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Reminder: why there's no tipjar on this blog

I'm posting this because folks keep asking me how to send me money via Paypal. (I'll add it to the sidebar, along with the comment moderation policy, in due course.)

I write this blog because (a) I'm a compulsive communicator, (b) I work on my own in a small office with a cat for a co-worker (who is a poor conversationalist: she's trying to qualify for the Olympic sleeping relay), and (c) I can kid myself that by blogging I'm promoting my work, which is to say, giving you an advance taster of what I'm obsessing over so that you'll maybe go and buy the books.

I don't carry advertising for third parties because this blog exists to showcase and promote my own writing. I figure that to promote an informational product, the best thing you can do is hand out free samples — which is what this is. And putting advertising content inside what is in effect one giant ad is, I think, taking chutzpah to a new level. Besides, I hate ads. So: you don't need to pay me for writing this blog.

But. Folks still ask me how they can send me money. Usually it's because they've downloaded a warez copy of one or more of my books and enjoyed it and want to pay. Well, I'm happy they enjoyed the books, and pleased that they want to pay me — but still: no tipjar.

If I put a Paypal tipjar on this blog, to take conscience money from folks who've downloaded a (cough) unauthorized ebook or two, the money would come to me, not to the publisher. And without the publisher those books wouldn't exist: wouldn't have been commissioned, wouldn't have been edited, wouldn't have been corrected and marketed and sold in whatever form filtered onto the unauthorized ebook market. (Yes, they commission books, and pay authors for them up-front — a vital part of the process, because most of us can't afford to take a year to write a book on spec and then hope somebody liked it enough to buy it. And if you think my bank manager would front me the kind of advance money that Ace, Orbit, or Tor have no difficulty offering for a novel that isn't even written yet, let alone doing so without charging interest or asking for their money back when the product's late, well ... you might want to think again.)

Your typical book publisher is not like the music or movie industry; they run on thin margins, and they're staffed by underpaid, overworked folk who do it because they love books, not because they're trying to make themselves rich on the back of a thousand ruthlessly exploited artists. I think their effort deserves to be rewarded appropriately.

Luckily there's a simple solution that should make everyone happy.

If you've downloaded unauthorized copies of my books, instead of hitting on a tipjar button, I urge you to buy a (new) copy of one of my books. (Feel free to use the Amazon links to the right of this web page.) It doesn't matter which one. If it's one you read and liked, why not give it to a friend? Or if it's a new one to you, read it and then give it to a friend. Or keep it, eat it, frame it and hang it on the wall, or donate it to a library — whatever you do with it after you bought it is up to you. The only proviso is, it needs to be a new copy. That way, both I and my publisher get a kickback, and you (or a friend, or a library) get a new reading experience.

(Things you might like to know: (a) Neither I nor my publisher get a bent penny from second hand book sales, (b) we don't get anything from remainder sales either, (c) we get about five times as much from a hardcover as a mass-market paperback, and (d) yes I know DRM is the root of all evil, and so do the publishing folks I deal with: why it still happens and why you can't buy sensibly-priced DRM-free ebook editions of most of my work is a long story and material for a different blog post.)

61 Comments

1:

While authors do not get directly paid for resales and remainders, there are a couple of indirect benefits:
1) The value of a book is supported by the resale market. Without the ability to sell a used copy, the price of books would probably drop. That being said, the value of used copies has dropped to basement levels with the advent of eBay and Half.com -- go look at the number of bestsellers selling for minimum prices ($.99 and $.75 respectively). (Strangely, used music retains a lot more value)

2) Somebody who DOES buy a used copy is more likely to buy your next book. I've certainly done that: I got Accelerando free from your site, bought the first Merchant's book cheap, now I'm buying hardcovers of Saturn's Children and Halting State and the paper of the latest Merchant book. I hope I'm not unique on that.

On that second note: buying a used copy means they're book buyers, which library readers aren't as likely to be. Frankly, my local library's SF&F section sucks, I'm happier buying these dead tree products.

2:
(d) yes I know DRM is the root of all evil, and so do the publishing folks I deal with: why it still happens and why you can't buy sensibly-priced DRM-free ebook editions of most of my work is a long story and material for a different blog post.)

