Scott Sigler's INFECTED -- free download, inexplicably limited

Scott Sigler's new book INFECTED is in stores on April 1 and for the next four days, it will also be available as a free PDF download from Random House's website. Scott made his name by writing and podcasting high-quality science fiction novels under Creative Commons, and eventually, Random House's Crown imprint came knocking.

But publishers are schizophrenic and often end up acting really dumb in the service of trying to do something smart. Crown is putting Scott's book online for free as a PDF, but they're taking it down after only four days -- presumably just in time to kill whatever momentum the downloads are generating. If you happen upon this blog-post next week when it shows up on Digg, you're out of luck -- no download to use to figure out if you want to buy the book.

Worse still: Crown is only making the download available before the book goes on sale! This is an act of massive goofiness. Here's what this means: the book's promotional download period ends before you can buy the book. If you download this book and love it, you can't walk down to the bookstore and pick up a copy. Sure, you can pre-order it on Amazon, but I know from watching my affiliate link payments here on Boing Boing that ten times as many of you buy books that are on sale when I blog them than buy books that have to be pre-ordered. The Internet exists in an eternal NOW, and expecting someone who downloads a book to hold onto the impulse to buy it for four days is so unrealistic, it makes me suspect that this strategy was conceived of by someone who doesn't actually use the Internet.

Either Crown believes that free downloads sell books or they don't. There's no coherent explanation for a ticking-bomb download like this one; it's like the hesitation marks on the wrists of a half-ass suicide.

What's more, as a result of their time-limited download, they're going to lose the ability to compile good estimates of who's downloading the book and where they're coming from -- fans of the book will no doubt keep it online on their own sites, scattered around the net, and new readers will download from all those sources, sources that Random House/Crown doesn't control, can't compile stats on, and will be totally in the dark on. So in addition to the sales they're throwing away by making the ebook harder to get, they're also throwing away the market intelligence they'd get by being the canonical download site for it.

Scott tells me that he'd much rather the book stay online perpetually, so this is definitely emanating from the publisher.

Onto the book -- it looks like a hell of a thing:

Alida Garcia stumbled through the dense winter woods, blood marking her long path, a bright red comet trail against the blazing white snow. Her hands shook violently. She could barely make a fist out of her talonlike fingers, nearly numb, wet from the big clumps of snow that fell thick and fast all around her, melting almost as soon as they hit her skin. When the time came, could she even pull the trigger on Luis’s old revolver?

A searing pain in her stomach brought her thoughts back to the mission, the divine mission.

Something was wrong. Well, fuck, it was all wrong, and had been from the first moment she started scratching at her belly and her elbow. But something was even more wrong, something inside. It wasn’t supposed to be like this . . . somehow, she knew that.

She looked behind her, along the bloody path through the snow, eyes searching for pursuit. She saw nothing. She’d spent years in fear of the INS, but it was different now. They didn’t want to deport her – now they wanted her dead.

Link to PDF, Link to buy book on Amazon, Link to official INFECTED site

See also:
Boing Boing Podcast: EarthCore author Scott Sigler
Scott Sigler's Ancestor on sale today

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  1. They’ve also pulled the audio Podcast of Infection from his site and from Podiobooks. (Well, the intro is out of date “Infection is a podcast only novel. You can’t buy it in stores and you can’t peek at the end. Written and performed by Scott Sigler.”)

    I can’t find any licensing information on the podcast, either in the audio or the metadata of the version I subscribed to via Podiobooks… Lucky fro me it isn’t DRM’d by Amazon, since Random House would probably like to retroactively rescind it.

  2. maybe it’s just a little something-something for the fans?
    oh well, i still don’t get this online books thing. reading a book off a screen is no fun at all.

  3. “oh well, i still don’t get this online books thing. reading a book off a screen is no fun at all.”

