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News from the exciting world of publishing!

I'm in New York, attending Book Expo America, a huge publishing trade show, because of Tor's DRM-free ebook announcement. (And, speaking of DRM-free ebooks, it looks like the dominos are beginning to fall: IPG—the Independent Publishers Group, a distributor for smaller publishers—are about to start offering a DRM-free publishing channel for their members. Good for them!)

So I've been busy recovering from jet lag, giving talks, meeting with editors, and having my head scanned at MakerBot Industries. Because Cory Doctorow had his head scanned and he wanted company. No, really. This is the twenty first century and we have 3D printed models of Cory Doctorow and we have quadrotor drone cat-copters but I still can't get decent bandwidth on my mifi in a foreign country. Sigh. The future: it's not what I expected!

117 Comments

1:

Oh dear.
Charlie Stross bobble-heads soon to be available?

"The Future ain't what it used to be...and it never was."
--Lee Hays

2:

Charlie Stross daimakuras next!

So relaxing.

3:

While I am of course a mercenary type who is interested in merchandising opportunities, the rumoured Charlie Stross butt-plug is definitely off the menu.

And if you make one anyway, I will not be your friend.

4:

Why, when a work is released without DRM - people still feel the need to publish it on pirate sites? Scalzi's latest seems to have been "released to torrent and indexed by Google" within about five minutes of it being available. I got the audible version through my audible subscription - I don't care about the DRM - do care about the author getting their bit of cake for providing me with entertainment.

It seems that even if an author goes without DRM, they still need to send DCMA takedowns within minutes of their book going live.

5:

does this mean the book-signings for "Rapture of the Nerds" will be delegated to Doctorowbot V1.1 and Stross-bot 3000?

6:

Yes, and Tor will continue to run an active compliance department. In fact, they're beefing it up.

On the other hand, I have it from no less a luminary than Fritz Foy (who effectively wears the hat of the Macmillan group-wide CIO) that they don't intend to emulate the RIAA or MPAA by suing the crap out of random ordinary folks to the tune of several times the planetary GDP. They are fully aware that doing so would make them look like dicks. I gather that there are situations under which they will sue, but they have no intention of creating another Jammie Thomas style martyr: you're probably not going to feel much sympathy for the folks they do go after.

7:

From the sounds of things, Macmillan are going to be moving higher up my list of "people to buy things from once I actually have money again". They're sounding more and more eminently sensible.

8:

Great marketing idea!

I can guess that in a short while your Web sites will be selling salt and pepper shakers topped with your heads.

Now if you could only convince a few more SF authors to get scanned maybe you could offer a neat chess set one day.

9:

Why put a DRM-Free e-book on Torrent sites? Why *not*? Torrents are egalitarian environments, they suck up everything they can. Which basically means anything that can be reduced to bits, even paper-only titles get scanned and OCR'd.

Yes, they're mostly "stolen", meaning copyright violations. Terabyte after terabyte of copyright violations. There is far more danger that a midlist author's work will disappear from the networks because of lack of interest sufficient to compete with all the other eye-patched suckers of bandwidth out there than there is that all the countermeasures in the world will accomplish *squat*.

Most unsigned musical groups wish their stuff would get widely traded online even more than they hope that dive they work tomorrow might have a producer in it. Maybe mid-list authors should hope for the same "problem".

Don't get me wrong, I'm not "on the pirate's side" anymore than I would be on the "side" of a hurricane. You don't fight or cheer on forces of nature, you just cope.

--Dave

10:

Now now there's no need to close any doors, one simply has to market the product in a neutral fashion and if certain individuals find an object such as the "Charlie Stross smooth rubber paperweight" to be multifunctional... well then that's between them and the ER night shift, isn't it?

Why, when a work is released without DRM - people still feel the need to publish it on pirate sites?

Are you assuming the only reason works are pirated is to punish DRM users?

"True believers" will pirate because they believe they are helping, and others will pirate because it's profitable & popular. Valuable content is always needed to feed the beast.

11:

If this really is the death march for DRM, on ebooks at least, then i'm wondering if you think the next "turd in the punchbowl" will be regional locking of purchasing digital content. We all know it's increasing not decreasing and i understand the industry as it exists currently not being fit for the intertubes age yadda yadda...but geo-locking is one damn tough sell for your average punter.