I would really like to read that post someday.

3:

joel: I agree about the price support effect. And unlike some authors, I don't fulminate against second-hand sales: I remember being a cash-strapped teen and then student myself, thank you very much.

jc: For some starting pointers, you can start here. I wrote this about two years ago; it's time I revisited the subject.

4:

Just a quick note about you kidding yourself about promoting your work.
I read a couple of your posts, then I subscribed and then I decided you seemed an interesting enough author to go into mi reading pile. I have been glad of that final conclusion ever since. So at least once your weren't kidding yourself.

5:

jc: You might want to also check out ars technica's coverage of the e-book problem.

6:

Charlie, about that compulsive writing, I was thinking "Why no Charles Stross on twitter ?" (or identi.ca).
I enjoy reading your words by the thousand -- I'm pretty sure I'd also like bite-size chunks of 140 caracters.

7:

cstar: because life's too short.

I don't have enough time for blogging, writing, and cat-hoovering: you want me to add other distractions?

8:

Essentially, I did exactly what you're requesting - I read the free ebook copy of Accelerando several years ago and subsequently went off and bought the hardcover at retail (because I felt guilty about getting the book for free).

I've since bought almost everything else, even if it's taken a bunch of hunting on Amazon to find a copy (Toast, I'm looking at you).

Besides, any author whose prose can drastically improve the end of a long week (I started rereading the Merchant Princes while waiting for data to process Friday evening) is worth supporting on general principal. If the prose in question results in me falling out of my chair laughing, so much the better.

The line that made me test gravity last Friday was the description of Christianity from Gruinmarket perspectives "you worship some horrible dead god on a stick."

9:

we get about five times as much from a hardcover as a mass-market paperback

What about e-books? How do those compare to the hardcover and paperback versions?

(Yes, I dislike DRM as much as the next informed citizen, but for me the convenience of an e-book is worth putting up with it. Most of the time.)

10:

Well, I got hooked after getting Accelerando through a interlibrary loan (my local library's SF & Christian sections are about the same size!). Anyway, I buy your books from the SFBook club ,they sent 2 "Halting States" rather than returning 1 for a refund I donated it to the (county) library-because I did download a some of your earlier stuff(like Scratch Monkey)!

11:

Additional suggestion: say you're not a book pirate and want to toss a little extra cash to Charlie anyway, and you have all his books.

Buy one for a library or bookmobile (do they still have bookmobiles?). That way Charlie and his foodchain gets paid, and several people get exposure to his work. I call that a win.

12:

Aren't we effectively tipping you by buying books (yours or otherwise) through your Amazon links?

Is there a way to buy hardcovers of books that have gone mass market paperback?

13:

Michael: yup, I get Amazon kickbacks. (They cover less than 25% of the running costs of this colo server.)

Hardcover editions usually remain available for a while after the book has gone mass-market, but tend to be remaindered if sales drop down too low. Only a few of my books have been remaindered in hardcover so far (and none of them in mass-market paperback), but a couple have gone out of print -- that is, they've sold out and the publisher won't reprint in hardback because there's no point (it'd be competing with the paperback).

14:

I actally started reading both your and Cory Doctorow's work after an article in Wired Magazine mentioned you. While I only found this blog afterwards, it does serve to remind me exactly when a new book is going to come out.
Also, is it just me, or did a whole lot of people start reading after Accelerando?

15:

I'd like to link to this (with some amendments for my small press epublisher situation) because I had this exact conversation with someone at a con last month. Guy couldn't get his head around why I'd really much rather people went and bought a legitimate copy of one of my books than give me money directly if they liked my writing.

16:

Jules: go righ ahead and link away.

17:

If I buy a new or used copy of a work and then read it I am legally ok. But reading a pirated version of the work and then buying the work probably doesn't erase the the legal infraction, but buying new instead of used does more to morally rectify the situation. At least that's what I thought Charlie said. Interesting how changing one variable (new/used) and reordering two events (read/buy) leads to many different outcomes from a legal and moral standpoint even though the universe seems to be unchanged no matter which way I get there.

18:

Giving books to our friends? After we've read them? Talk like that will get you kicked out of the Author's Guild my friend.