    Actually, Magus, I’d say that’s the point. Nobody likes reading novel length text off of a screen (why else would they be trying to push e-paper on us?). But this is a way to let you read enough of the novel so you know you’d rather be reading it on paper. Then you go out and buy it.

    I’m surprised they pulled the podcast, if that’s true. He’d said in his “Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing” interview that he had a special clause in his contract clearly saying that Crown couldn’t stop him from releasing a free audio version of the book. I wonder what happened.

  4. I’m surprised they pulled the podcast, if that’s true. He’d said in his “Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing” interview that he had a special clause in his contract clearly saying that Crown couldn’t stop him from releasing a free audio version of the book. I wonder what happened.

    It could just be being* revamped. It isn’t clear to me from either Scott’s site or Podiobooks. Either way, you can’t get at the moment. Whether it comes back is yet to be seen.

    *”be being” seems, somehow, worse than “that that,” but it’s too early in the morning to think of a better phrasing :-)

  5. The podiobook was originally called “Infection”, that one seems to be pulled, but in its place you can now find 4 episodes of “Infected” comprising 10 chapters, and a message that says that the podiobook is in progress. (the latest MP3 is dated March 25th, so I think the entire book will be up there as a podiobook as well.)

    http://podiobooks.com/title/infected

  6. Funny, I hadn’t even noticed the title change :-) I wonder what prompted it?

    What ever the case, I’ll give the new version of the audio book a listen–if it is un abridged and once it is finished (I’m wary of starting anything, print or audio, unless I know it’s finished. Its bad enough having read 10 Wheel of Time books (where time seems to pass slower and slower with each book) and have the author die before he could finish the series himself (best wishes to all who knew him), but to get into a book that’s partially finished would be even more annoying…

  7. “Nobody likes reading novel length text off of a screen”

    That’s not quite true, reading off a PC screen is useless, but I like reading off the screen of my GP2X handheld.

    The screen is only 3.5 inches wide and the built-in e-book reader is text only and displays just over 50 characters per line.

    This sounds small, but if you look at a paperback a line of text without margins is around 3.5 inches and 50 characters.

    I find this comfortable and have read about 30 full length books this way.

    The main problem with this book is that is a PDF – it looks pretty but is no good for a small screen, so I shall be downloading the PDF and converting it to text.

  8. “it’s like the hesitation marks on the wrists of a half-ass suicide.”

    Way killer line and I’m stealing it and and I’m not crediting you, Cory. Ok, I guess I should credit you.

  9. You’d think some people would have a problem downloading a file marked “infected”. Even “infected_novel”.

  10. I think I have been listening to Scott now for a couple of years, back to Ancestor (there are those who started with Earthcore, which is serious Original Junkie) and I remember Infection (the original name of Infected) as it was podcast. What Scott has mentioned many times in the podcast is that with podcasting its gives the audience a glimpse of the novel and when you podcast it, you get to see errors in your writing, and you also have feedback about the science sometimes from people who do similar things for a living, allowing for you to fix up small errors here and there. This is like a community beta of the book. Infection got this treatment and was able to be fixed up fairly well, got optioned for its movie rights, and had its name changed (in part because of movies named Infection and Infectious, and so it became Infected). The Audio has been completely redone (according to Scott he did it one sitting so that the audiobook could be put out on or soon after the Novel launch date) but he isn’t leaving his listeners out in the cold, he has Nocturnal being done on his regular weekly Sunday schedule and because the new audio for infected is already done he is able to put an intro and an ending onto a segment of the prerecorded Audio and offer that up on Mondays. He has also been experimenting with short 10 min audio bursts of something completely new of which no one has any idea about they just appear on the feed/page to do with a spaceship of condemned men in about the same time period that ‘The Rookie’ is a part of, if its only a short story or a full novel he has been mum about it (they even somewhat appear to be garbled entries put out by errors in the php/database connection, to add to the mystery), but given the short audio concept a lot of the Junkies are finding themselves maddeningly hooked because he focuses on giving just enough to wet your appetite and then it ends.