12:

That's good news. Direct to Consumers is the future in my opinion. Opening an ebookstore that sell straight to readers (DRM-free) will mean more revenue for everyone involved. More competition for Amazon is always a good thing for authors and readers.


p.s. I found this info that might be of some interest. It lists 159 authors who have sold more than 50,000 self-published ebooks. And of that 159 authors, these 26 have done the best.

The "200,000+ self-published ebooks sold" clubs:

Amanda Hocking - 1,500,000 ebooks sold (December 2011)
Barbara Freethy - 1.3 million self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
John Locke- more than 1,100,000 eBooks sold in five months
Gemma Halliday - over 1 million self-published ebooks sold (March 2012)
Michael Prescott - more than 800,000 self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
J.A. Konrath - more than 800,000 ebooks sold (April 2012)
Bella Andre - more than 700,000 books sold (May 2012)
Darcie Chan - 641,000 ebooks sold (May 2012)
Chris Culver - over 550,000 (Dec 2011)
Heather Killough-Walden - over 500,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
Selena Kitt - "With half a million ebooks sold in 2011 alone"
Stephen Leather - close to 500,000 books sold (Nov 2011)
CJ Lyons - almost 500,000 ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
J.R. Rain - more than 400,000 books sold (Sept 2011)
Bob Mayer - 347 sold in Jan to over 400,000 total sold by year's end (Dec 2011)
Rick Murcer - over 400,000 ebooks in one year (May 2012)
Tina Folsom - over 300,000 books sold (October 2011)
J Carson Black - more than 300,000 books sold (November 2011)
Terri Reid - 300,000 sold (May 2012)
B.V. Larson - over 250,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
Kerry Wilkinson - more than 250,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
T.R. Ragan - 239,592 books sold (March 2012)
H.P. Mallory - more than 200,000 ebooks sold (July 2011)
Marie Force - more than 200,000 sold in the last year (March 2012)
Scott Nicholson - Just guessing, I'd put my worldwide sales total between 200k-250k
David Dalglish - more than 200,000 (May 2012)


source: selfpublishingsuccessstories.blogspotdotcom

There are probably tens of thousands of self-publishers and most won't sell more than 200 books. So success is rare. But it can happen.

13:

Oh, good, so we'll be seeing your head on Futurama right next to Dick Nixon's?

14:

but I still can't get decent bandwidth on my mifi in a foreign country.

I assume you know the reason and are just grousing. As I would.

You're in a sea of phone signals along with 4387 other people trying to access the 4 nearby towers. Any convention these days is a problem. Or sports arena. Or ...

15:

The last big event I went to, there were a couple of mobile towers set up that I saw, maybe others (we have several competing providers in the UK). And events such as the one Charlie is attending is in the middle of a big city, at a purpose-built conference centre. a few blocks from Madison Square Gardens. If the systems in that area don't have the capacity to cope with event crowds, it's incompetent system design and management.

(Look for the Javits Center with Google Earth.)

16:

Yeah the regional locking is like having the right plugs/sockets for your kit, isn't it?
I understand the Chinese, post HK, have devised at least a partial solution to this - a semi-universal wall socket.
Still won't deal with idiot USSA 60Hz 125V of course!

Back on subject - how long before the current biggest player, Amazon, gives in, and goes non-DRM on Kindle?
Any guesses?

17:

We've had a lot of talk about this in previous threads. Direct sales don't look like a high-cost strategy for an author, but it's the publisher who makes the effort to sell a book at present, organising publicity and making it stand out from the mass.

I know what self-published drivel reads like, and finding the good stuff in the morass of the Kindle store is hard. I think I write better, but dealing with Amazon is hard. International taxation, for one, over a couple of hundred sales.

As a customer, I want to see publishers surviving, because the end product is better, and I don't have the dross getting in the way. It's because Charlie has a publisher that this morning's sales email from Amazon UK included the paperback of The Apocalypse Codex in a list of eight books (four of them by Terry Pratchett).

Publishers in general (there are exceptions) treat their authors well. It's not like the music and movie businesses. Going to direct sales isn't a trivial matter; authors would find it harder to check royalty statements. And publishers know they need authors. Amazon will sell anything (and do).

18:

What I have heard, and it seems consistent with my experience, is that Amazon UK is very bad at letting customers know whether a book is DRM-locked or not.

(While I remember, Spufford's "Backroom Boys" is available cheap for Kindle, but I think it may be a soon-to-expire special offer.)