19:

i think, but i might be falling in a abyss here, that u just convinced yourself to put on the damned tip jar already ...
Cheers
(dead trees man, thats not scifab)

20:

Charlie @13: Those paperback buyers make me so angry! I just never will understand how a trade paperback retains value after it's released while a hardcover's price will shoot straight down. It's evident in used book stores, but especially on Amazon. That said, I mix and match on buying new and used. Brand new novels I'll cough up for, even at $25 dollars they're only $5 more than a new DVD and provide well over two hours of enjoyment. That's part of the reason I've never really understood people complaining about the high cost of (non-academic) books, although I do feel that way about $15-$17 for a trade paperback to save $7-$10. I think maybe us book buyers really don't understand real costs in comparison to other media.

21:

>Also, is it just me, or did a whole lot of people start reading after Accelerando?

I started reading after they gave away a free book at bookshops with the first chapter from Accelerando in it.

It was a great marketing idea because it seems to me that it got a ton of people reading Charlie's books.

We need more sensible ideas like that!

22:

Attach little dust mops to the cat's feet. That way it can clean up after itself, and you'll have time for twitter.

23:

Ian_M @ 22 : Somehow, I doubt that the feline overlords would take that particularly well... although the experiment is worth trying.

24:

Clark @20: it's to do with how the retail business model works. Hardbacks and trade paperbacks are sold on sale-or-return, mass market paperbacks are sold like magazines (if unsold past a certain date the covers are stripped and returned for credit and the books are pulped). (NB: works a bit differently in the UK.) Publishers and bookstores would actually prefer to get away from the mass market model entirely and focus on trade paperbacks -- it's far less wasteful (and if we did that, the price of trade paperbacks would fall somewhat).

25:

Oops, I've been going about this backwards! I buy your books and then occasionally aquire dubious downloads so that I can read a few pages from my handheld as and when the chance arises and not cart the physical book around all day.
I don't feel like I'm ripping anyone off.

26:

Charles - for what it's worth, most of the people I know in the music business are also underpaid, overworked and doing it because they love music.

The vast majority - numerically - of labels out there are small low margin affairs. Someone like Bo'Weavil is the same as a small genre publisher. And even the people I know working at major labels are in the underpaid and enthusiastic category - the weird thing is the gap between what the staff play in the office and what the labels sell - but that is probably no different from the book trade - it's hard to imagine anyone involved in publishing liking Jilly Cooper, rather than knowing a hit when they see one).

Which isn't to say there are no fat cats who could be removed (the head of one of the non-profit rights societies earns over £400,000 a year . . .)

27:

Colin F: I am contractually obliged not to undermine my own publisher's sales -- in any format -- so I can't encourage you to do that, but it strikes me as being only one step removed from the (legal) practice of format-shifting by taping or ripping a legally purchased CD for playback on another device ...

28:

I also started by reading your blog, downloading Accelerando, and then buying your other books. I buy almost all paperbacks though, because I live in Japan, and the shipping costs for hardbacks are exorbitant. This also means I almost never buy used books, because Amazon's shipping costs are way lower than the used-book dealers' (especially because I usually buy 5-10 books at a time).

29:

Charlie @22: As I understood the law, while format-shifting (amongst other things) is permitted under US fair use provisions, the functional equivalent in UK regulations -- fair dealing -- doesn't provide exceptions for such acts.

That is, the act of purchasing a CD in a shop, taking it home, and copying the contents to my notPod is, absent permission from the copyright holder(s), illegal in the UK.

(See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6095612.stm )

30:

I guess you're right. I never downloaded any of your books (so I pass through the excruciating wait period of 4-6 weeks waiting for them to arrive). But I've downloaded Cory's books, so I can read in advance.

There are instances where downloading warez copies of books without the intent of purchasing them are alright: when it's impossible to purchase a legal copy of a book (most of times due to censorship).

31:

ough... really bad English in last post...

plz read: without the intent of purchasing them is alright

32:

Cory Doctorow had the same tip jar problem, only more so since all his writing is available free online in addition to print. He didn't want to end-run his publisher, so he set up a page where librarians and teachers could request a copy of his YA novel, and people who wanted to thank him could donate a copy of Little Brother to them. A volunteer maintains the listing.