  11. Did anyone else notice the excerpt is overblown trash? It was a collection of cliches that read like something out of a high school lit mag written by the guy in the Iron Maiden tshirt who always played D&D.

  12. It’s comments like this: “But publishers are schizophrenic and often end up acting really dumb in the service of trying to do something smart.” that make me wonder about hyperbolic comments made by writers :) I’m not sure you really think of them as Schizophrenic, but probably more Multiple Personality (sydrome) types, right? Good comments, and I’m glad there is someone like you who seems to have the ability to criticize the industry that you work with. I respect that. I hope others do too.

  13. Has anyone checked to see if the PDF is DRMed? The PDF could be made unreadable (at least by Adobe software) in a couple of weeks/months/years.

    #2, #8: Maybe I’m just weird, but I haven’t had a problem reading novel-length works on a laptop. Most of my recent book purchases have been RTF or HTML downloads from baen.com. I think some of this perception of unpleasantness may be the limited formatting options available eBook readers, but with RTF or HTML I can just format the whole document to my preferences if I don’t like the publisher’s choice. I’ll admit it works best on a widescreen monitor where you can put your word-processor in dual-page mode, but it’s not unpleasant at all. A laptop isn’t as portable as a paperback, but it’s more portable than 10 paperbacks. I have shelves of paperbacks now sitting quietly on my HD and/or CD-ROM.

  14. It is not protected/DRM’ed… I know because the first thing I did was convert it to LIT so I can read it on my PocketPC.

    I know that initially considering reading on a hand-held seems ludicrous, but once you do it you get hooked. Mind you I grew up on books, I LOVE books, but I also love to read and being able to have hundreds in my pocket is nice. Also, with it there (last place automatically bookmarked) I can read in brief snatches of time that I find open without having to physically have a book under my arm.

    All that aside, this does seem like a rally dumb move on the part of the publisher as noted, but so far only Baen seems to really ‘get’ what the internet is about.

  15. #15: It’s not DRM’d and printing and selection are enabled. It’s even fine with xpdf in Linux.

    I agree RTF and HTML are better (and plain text) because they can be reformatted to the format you want.

    I still find a laptop too big, my GP2X is as portable as a book and I can read in the dark without waking my wife (rustling pages, light etc).

    The main disadvantages are that the batteries can run out and the screen isn’t readable in bright sunlight.

  16. Hey all, this is Scott Sigler, the author.

    First, we pulled the podcast of INFECTION simply for version control. We edited the book, and I think it’s much stronger now, so we pulled the old podcast so I could podcast the higher-quality version. It’s still free, and Crown is down with me giving away the entire audiobook for free via podcast. That ain’t bad.

    Second, while Cory is right about this post, Crown isn’t messing with DRM. It’s a free PDF of the book. Once you download it, that’s it, it’s yours.

    Let me repeat that – I’m giving way the whole book, unabridged, as a weekly podcast with episodes of about 25-45 minutes. No, I’m not posting the whole audio for free right off the bat. This is a controlled release — if you want the whole story, go buy the book, if you can wait every week, more power to you. The choice is yours. If BoingBoing readers can find fault in that, they are a jaded bunch.

    If you want to read the PDF on your screen, the choice is yours. Same with portable readers. Print it out and read it, I don’t give a fuck, that’s up to you, the customer.

    What I think happens is a lot of people TRY the book because its free, then SOME go and buy it. It’s up to you. This strategy works well for Cory.

    And Technical Writing Geek, how about you blow me? I’m sorry that writers don’t all make clones of what the “sci-fi masters” did and regurgitate a style done by someone else 40 years ago. Time moves on, champ; if you don’t like the new stuff, don’t read it. And Iron Maiden RAWKS!

  17. This is kinda an old podcast…

    I listened to it last year- it was a great book. I would love to buy it. Actually you can download a lot of Scott’s stuff on iTunes. Ancestor, Earthcore, and Nocturnal. Ancestor and Earthcore are as good or better than Infected.