19:

Books are inherently locked by language, more so than films. English is so widely taught as a second language that there is a huge potential audience, but books depend on reading fluency, which is a higher standard. Films, you have the pictures and soundtrack music to compensate for imperfect understanding of dialogue.

An author can sell the same book in several different markets, using several different publishers. And then there are translation markets. I can see changes in the English-language divisions: in the past, having Canada and USA as different markets made a lot of sense (the unique copyright laws of the USA for one thing). I can see why that might change. But local publishers can do the publicity better.

One thing to think about: Amazon in Europe screw every advantage they can out of the EU's sales tax systems. A US-based publisher, selling direct, ends up competing with Amazon's European operation, while paying an extra 15% sales tax.

20:

The problem with supporting wireless data and phone service in fixed sites like hotels and convention centres is that the demands for bandwidth are increasing faster than the refurbishment cycle for such places.

Three years ago the problem was with voice calls, texting and emails and supplying the halls and spaces of a convention centre or a hotel with a Mb/second or two of bandwidth was easily achievable; any more demand and mobile towers would be brought in to deal with it. A few WiFi hotspots around the building would deal with laptop computer users needing to browse email and such.

Today an individual smartphone user watching a video can soak up nearly all the phone bandwidth that was provisioned three years ago to meet the demands of all the attendees, and the WiFi system capable of handling ten or twenty users in a single space is being hammered into the ground by hundreds of attempted connections per access point.

Convention centre operators need to go through yet another upgrade/refurb cycle to cope with this increased demand and that will cost money and effort. After that they need to upgrade the trunks connecting them to the internet to handle the gigabytes per second of wireless data flowing back and forth within their site, and that will also cost money and effort. Somebody at the end of the day has to pay for all this, and more and more convention goers and hotel guests are expecting, nay demanding free internet access as part of the deal.

21:

Wouldn't a conservative politician's image be more appropriate for such a device?

22:

I have used the Chinese universal sockets. They're scary; there's more empty space than plastic there, and you tend to have to orient them horizontally because otherwise the plugs fall out. There's just not enough metal to hold the plugs in. And, of course, none of those wussy UK features like safety shutters.

OTOH, astonishingly useful. Next time I go to China I plan to buy some power strips and bring them back with me.

Incidentally, it's a shame the CandyFab 3000 has died: with a 3D printer that makes stuff out of caramelised sugar, we could have edible Stross heads!

23:

To my understanding the choice to use DRM or not in Amazon ebooks has always been left up to the publisher (at least this is the claim).

24:

I wonder if the demand for live feeds of the Venus transit caused a particular net-traffic issue in the last twelve hours or so? I know I ran through 2-3Gb at home last night.

25:

...a purpose-built conference centre. a few blocks from Madison Square Gardens. If the systems in that area don't have the capacity to cope with event crowds, it's incompetent system design and management.

Off topic, so I'll keep it brief: not necessarily. There are only so many channels available, period. So if the numbers of people trying to get phone service exceeds the number of open slots, someone's screwed. Back in the day when a phone had a cord on it, you could just run more cables - possibly expensive, but rarely an engineering challenge. There's only so much radio spectrum available, and when it's full it's full.

This is the baby elephant just now beginning to sneak into the room of interconnected futurists. As shiny and exciting as an always-connected high-bandwidth augmented reality future may sound, the task of actually delivering that in densely populated areas is not a trivial one.

26:

Orville looks very handsome with his quadrotors, and the misguided hell that is DRM is why I, a huge Diablo fan, did NOT buy D3.

27:

Back on subject - how long before the current biggest player, Amazon, gives in, and goes non-DRM on Kindle?

Amazon will sell DRM-free ebooks if the publisher asks them to. (There's a flag in the Amazon publishing interface to switch DRM on or off). So new Tor sales via Kindle should, from some time in mid-July onwards, be DRM-free.

28:

Most unsigned musical groups wish their stuff would get widely traded online even more than they hope that dive they work tomorrow might have a producer in it. Maybe mid-list authors should hope for the same "problem".

Er, no. Because midlist authors are the opposite of "unsigned" -- they have a publishing track record, they live or die by their book sales, but they're not bestsellers (i.e. secure in the marketplace), and unlike a band, nobody's going to pay to go to see them give a reading.