I don't know if the same approach could work as well for non-YA books, but it was very appealing to both reward a favorite author AND reward a library with the same purchase.

33:

I wonder about if there would be some way to give say, half the take to the publishers, based on how much money they've given you in the past n years?

34:

Your cunning plan is working Charlie. I stumbled across the "Nothing like this will ever be built again" post while googling for some stuff about nuclear power and kept on reading other things here.

I'd just finished Tim Power's "Declare" and saw you'd just published "The Atrocity Archives". Wondering if it would be as good as "Declare", I went out and purchased a new copy. And by jingo it was. Since then I've bought quite a few of your books (new) and none of them are at all likely to end up in a second-hand shop.

No charge for this unsolicited testimonial about how your blog does generate sales.

35:

"Attach little dust mops to the cat's feet. "

Or just ensure all the dust smells of tuna.

36:

If you can't afford to buy Charlie's books, get your library system to order some.
Last year I talked to my local library, told them their SF section was too small, suggested they have more local (i.e. Scottish) authors and dropped Charlie's name (a number of times, emphasising that I was personally acquainted with him!). Six months later, and Dumfries & Galloway libraries now have copies of Accelerando, Halting State, and a couple of others (no Merchant Princes, as yet.)

37:

I'm a librarian responsible for our SF/F collection. Among librarians, it is almost an axiom that "SciFi doesn't circulate." I disagree with that premise, but part of the problem is SciFi is often put off in its own little ghetto apart from the rest of the fiction. There is a snobbery involved too. I run a book group and one of the loudest opponents of SciFi just suggested we read The Handmaid's Tale. That's because Atwood is shelved in Fiction rather than SciFi... Oh well.

Also, SciFi is afflicted with the worst cover art, as anyone who has seen the American edition of Saturn's Children can attest to.

I guess my point is, if your library has a lousy SciFi collection, speak up. That is an affirmative statement that SciFi does circulate. Libraries are more likely to buy a book if patrons ask for it. Also, the librarian in charge may not know the literature that well and is dying for any and all suggestions.

Rant concluded.

38:

Ryan @ 28: The shipping-cost argument against buying used probably applies to everywhere which is not the US. At least I've noticed it applies to me, in Finland. I think I've bought three used books in my life (out of, err, some unknown number of thousands). In these cases I finally decided that a new copy is nowhere to be had, probably using several magnitudes more effort than the actual cost is. (Surprisingly easy with books, a couple of hours will do it.)

39:

Then I can bask in the warm glow of knowing I have bought new copies of all your books that I can find in my somewhat remote neck of the woods. However, if it hadn't been for a link to this blog from elsewhere and the online copy of Accelerando to whet my interest my money might well have gone elsewhere.

40:

Val @ 35: Isn't Charlie from Leeds? Or has he been officially adopted by Scotland now he lives there? (Actually, I'm not being totally facetious, I remember reading he was born in Leeds and now lives north of the border but I don't know the timelines, etc).

I like the idea of donating a book to a good cause if you want to say thanks to an author, that's a pretty neat "everyone wins" scenario. I guess schools are going to be less likely consumers of SF&F books, but there must be tons of small libraries and reading groups that could also benefit and in addition to paying the author and publisher it's great publicity and could get more people interested in their books generally.

41:

the money would come to me, not to the publisher

So why not split the proceeds with your publishers, using a simple and objective formula such as the percentage that each publisher gets is proportional to the number of books that they've published for you, or perhaps split among the publishers in proportion to the total they've paid you in advances and royalties?

As a customer, I'm always astonished when an industry or business makes it difficult for me to give them money (and then, surprise!, they struggle to make a profit!)

If I wish to give you money (and I mean "you" collectively, the author and the publisher and whoever else made the book possible), your method is that I should pay for some trees to be cut down (when I like trees, and I'd rather leave them standing), to be processed into paper (that I don't want), then for me to go driving off to the bookstore (which I don't want to take the time for), or have it delivered to me (which pumps CO2 into the atmosphere, when I'd prefer not to be contributing to the drowning of poor countries, and comes in a cardboard box that I don't want and have to get rid of). And then, I end up with a book, which either adds to the already too much clutter in my life, or I have to figure out how to dispose of it, to find a friend or a library to give it to.