    Scott Sigler is brilliant. Read everything he writes. NOW.

  18. Dammit, Cory. You post so many great online reads, and I get completely caught up in them when I should be doing work. Last time it was Rainbow’s End – now this. Scott, great job! I’m hooked by the bio stuff; already made it to Chapter 23 this morning. I only wish I could go purchase it over my lunch hour…anyway, keep up the good work. I’ll check out your other work.

  19. There is one problem I’m happy to have (in a way): I have no clue which books are currently out there for free download. Is there somewhere on the web a collection of links to those? (No, I don’t feel like googleing for them, as the noise to signal ratio would be too high.)

    Some years back, when I read my first english novel – Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – finding free books sure wasn’t a problem, because the number was approximately one (with some margin of error) and everyone was shouting it all across the web, but these days … =8-)

    But as I said, it is a problem I’m rather pleased to have. :)

  20. TP1024, the first English novel was Down and Out? That seems so odd. Out of all the millions of books to start with and you picked that one? Not that it isn’t a great choice.

  21. for you dinosaurs, if anyone would like my advanced reader’s copy of this, email me and i’ll send it to the first person with a small shipping cost. (danwarning@yahoo.com)

  22. OK, downloaded and on my read “for fun” pile.

    It will b interesting to see how this FREE revolution will play out in the next few years. I know that I have bought or donated where I could for books that I thought were worthwhile.

    At the same time I have not contributed for books that I felt were just long winded blog posts. So non fiction many books I actually buy are just long winded extrapolations of a single simple idea. If I could have read a free version first..

    Which leads us to the obvious question.. if in a free economy only the very good can support themselves on what is effectively donations.. then what happens to the rest of the content creators?

    Food for thought..

    -Marty

  23. “Which leads us to the obvious question.. if in a free economy only the very good can support themselves on what is effectively donations.. then what happens to the rest of the content creators?”

    Substitute the word “royalties” or “payments” for “donations” and you’ve described the status quo in every field of artistic endeavor.

    Where do the mediocre artists earn a living, with or without an Internet?

    Also: Scott’s not soliciting donations, he’s selling books.

  24. This is a controlled release — if you want the whole story, go buy the book, if you can wait every week, more power to you. The choice is yours. If BoingBoing readers can find fault in that, they are a jaded bunch.

    This is the internet, of course we can find fault with that. Overall, it’s a pretty cool deal for readers and potential fans. Too bad about the lack of concurrent release of the PDF and book–out of your hands, I know, but it does rather get in the way of the impulse buy thing.

    And Technical Writing Geek, how about you blow me? I’m sorry that writers don’t all make clones of what the “sci-fi masters” did and regurgitate a style done by someone else 40 years ago. Time moves on, champ; if you don’t like the new stuff, don’t read it. And Iron Maiden RAWKS!

    Hmmm…I can’t decide if you are refreshingly blunt or an just an ass.

  25. Skep: I am a total ass. I don’t bother to hide it.

    Here’s the thing with net-savvy writers. People who hide behind cutsie little log-in names and slam our hard work after reading three paragraphs used to be able to revel in their anonymity and self-anointed expertise. Well now the writers can actually read the posts, and have the option to respond. I’m not nice, and I’m not going to take shit from some some guy who’s PMS-ing without giving some shit back, so I respond. I also post with my real name, the same real name that’s on all of my work – I’m out there in the open. Some writers may pander to douchiness, some may ignore it, that’s not me.

    So, if I’m an ass for defending my work, then I’m an ass.

  26. “Hmmm…I can’t decide if you are refreshingly blunt or an just an ass.”

    I’ll go with refreshingly blunt since most people wouldn’t even have acknowledged the original comment. I’ve never read anything sigler has written but I’m gonna give this one a shot.