Because they can't go on tour and play gigs for revenue; so "true believers" torrenting collections of their novels are actually damaging them to the extent that the torrents are depriving them of sales. (Yes, I know that not every download is a lost sale. And yes, we all need publicity. However, a certain percentage are, and if they're taking 10% of the sales off someone who is within 5% of breaking even after production costs and the book advance are taken into account on the publishing side ... it's not good.)

On the other hand, "true believers" can mostly be dealt with by education. And by pointing them at promotional stuff that it is fine to spread far and wide (free samplers, short fiction released for promo purposes, and so on).

And on the gripping hand, removing DRM on ebooks tacitly recognizes that, yes, sometimes we lend books to our family or our friends. It's just that the entire internet is not your family and friends.

29:

"Region locking" of ebooks arises from the contractual mechanisms by which publication rights are sold, by authors, to publishers. Yes, we know it's a headache. The trouble is, fixing it will require multilateral international agreements to fix it by multiple publishers in different countries.

I think it'll happen, but it'll take a lot longer to fix than DRM. Dropping DRM is a technical policy decision than can be taken unilaterally by any publisher without side-effects. Selling your ebooks worldwide, on the other hand, is a fast way to get yourself sued (if "worldwide" includes a territory where a different publisher holds publication rights). And to make matters worse, Amazon enforce territorial rights in a more draconian manner than the publishers' lawyers want(!) probably out of fear of those lawsuits.

30:

I suspect it's because the Javits center would rather sell me wifi at $50 a day during the conference than serve up reasonable GSM/EDGE bandwidth via T-Mobile ...

But mostly their own wifi signal was so strong it was swamping my mifi's, to the point where the iphone in my right pocket couldn't connect to the wifi hotspot in my left pocket.

31:

What, they're not all my friends? Even that nice Nigerian fellow (very polite, a bit grammatically-challenged though) who emailed me yesterday?

32:

2 of my Mum's friends actually are Nigerian. They're doctors doing placement work rather than internet scammers though.

33:

So, suppose I want to do my civic duty and buy a copy of, say, Scalzi's Redshirts, and I want my purchase to have the maximum impact in terms of convincing publishers that selling DRM-free ebooks is a good idea. What store should I buy it from? Do I wait for the Tor shop to open in late summer?

34:

And it doesn't help when you have a few 1000 people walking around with mobile hotspots in their pockets. Either a dedicated card or their phone acting for their iPad or whatever. All stepping on each other as people walk around sharing a total of 11 channels.

@David Bell
Incompetent is not a word I'd use. Overwhelmed is more like it.

And yes I know about the Javits Center. Been there. Nice big place.

I had the same issues as Charlie three weeks ago at the Washington DC convention center. Cell voice and data sucked. Doesn't help that the DC center is in the basement. And everyone had an iPhone or Andriod phone in on them plus 10% to 20% had iPads. Plus all the booths where showing off their new iPad support plus ....

I'm sure that convention centers built in the future will in general have these issues thought about somewhat up front. Similar to the NY Met's new stadium. But for now existing location managers are likely to be a bit frustrated for a while.

35:

Couldn't see Iron Sky at the cinema because their fuckwit distributors only had it on a one day release. So I pirated it, watched it on my PC and then paid 5 Euros direct to the Iron Sky team.
BTW, the film was a lot better than expected and I rather suspect that it gets bad reviews because it portrays the US political system as being worse than the Nazis. The allegedly weak jokes are maybe not so much jokes. Its a good B action movie.

36:

Ahem: if you want "Redshirts" DRM-free, read Scalzi's blog. TL:DR; it's the first DRM-free release. There are glitches in the pipeline. It should be DRM-free when you buy it. If it isn't, email the folks at Tor nicely with a copy of your receipt (see Scalzi's blog for details of who to contact) and they'll email you a DRM-free copy (then go sort out the ebook store who slapped DRM on a DRM-free sale).

37:

Forgive me if this has been asked a million billion times, but will you be doing any signings while you're in town? I'm a New York fan and we feel that living in the capital of the universe entitles us to certain privileges. Also I like to meet sci-fi authors because they tend to know what's up.

38:

I suspect it's because the Javits center would rather sell me wifi at $50 a day during the conference than serve up reasonable GSM/EDGE bandwidth via T-Mobile

Of course. But if you hot spot was a European model you many have also had issues with T-Mobile in the US not support all the radio channels to their cell towers. I know AT&T has re-purposed a LOT of their edge service to 3G/4G over here. Which means that original iPhones now drop data service in areas where they worked fine a few years ago.