And sure, ebook readers like the Kindle solve the dead tree problem, but I doubt they will help specialty publishers all that much. The Kindle model is great for bestsellers. Bestsellers are like a Starbucks coffee, they don't cost very much and you know what you're going to get before you buy it; the business makes money on volume. Publishers may be comfortable with the Kindle model because it's so similar to the book model of paying a fixed amount before you read. But that model works for bestsellers which profit on volume but not for specialty publishes which have a lower volume of distinctive work. My best guess is that ebook readers like the Kindle will help keep specialty publishers from dying, but they'll keep struggling financially.

So, what can we craft that will let specialty publishers be robustly financially healthy? (Which is important not only for the publishers but also for the authors they support).

Let's start by looking at the timing of payment. Buying a bestseller is like buying a cappuccino at the coffee shop: I know want I'm going to get. The book may have a "surprise ending" but I'm not going to be surprised by what I find in the book, any more than I want to be surprised by what my cappuccino tastes like. Bestsellers and cappuccinos are commodities, interchangeable, and the pay before you read or drink makes sense for them.

For a Charles Stross story, my reaction is not going to be predictable. I may be going "errrrm... yeah....", or my brain may exploding with new ideas. And you can't have one reaction without the other. Tone down the story so it gives a predictable light, pleasant, positive reaction, and we also miss out on the "wow, that was an incredible presentation of mind-blowing ideas!" reaction.

So the point when I know the value of the story to me is at the end, when I've read it. Then I'm willing to spend some money. How much? Well, for a teenager, $5 might be an impulse buy. I might spent $100 on something. For someone who happened to have been a successful entrepreneur, $5,000 might not be a big deal.

However, the pure donation model, you know, the one where the author says "hi, I hope you enjoyed my work, if you liked it and would like to see more please put some money in the tip jar", hasn't made much money. Because people are still people, and they want to "get" something for their money. A donation is like a black hole, you throw money in and it disappears without anything coming back. You get some response from the reader's vague sense of responsibility, but it's not very strong.

Selling a virtual good is much better (as long as is it is of real value to the reader and not gimmicky); it doesn't cost you or your publisher anything, and it gives something of value to the customer.

Eric Ries has a great post (http://startuplessonslearned.blogspot.com/2009/02/you-buy-virtual-goods.html) where he talks about the different kinds of value that goods can have (practical, perceived, social, identity...) and says that the strongest value is that of identity, when people incorporate a product into their sense of identity. And, an identity value is something the commodity bestsellers would be weak at, precisely because they are commodities.

OK, so what sense of identity can we offer after someone has read a Charles Stross story?

Paul Graham mentions that one way to find a good business idea is to take a luxury item and use technology to make it dramatically cheaper. You know there's a demand for it, as some people are already paying a lot for it, and a lot of people buying something at a lower price (at least with a reasonable profit margin) can make you as much or more money than a few people paying a higher price.

One such luxury is being a patron of the arts. It's high status, people feel good about it, but you need to be rich to do it. So what can we use technology for to make this accessible to everyone?

So here we go: when I pay money, I get a badge that I can place on my web site / Facebook / MySpace page that says "I'm a patron of Charles Stross".

Which is literally true. Not a gimmick, not a marketing thing, but simply the truth.

Which feeds into my sense of identity. I'm not just a fan of Charles Stross, I'm a patron.

Which has a high profit margin for the publisher, because it costs nothing to deliver. (And again profit for the publisher is good because they can support more authors).

So, in summary, since people want to give you money, let them give you money. Share with the publishers, since they made the books possible, and profit for the publishers means they can support more authors. Give people a "thank you" for supporting you and your publishers, in a way that doesn't cost you or your publishers anything (since costs mean less money to support authors), and gives them a strong identity value in return.

42:

Liam @36, I lived in a city where the library shelved all the adult-level fiction together by author, with only spine tags to indicate genre. (The question I had, when sorting books for the library sale, was 'where do politicians' autobiographies go: history, politics, or fiction?')

