, on a rag-based paper. The 1805 (first casualty reports from Trafalgar) is on cheaper acid-bleached paper. It has turned quite yellow and crumbles so badly that it can't safely be read unless in a frame. Folio books are made with excellent paper and beautifully stitched bindings. I'm sure they'll outlast me.

Of course I'm hanging out for the right e-book reader too. One of my regular, $9.95/copy mags, is $9.99 per year in ebook form. Ephemerals and texts - to the electrons where you belong.

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 5, 2010
Greybeard.

I'm hanging out for an e-book cover in red calfskin. Monogrammed . . .of course.

There's a movement I follow called steampunk IIRC. It retrofits modern tech into old furniture and equipment. I greatly admire the workmanship that goes into it.

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Tarl mumbles...

Posted August 5, 2010
Brian:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001S057I6/ref=s9_al_bw_ir06?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-10&pf_rd_r=12RQCA2TBCXYNNDT56TY&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1271551062&pf_rd_i=1268192011

If that doesn't work, Amazon sells covers for their kindles in red leather.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted August 5, 2010
"1805 (first casualty reports from Trafalgar..."

Kept for vanity / memento value? I assume you are listed among the glorious wounded.

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Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
No, sorry NBob. Very few of the French shots landed in Portsmouth taverns. And there's nothing about "kiss me Hardy" or "Kismet Hardy" either. 'Then turning to Captain HARDY he said, "I know that I am dying. I could have wished to breathe my last on British soil, but God's will be done?" In a few moments he expired.' That's if you can believe the Times.

Steampunk! I love it. Just looking for an old clock for some brass gears etc to make over a USB drive. Wood, leather, brass.

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Brian puts forth...

Posted August 5, 2010
@Greybeard

Re : Steampunk. Got an application. Some of these

Asian import stores have got replica old books. AS in looks like an old A4 size book circa 1920's . . .actually a box. Thinking you could put an IPad thingie in one of them. To people watching you reading 'Gordon in the Sudan' . .to you . .vetting all your p()wn sites. . . or writing poison pen letters to NWB . . . .

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Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted August 5, 2010
@brian - I like the cut of your jib, Sir!

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fonzic is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2010
Steampunk - for Goths that love the colour brown

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Derek Lee would have you know...

Posted August 5, 2010
Speaking of eBooks, when does the electronic version of "After America" come out? We can't even get the book here in the States until the 17th and I've heard that only the Australian version has the latest edits. I used a proxy server to trick Panmacmillan to think I was in Australia but all I could see was the Google preview which is missing most of the pages. A US IP address won't even show the Google preview.

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Nocturnalist has opinions thus...

Posted August 5, 2010
+++Steampunk - for Goths that love the colour brown+++

What's wrong with that?

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Abigail asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
Nbob, I have heard a few of those ABC RN and local ABC radio shows about e-books vs. real books and I have to say, even though I hate to get involved with them, everything points to e books being environmentally the better option. I query whether the plastic parts in an e book are not worse, myself. They say , no, e books = better.

Someone was saying they'll eventually release one which feels like a real book, with pages you can turn. Kind of creeps me out though.

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fknvirty has opinions thus...

Posted August 5, 2010
WTF ... not getting enuff sourdough are we? like not only do publishers and all those middle like persons want to sell us PUfC pure unadulterated fuckin' crap, they want to spawn the crap as well?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KMYx8lG59A

pz.v.

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palahuanca asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
QWC and I are channelling you...John you just did all the research I needed for e-books. Btw - you can release your own eBooks on the iPad independently much like independent musicians. Vanity publishing is now totally possible through Apple plus you have that great behemoth to help you out with exposure if you know how to work your social media cards... and you do John, you do...I would go for a graphic novel version of Felafel. There's a movie, a play and the great wonderful original collection of anecdotes, but if you're going for bells and whistles an animated/interactive graphic novel is the way to go. Nothing majorly fanciful, but link based and easy to navigate using the power of the iPad OS. I played with it at the Apple Store in Chermside and I say you should get it: on the STS tax system it's under $1000 so totally tax deductive and not subject to depreciation.

Now that's my brainstroming done for the day and I shall turn instead to a delicious gluten-free pizza with provolone, home made tomato salsa with basil, fresh tomato slices, fresh oregano ....

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Abigail has opinions thus...

Posted August 5, 2010
A bit of a side thing here, but I was just thinking that Felaffel is kind of genius for a book idea simply because there will always be group houses --one might argue, moreso, with the cost of houses being totally ridiculous-- so it will always have another audience and another... who can identify with the situation; the characters are archtypes; it won't date.

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Brian asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
@MatthewF

Left out the black and brass bits . . . .and the heavy red felt.

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Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted August 5, 2010
iPad app could be totally multimedia like. Hear the sound of the dude pissing in the fridge, don't just read about it.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted August 5, 2010
On a tangent from the Steampunk thought.

A friend of mine has purchased a ubeaut commercial highres large format printer. To diversify his business he acquired the rights to print custom stickers so people can personalise laptops & Idoovers. I must remember to ask him if anyone has printed aligator hide or timber with big brass fittings ala steampunk.