Now if you don't mind breaking some US federal laws you could set your hot spot up to use the extra channels that work in Europe but are not supported in the US. But that only solves 1/2 of your issue.

39:

FWIW there's a semi-organised boycott of the vanilla 1-disc distro that the distributors are trying to sell on the back of said 1-day "release" too, so you're probably not alone.

40:

Yes: I'm signing at BEA at 3pm today.

41:

I could have downloaded cheaper from the distributors, but chose not to and gave all the money to the Iron Sky team direct. Ditto DVD etc.

42:

Yes, it's an EU mifi router and doesn't do 3G on T-Mobile's frequency. I'm fine with GSM/EDGE, frankly: I want it for tracking email and twitter, not streaming video. The trouble is, in the Javits it's not even doing that.

(I bought it because I also go to other places -- Germany next week; France, The Netherlands and Australia within the next 12 months -- as well as the USA. At some point I'll try to get my locked 3 network HSPA+ mifi -- the one I use for the UK -- unlocked and see if it'll talk to T-Mobile USA's HSPA+ network, but: unlocking is a pain.)

43:

Huh; didn't know about the boycott. I ordered the 1-disk DVD via AMZN, and it shipped on time but failed to arrive in time for my flight. So -- groan -- I torrented it for the iPad. Yes, this is a crazy world we live in, when piracy is convenient and trying to do the Right Thing creates problems.

44:

Charlie @ 40
BEA?
British European Airways?

Where have you parked your time-machine?

45:

Returning the MSSSSPP copy for refund is no more immoral than what the distributors did to the makers IMO.

46:

Wrong continent shirley?

47:

Javits it's not even doing that.

As I implied, channels above 11 should be fairly clear on the wifi side of things if wifi contention is the issue. Not that I'm recommending that you use them.

48:

BEA = Book Expo America. Giant trade show for publishers.

49:

"Still won't deal with idiot USSA 60Hz 125V of course!"

If it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.

50:

Once again we realise the truth in the statement that the future is already here, just unevenly distributed. I guess BEA is on the downside of the curve which makes a kind of sense with all those dead-tree merchants around.

51:

It has weaknesses: the black astronaut is very stereotyped. Having a black astronaut on the moon-landing crew, that's political. Having him be apparently stupid dead-weight, and a caricature of being black, that makes me be uncomfortable about the film.

It is not as good a film as I think it could have been.

52:

Hugely off-topic, but I think people will be interested:-

Ray Bradbury has just died.

53:

There are only so many channels available, period. So if the numbers of people trying to get phone service exceeds the number of open slots, someone's screwed.

Agreed. Not to mention that in a big, mesh wifi system, some of those channels may be used as backhaul, and they are therefore not available to the average user at all. Also routing efficiency plays a part; many of the wifi providers I know about are upgrading the memory in their servers/routers in order to move the signals better/faster.

I would estimate, all told, that we're seeing a six-fold increase in usage in the last couple years, and that is the lowest possible estimate. A convention venue is seeing a ten-fold increase in usage, possibly more.

54:

Yes. I suppose in its attempt not to offend some people it offended some people. The bottom line being that a movie about Moon Nazis is not going to please all the people all the time no matter how its handled.
However, I think you are correct. It would have been a much better film if it had been played straight. As one example, I would liked to have seen the "prequel" of the Nazis in Antarctica and the moon landing that was in the early promo clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KEueJnsu80
A nude Maria Orsic would have helped as well!

55:

I wonder what Book Expo America will do to honour Ray Bradbury's passing away from this world to the next.

56:

So I look at all the comments about internet access and I find myself thinking that perhaps this is a social problem masquerading as (or locked in a unsightly manner of intimate embrace with) a technical one, like power distribution. (Which may or may not be a faulty metaphor)

What I am going to say is likely nothing new, but I'm hoping it will get people going.

What it seems to me is the case is that:

-In areas that got internet connectivity earlier, the infrastructure isn't being updated because the system is privatized and the providers don't see a profit in it, so you've got better speeds in Budapest than in Boston.

-In the US at least, there are a bunch of internet providers who don't feel like serving rural or otherwise "unprofitable" customers, and want to charge as much as the market will bear

-In a related fashion, underegulated monopolies are rearing their ugly heads once more (Hello Rogers! Hello Comcast! Hello AT&T!)