43:

Donating books to my local library is a fine theory. I need to work on getting them to accept books that I'm willing to pay for, because right now they will accept any new hardback and selected new trade paperbacks. Here there's a significant premium for those over standard paperbacks, and I object to paying both that premium and the deadwood premium that is the difference between Fictionwise pricing and local pbook prices. Not that it matters for Mr Stross since his books are available from Fictionwise, for which I am grateful.

I'm curious about the ethical (rather than legal) difference between buying second hand books and downloading illegal ones. Neither reward the author or publisher at all, so it seems to come down to an obligation to circulate money.

44:

A few weekends back I pulled out my dad's sci-fi collection from the 50s and 60s and a thought occurred to me how about how abominable DRM is. How will my children inert my DRM'd ebooks and other media? Presuming it holds it's data integrity in 50 years (unlikely). Fast forward the coming digital dark age i guess.

I once wrote but never finished a short story, where at the end of the piracy wars, when the rights owners win, and all media must be digitally DRM'd by law, all books are burned as per Farhenhite 451. With the twist the paper gets carbon sequestered underground. I think I got spooked at the plausibility.

There's something about owning a tangible book, even for someone like me who never re-reads things, especially when the book is good - it sticks in my mind clearly. Other than satisfiying my borderline OCD with collecting things, being able to introduce others to the book is a immensely rewarding part of ownership.

It is more important that people read books (when considering the general benefit to civilization that people read) IMHO, than ensuring the pockets of authors and publishers be well lined (it needs to be a close second on the priority list, Charlie+cats need to eat and have warmth).

45:

Moz: the difference between a second-hand p-book and a downloaded unauthorized e-book copy is that the latter may be replicated indefinitely, whereas you know for sure that when you're buying the former, the author and publisher were paid at least once.

The difference becomes a lot less clear if you compare illegal e-books to library loans. Back in the old pre-internet days we authors had a term for folks who bought a single copy of a book and got everyone they could to read it: we called them "librarians", and I tend to think that the illicit e-book downloading thing is more akin to library loans in its impact than to second-hand book sales. Which is to say, illicit copies don't pay us directly but help to generate publicity and new readers, and as the biggest enemy all artists face is obscurity it takes a very special kind of wilfull blindness to insist that illegal downloading is therefore 100% bad for authors.

46:

Link to warez, plz... ;)

Didn't you already write most of that blog post? Part II is almost 2 years overdue.
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/03/why_the_commercial_ebook_marke.html

47:

I try to buy new copies as much as possible, but every once in a while I break down and frequent the used-book store. (usually I try to do this only to get out-of-print stuff...but....you know, sometimes the temptation is too great...overall I spend a decent amount on new books though)

How do authors view used-book stores? Has the internet robbed them of their (at least in my view) quaint, sincere, generally-run-by-some-harmless-old-kook kind of qualities? (I suppose that only the largest of them have any kind of real presence on the internet, but it's the collective working together that is potentially threatening I suppose)

It's a troubling dichotomy for me. On one hand you have the corporate shills and their mega-stores (the exception of course is the independent new book store, sadly dying though for some time). But patronizing them (and amazon) gives writers the most benefit of course. On the other though you have those used-bookstore old kooks---and they are the ones that actually *care* most about the actual books. They have some real passion. And they are hardly getting rich either....so it is very difficult for my heart to not go out to them.

Do writers (ok or at least you!) ever patronize used bookstores?

(as far as e-books go I just can't get into them......I need the real thing in my hands.)

48:

Any specific venue that gives you and/or the publisher more/less kickback? For example I love buying in Bookdepository.co.uk because of the free worldwide delivery which makes their books about half price in relation to Amazon for me- but if you&your publisher get a significantly lower kickback from them I'll have to rethink buying from them.

49:

I found a copy of Singularity Sky second hand, it's mostly how i sample an author: the initial outlay is minimum and it takes the edge off the 'guilt' as i buy in charity shops.. i don't know too much on the details of the back-sales effects of that activity.. but at least i feel like some donation to something is transacted and it's less like 'theft'. I then bought Halting State in the first run of paperbacks off the back of the sample and found the blog entry in the back.. I come back here because it entertains and informs on many diverse things, by that i mean it has value in it's own right, and at least i can get a sense of what to read next.
You're right to class the blog as an advertisement of your saleable skills, at least as part of it's continued justification for you putting time into it, aside from the sanity-saving elements, which might be overlook by the cynics. I don't think it needs a tip jar, unless you point the proceeds at a worthy beneficiary.. the Old Writers War Veteran's Home the Fiduciarily Challenged or somesuch.. and the buy a copy and 'donate' it seems a better process and acts to grow the possible fanbase.
Share the Lurve.