  27. “And Technical Writing Geek, how about you blow me?”… LOL, what a hoot. How many artists have wanted to say that to (wannabe) critics over the centuries? Excellent. It reminds me of that Seinfeld show where he went to the womans office and heckled her at work because she had heckled his show. I for one am definitely going to read this book now.

  28. So, if I’m an ass for defending my work, then I’m an ass.

    Well, you are certainly different than many. I’ll assume you really are he, rather than an impersonator trying. The voice sounds convincingly like the writing in the novels.

    You know more about tentative fame and publishing than I do, so I posit this only theoretically. It seems to me that the popularity of a book is not only based on the quality of the writing, but the caprices of a fickle public. I have no idea if being an ass will help or hurt you in that regard, but I have no doubt it will have some kind of impact, one way or another.

  29. Jeff:

    Well, I’m a pre-singularity orthohuman living in Germany and had a lot of learning to do before I could *read* a novel in English, which means to me that I want to read it without having to refer to a dictionary all the time … (Ok, back then the temptation was sure there, but I averaged significantly less than one unknown word per sentence, which is about the point when you can start to concentrate on reading. Now it’s less than one per page, unless some grease monkey decides to recite the collection of tools he has in his garage or something …)

    But my question is still open: where can I find a directory of current free literature? (Current as in, “Yes, I know I can get Sherlock Holmes on http://www.gutenberg.org“.)

  30. TP1024: try http://www.e-book.com.au/freebooks.htm

    ?

    Just google it. There’s a lot of stuff floating around out there.

    Or if you’re into audiofiction, podiobooks.com is absolutely fabulous.

    I think Mur Lafferty might have some of her works up on her webpages as well (and if you’re not reading/listening to her yet, you should be!).

  31. Thx Talia, better, but not yet good. Basically this is like not looking for needles in haystacks, but one specific needle in a stack of needles … I was rather looking for some kind of search engine that would allow me to search for books available anywhere in the web with criteria like genre, author, title etc. not something like:

    “University of Virginia Electronic Text Center has more than 10,000 publicly accessible texts in thirteen languages (& over 164,000 publicly available images). These texts are available to web browsers, but in addition there are 2,000 + e-books available (in English) for MS Reader & Palm Reader.
    http://etext.lib.virginia.edu

    Which is basically leaving me perfectly clueless as to where to start searching for anything specific or not. Sure, when it comes to SF, bean books would be my first stop, and gutenberg for moderately popular classic literature. But this is the way the internet must have been like before there were any search engines around, not what you’d expect to be possible these days … this is sooo web 0.5 ;)

  32. Here’s the thing with net-savvy writers. People who hide behind cutsie little log-in names and slam our hard work after reading three paragraphs used to be able to revel in their anonymity and self-anointed expertise. Well now the writers can actually read the posts, and have the option to respond.

    Let’s actually talk about the work.

    You assumed I wanted a repetition of the past.

    What I want is quality, not a string of cliches.

    You, like all writers, must face criticism. It is not personal, even if you try to make it so.

    I respect Iron Maiden’s work. It is musically respectable. I don’t like it however. That also is not personal.

  33. Hi Corey,

    Thanks for the response.

    “Substitute the word “royalties” or “payments” for “donations” and you’ve described the status quo in every field of artistic endeavor.”

    I am not sure I agree. I do have some thoughts on the subject that I would welcome your feedback on.

    http://martysmind.com/2008/03/27/the-free-economy/

    -Marty

  34. Technical Writing Geek:
    < >

    I did assume that, because I read this BoingBoing post of yours:
    < >

    Guess I was wrong. My bad.

    And this isn’t personal?
    < >

    Seems we have different definitions of what “personal” means. Feel free to post some of your writing for free, so I can take a look at it as well. That would be fun.

  35. Hi, long time reader and first post!
    I am currently off on Easter break from university in good old Scotland, revising for up-coming exams.

