Publisher's Weekly just announced (on the cover, no less!) my forthcoming DIY short-story collection, With a Little Help
, a print-on-demand book that explores pretty much every "freemium" model for turning a free, well-known digital object into a bunch of highly sought and profitable physical objects. There's four different covers on the print book, a hand-bound limited hardcover whose end-papers come from the paper ephemera of various writer-friends; a free audiobook read aloud by voice actor/writers and a for-pay CD-on-demand of the same thing; a donation campaign, and even a one-of-a-kind super-premium chance to commission a new story for the book for $10,000. All the financials for the book will be disclosed online and bound into the books on a monthly basis.
Here's the pitch: the book is called With a Little Help. It's a short story collection, and like my last two collections, it's a book of reprints from various magazines and other places (with one exception, more about which later). Like my other collections, it will be available for free on the day it is released. And like my last collection, Overclocked, it won't have a traditional publisher.
Doctorow's Project: With a Little Help
Let me explain that last part: Overclocked was published in January 2007, just weeks after Advanced Marketing Services, the parent company of Publishers Group West, which distributed Thunder's Mouth, the publisher for Overclocked--went bankrupt. You remember Advanced Marketing Services. What a mess. First, a senior executive was arrested and convicted of fraud for falsifying the company's earnings, then the company tanked, and the resulting whirlpool threatened to suck half of New York publishing down with it. As a result, Thunder's Mouth went though a series of mergers and acquisitions. My editor and then his replacement both left or were let go (I never found out which). By spring, no one was communicating with me.
Later that year, I did a kind of self-financed minitour, piggybacking on speaking gigs, and every time I went into a bookstore it seemed like I was seeing another edition of the book with a different publisher's name on the spine. The book's currently listed in Perseus's catalogue, for which I am glad. The royalty checks keep coming, and the book continues to do well, but I could no longer be said to have any particular relationship with this publisher. As far as I can tell, it is listing the book in its catalogue and filling orders, but not much else.
This makes Overclocked into a fine control for my little experiment. It is a good book. It sold well and was critically acclaimed. But it is solidly a midlist title, a short story collection published by a house turned upside down by bankruptcy. It will be the baseline against which I compare the earnings from With a Little Help. And those earnings will be diverse--like the musicians who've successfully self-produced albums in a variety of packages at a variety of price points (Radiohead, Trent Reznor, David Byrne and Brian Eno, Jonathan Coulton), I have set out to produce a book that can be had in a range of packages and at a range of price points from $0.00 to $10,000.
We’ve followed Annalee Newitz’s career here for more than a decade, from her science writing fellowship to her work as an EFF staffer to her founding of IO9 and her move to Ars Technica and the 2013 publication of her first book, nonfiction guidance on surviving the end of the world and rebooting civilization: now, I’m pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from Autonomous, her debut novel, which Tor will publish in September 2017, along with the first look at her cover, designed by the incomparable Will Staehle. As her editor, Liz Gorinsky, notes, “Autonomous takes an action-packed chase narrative and adds Annalee’s well-honed insight into issues of AI autonomy, pharmaceutical piracy, and maker culture to make a book that’s accessible, entertaining, and ridiculously smart.” I’m three quarters of the way through an early copy, and I heartily agree.
Nintendo’s nostalgic instant sellout NES Classic (still available from scalpers) only comes with 30 games and no way to add more: but it only took two months from the announcement date for intrepid hackers to jailbreak the device and come up with a way to load your favorite ROMs, using a USB cable and a PC.
The $38 Millennium Falcon wall clock is handmade to order from plywood, birch and MDF by Hamstercheeks in Nottingham, UK, who uses a laser-cutter to turn orders around in 2-5 business days (the clock itself is an AA-powered quartz sweep movement). (via Geekymerch)
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