50:

Years ago I printed off a copy of Accelerando at work and hand bound it. It remains unfinished, and I haven't repeated the experiment, but I value it at much more than the copy I bought. It'd be one of the few books I'll keep if I ever switch to e-books.

anyhows,

I've been writing a sf set in a post-scarcety society and found that the only economical system that feels realistic is a 'sludge' mix of cornucopian, volontarian and capitalistic systems of differing granularity.

I wonder why it took me so long to figure that out.
I've bought a lot of books both new and second hand over the years, often coming to a point where shelfspace imposed a spending stop. I've also perused books from a 'different' source (on a hacked psp using Bookr). When I was a kid I read everything in our local library, up to five books a day during vacations.

Readers often switch between library loans, 'loans' from friends, secondhand, new and hardback books and now likely downloaded bought or pirated e-texts. Yet most readers would agree to support their favorite authors (even as they might suffrage death penalties for other authors).
It's true of other media as well, naturally. There's never been a single clearcut path between culture makers and culture perusers.

Changes in our economy might temporarily favor one path, but it's unlikely publishing will completely disappear.

What worries me a bit is the granularity side. The music industry is poorer and more inhuman for it's size and power. The small record companies and those bands who don't want to be 'big' are all that keeps their customers sympathetic. I'm convinced the book 'industry' suffers from much the same issues where the human scale is surpassed.

So don't discard that tipjar too easily, Charlie. For everyone in the industry that loves books there seem to be as many people pushing 'Twilight' and 'Warhammer' books. I wouldn't put it past them to drive the last customer out of the stores, blacken the name of printing and salt the earth so no life can come after them.

And at that point it might be the authors that make loans to editors, typographers, printers et al.

51:

Even when I get an *authorized* download of a book by an author -- or when the author is kind enough to email me the text of a forthcoming book -- I then go out and buy a reading copy once it is released.

In one case recently, I bought a paperback version of a book for a colleague...that I'd already bought a hardcover version of for myself...after the author had emailed me the book to read.

52:

In (un)related news... http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7948058.stm I miss a certain Mr Stross in this crowd...

53:

Congrats on the Hugo Nomination:

Best Novel (639 Ballots)

* Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
* The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
* Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK)
* Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
* Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)


Now you just have to win against such strong competition ....
54:

Ian: see next blog entry!

55:

Charlie,

I trust you are registered with ALCS..

56:

PhilipC: ALCS doesn't really apply in my case -- rights are handled directly via my agent, my publishers, or for short material by myself. However, I am registered with PLR for library loans (and shortly with Google).

57:

A dead hard disk means I have come late to this duscussion, but I would like to add two points to the subject of rewards to both publishers and authors. In the UK (and some other countries) library borrowings do put money directly into the hands of the author (but not publisher) through PLR. If your country does not have PLR campaign for it. Secondly, if you really want to reward author and publisher take the trouble to buy from an independent bookshop. Large chains get very high discounts on all the books they sell, not just the ones that sell below marked price. Only small independent shops pay the full wholesale price for books. A look at any royalty statement will show the vast difference this makes to writers income.

58:

Just thought you'd like to know about a bad link.

In your "Buy My Books" section, the fourth link from the bottom, for "Singularity Sky (ebook)" points to
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000ALZK1I/charlieswebsi-20
and gives a 404 error.

59:

Laura: that's odd, but possibly reflects Amazon messing aroundd with their ebook side: I'll investigate in due course.

60:

Laura: I've checked this now. Amazon seem to only sell "Singularity Sky" ebooks in Kindle format, so I've replaced the Amazon link with a link to the Diesel ebook site (where you can get it in any format but Kindle). I assume if you've got a Kindle you don't need my sidebar link ...

61:

keep it, eat it, frame it and hang it on the wall
Not, I hope, in exactly that order.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 17, 2009 3:36 PM.

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