    I did my usual skive today on Boingboing and this resulted in my being distracted for the WHOLE DAY reading this :)

    Good stuff, I’m away to hunt down some of your other works and skive some more :D

  36. That was an interesting read. I enjoyed it, but I think I am scared of triangles now.

    I think I will pop any pimples I get immediately, just in case.

  37. “I was rather looking for some kind of search engine that would allow me to search for books available anywhere in the web with criteria like genre, author, title etc.”

    You might want to check out a site that I edit, The Online Books Page, at

    http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/

    This lets you browse and search a collection of over 30,000 books from throughout the Internet that meet our selection criteria. (There are a lot more free books out there– just Google and IA between them have hundreds of thousands– but we try to find good sources for books that people want to read, give them good cataloging, keep the links up to date, bring together volumes of the same work, and otherwise provide a useful, simple discovery service.)

    We’ve got forms for suggesting new titles that we don’t already list, and for reporting bad links, so if you know of a book that we don’t list that we should, just let us know and it will probably appear in the index soon. (Note that one of our criteria is that we require stable links, so the book that’s the subject of this post wouldn’t qualify, since it’s only being made available for a few days. The books also need to be online in compliance with applicable copyright law.)

    For more about what we list and how to submit it, see http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/suggest.html

  38. I loved Scott Sigler’s Earthcore, it’s still one of my favorite all time Sci Fi stories. I also enjoyed Ancestor quite a bit, and I hope they eventually get around to making that one into a movie, since someone picked up the rights. I got about 3/4 the way through Infection and just lost interest for some reasons. His podcasts had also filled up with a ton of ads, way more fan mail than was necessary, and various other pieces of filler that just aggrivated me. The orignal Earthcore podcast was like a radio serial from the 40’s, and I looked forward each week for the next episode, each of which left on a mini cliff hanger that begged to be finished. I’ll come back for Earthcore II, but the commercialization really pissed me off.

  39. I’ve now read two books on my LCD, both of which were free Scott Sigler novels. I actually prefer it over a PDA because I can maximize the size of the font, turn on sub-pixel rendering in Acrobat, and sit back while I scroll with my Logitech G9. I’m not sure if I prefer it over an actual book, but I think I do. Less eye strain for sure. The only down side is I can only read it here at my desk.

    Oh btw this is better then Ancestor, Scott, which was still very good, but you still have some issues imho are annoying. Mostly the cliche parts making fun of themselves. It throws off the immersion that is otherwise achieved up to that point. Maybe some people like that character in their writing? I pre-ordered a copy of this one and had it sent to my local library.

  40. I just finnished reading this over the weekend, a true, can’t put it down, kind of read.

    A few points off for heavy fascist leanings, but otherwise an entertaining read.

  41. I just finnished reading this over the weekend, a true, can’t put it down, kind of read.

    A few points off for heavy fascist leanings, but otherwise an entertaining read.

  42. I have been trying to give away my book, The Beatitudes, Book I in The New Orleans Trilogy, a parnomral thriller for and about New Orleans. I am giving away the hard copy to anyone who emails me or goes to (lynlejeune@cox.net)www.beatitudesinneworleans.blogspot.com
    I’m trying to start a buzz because I am giving all of the royalties to The New Orleans Public Library Foundation to help rebuild the public libraries. Please check out my site, read excerpts, and ask for the book. Help New Orleans!!!
    Lyn LeJeune

  43. Okay, Scott, I tried reading it. While I like your style, the large amounts of self-surgery got to me at chapter “Wake We Hungry” (well, that plus what the chapter heading references). That’s truly some disturbed stuff, man. While the story seemed good, that was just too much for me. I skipped to the end to get some closure. Sorry, man. Looking at some reviews, it seems like you’re more on the “horror” end of Sci-Fi, and the only horror I read is Lovecraft.

    I’ll check a couple of the other books mentioned here and see if there’re any that are more my speed. Thanks for the effort – it got me to read you. :)

    M

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