I wonder if anyone out there has a Ipad grimoire?

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Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 5, 2010
@NWB

IPad Grimoire . . I like it :)) Necromicon?

Gotta have a big brass clasp on it. With a key.

Have the IPad make groaning noises from time to time . . the odd scream . . . couple it to a vibrator (damn I knew those adult sites would come in handy). Open the cover and a glow comes out . . .

'This book really speaks to me"

Memo to self : cut back on the coffee.

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Orin mumbles...

Posted August 6, 2010
The latest Laundry novel from Charles Stross has the NecronomiPod - an iPhone that hosts occult apps for fighting demons.

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Brian reckons...

Posted August 6, 2010
@Orin

Is there an app for Zombie fighting? Could put a blade on one edge I guess.

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CraigWA has opinions thus...

Posted August 6, 2010
I bought an iPad to go travelling with. It meant I had a book to read on the train, Internet and a GPS for when I got to intersections on my bicycle and needed to figure out which way to go.

As an experiment I downloaded a book which had about 25 pages you could buy for free. That seemed to work so I bought the book and read it on my trip and on a few train rides into London since I got back from my trip. I will continue to buy (or acquire free) books for the iPad if only for travelling without the weight.

The things that annoy me about the e-books market. When you buy a book in dead tree form, it is outrageously expensive. I appreciate that some of this (although I believe it is a very small portion) goes to JB to maintain the Playboy mansion. Some goes to the other people who put the book together, some goes to advertising, the shops, transporting it around and lots of other tiny slices to various middlemen and taxes. Surely one of the attractions of the e-book is that because you can eliminate many of those people you can make a significant saving on the price. Or you could keep the price almost the same and pocket the difference.

Because of the extra onus on me to make sure I don't lose my e-book, can't lend it to other people and probably having to deal with DRM, I expect my e-books to be sold to me at a significant discount to the paper version.

The media empires (which I indirectly work for at the moment) really seem to be obsessed with taking your cash at every turn rather than looking for a positive model that encourages purchases of books rather than looking for the easiest way to shaft them and lend your expensive e-books to your mates through nefarious means.

If it was easier to spend a dollar and have a copy of the book than go through the drama of undoing DRM and transferring it to your friend's device, you'd probably just pay the dollar. The success of mobile phone ringtone downloads would appear to be proof of this theory.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 6, 2010
I wonder when we will see our first EBook viral attacks?

If I was A: skilled & B: that way inclined I'd have to think deleting the last four pages would be a good place to start. Especially if you could code it to happen only after a sequential reading.

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Tarl would have you know...

Posted August 6, 2010
Viral EBook attacks are not likely in the basic formats; they don't contain executables. It's only the more exotic forms (like uSoft Word with macros) where viruses are even possible.

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Abigail mumbles...

Posted August 6, 2010
Nbob, hahaha.

Life is so complicated.

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Orin has opinions thus...

Posted August 6, 2010
Craig - the printing and distribution costs are only a small percentage of the costs that are involved in going into the production of a book.

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Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted August 6, 2010
Tarl - given that you can jailbreak an iPhone or iPad by loading a special PDF - I'm not sure what you are saying is true.

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Tarl mumbles...

Posted August 6, 2010
PDF is one of the exotics; it contains Postscript, which is a programming language long known for causing security holes.

The basic formats (e.g., RTF) don't have executables.

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Sweet Jane Says reckons...

Posted August 6, 2010
Coffee table books

J.

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Nocturnalist puts forth...

Posted August 6, 2010
+++Is there an app for Zombie fighting? Could put a blade on one edge I guess.+++

Well, according to Lore Sjoberg the way to use Apple technology against zombies is to shout at them that you've heard there's a new colour of iPod being released, at which point they all frantically shamble off to sit refreshing Engadget over and over.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted August 6, 2010
@ Matthew F

Now that's magic. Getting them to switch from saying "Braaaains . . " to "Apppples . . .". Have to be rotten apples to the core.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted August 8, 2010
Just read Charles Stross "The Fuller Memorandum".

I think I need to be exorcised. JesusPhones. Necromipod. SHit . . .hope I haven't been channelling Stross.

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SAS puts forth...

Posted August 9, 2010
John on Amazon UK site they have all 3 of your Axis of Time novels, around £4.50 each. When my Kindle arrives I will order them along with the new series (I still want more AOT) - though £15 for After America seems high I might wait (sorry) until it drops to a more resonable £4-£5 for an ebook.

I get a high price for a paper book, it costs extra to print and bind and ship but ebooks shouldn't in my opinion cost more than £4-5.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted August 9, 2010
SAS, it's fascinating the price diff between them. Amazon sets its prices independently in the UK, which is why the ebooks of AoT are so cheap, comparatively. If you wait a few days you might find the Oz ebook available to UK buyers via the US store (yes, I know, complicated world we live in). It should be a bit cheaper.

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Respond to 'Electronic Felafels.'