Ever wondered where books come from, from the publisher's point of view? Marty Halpern explains how The Atrocity Archives came to be, with bits of our email correspondence from, oh, 2002 or thereabouts. Marty has edited the Laundry novels, first for Golden Gryphon, and now as external copy editor for Ace; it's an unusual look into how the business works from the other side of the desk, and well worth reading.
Meanwhile, new technology has interesting side-effects. Google Wave has sometimes been described as a communications technology looking for a niche; early heavy users, for example, seem to have consisted of software developers ... and AD&D gamers. I recently got a Google Wave account, and here's some of the fallout; me, interviewed for writing blog badlanguage.net, via Wave. Wave seems to work significantly better than the traditional email interview for Q&A dialogs; does the result read better?
Turning to a different aspect of communications technology, I'd like to pass on a note from Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) (who describe themselves as "a not for profit non-governmental organization that searches for better outcomes, including new solutions, to the management of knowledge resources, as is described in http://www.keionline.org.")
We are distributing a letter (in English and Spanish) to writers, journalists and authors who support the World Blind Union WIPO treaty proposal to improve access to books in formats accessible to people who are blind, visual impaired or have other disabilities.They're looking for writers and asking them to sign the petition: interested parties should contact Judit Rius at judit.rius(at)keionline.org. My take on it is that this is an unequivocally good cause, and I'll be signing KEI's letter. One of the big problems with electronic media and DRM is that they tend to lock the visually handicapped out; for example, a common restriction on ebooks is to disable the "read aloud" feature offered by Kindle and other readers. Such behaviour is discriminatory and (in some jurisdictions) illegal, but it's going to be hard to prevent it spreading without something like this proposed treaty.
The World Blind Union has been for years requesting a new international legal framework that will allow them to produce and share accessible formats of books and other written material.
The World Blind Union treaty proposal, formally endorsed by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay is supported by nearly all developing countries and by disabilities and consumer organizations but the position that developed countries, like the European governments and United States, will take next week is still unclear.
Why is it urgent: Next week the treaty proposal is going to be discussed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. This is the website for the WIPO meeting.