-The desire to hold onto customers by their short and curlies I mean data, as well as the desire to drive 60 work weeks for a semi-mobile and very global workplace/force, means people are hitting "the cloud" (i.e. the bandwidth) with more and more demands.

-I am writing this quickly and likely leaving something out.

It seems like the infrastructure doesn't just need replacing, but a paradigm shift. Physical decentralization, maybe, as well as a change in backbone structure . . . Treatment as a public utility, by both users and by government. I am likely leaving something out here . . . .


25 "This is the baby elephant just now beginning to sneak into the room of interconnected futurists. As shiny and exciting as an always-connected high-bandwidth augmented reality future may sound, the task of actually delivering that in densely populated areas is not a trivial one."

34 "And it doesn't help when you have a few 1000 people walking around with mobile hotspots in their pockets. Either a dedicated card or their phone acting for their iPad or whatever. All stepping on each other as people walk around sharing a total of 11 channels."

Re - Maybe consumption habits need to change. Maybe people could get in the habit of turning off the bandwidth-sucking on their devices when they aren't using it, and then sync it when they are?

30 "I suspect it's because the Javits center would rather sell me wifi at $50 a day during the conference than serve up reasonable GSM/EDGE bandwidth via T-Mobile"

And again -- the concept of internet as a public utility like clean running water or electricity (although a significant proportion of the planet lacks access to either) is terrifying but inescapable.

42 "unlocking is a pain"

Definitely a social problem.

I keep coming back to capitalism as the source of all of these ills, but the argument that people usually make to me when I say that is that the kind of technical progress that brought the internet and ignited the computing explosion over the past thirty years is impossible under say, some kind of socialist system.

I haven't found a way to effectively rebut that argument, but I know it has got to be a load of hooey.


Thoughts?

57:

Charlie, I hope the DRM experiment works in the book world.

There seems to be evidence that artists have lost out in the music world. See http://thetrichordist.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/meet-the-new-boss-worse-than-the-old-boss-full-post/

58:

About five years ago, I helped to organise an international conference on Grid Computing at a UK conference centre. I asked the manager if they supported wifi and of course they said yes. Then I explained just how many connections we were expecting - 600-1000 geeks who would all have their laptops and phones on constantly. He realised he was going to need more bandwidth, arranged for a new fibre connection, and allowed us to connect our own wifi network.

Basically, before our convention they had only encountered a few people checking their mail between sessions. I assume that our scenario is now much more common, but it will take a while before all conference centres catch up.

(Which conference centre I was dealing with doesn't matter, but I'll note that it wasn't in the city where I live).

59:

i'm wondering if you think the next "turd in the punchbowl" will be regional locking of purchasing digital content. We all know it's increasing not decreasing

Do we?

When DVDs came out all those years ago :) the initial drive was for region-locked DVDs and DVD players; that now seems far less of an issue, and "Region 0" players are not hard to find (nor are hacks to the players to allow their setting to another region).

With Blu-Ray players, the studios mostly seem to release their discs region-free.

60:

Perhaps this has been said before, but the rise of e-books makes it more current.

It seems to me that there is the potential to create a marketplace that removes the intermediaries.

What if OGH were to start that, by creating a market free of barriers? If he started smallish, then he could charge you and me what he thought his words were worth. If others joined in then a pricing mechanism would kick in. The good stuff would rise and the poor fall. OGH would become rich.

It would be as fair, or unfair, as any other market. With the difference that we'd at least know that the books at the top were popular. If you are like me, and have bought Science Fiction on the basis of recommendation alone, you will know that that's a bit of a lottery.

61:
He realised he was going to need more bandwidth, arranged for a new fibre connection

As a matter of interest, what was the lead time on that?

62:

Most large buildings have a dark fiber entrance now; usually, "new fiber" is "dropping off a new fiber unit and bringing up a new line", not digging a trench. That's usually a few days.

Things have changed a lot at convention centers since I was the first person in history to bring a T-1 line all the way out to my booth at Comdex...

63:

You can point out that the genesis of the internet was the product of the military-industrial complex which is every bit as command and control oriented as any socialist system.

The semiconductor industry grew rapidly because the military could afford high priced integrated circuits that were not viable in the commercial market.

The ARPAnet came into being to allow easy communication between university Computer Science departments that were doing graphics and speech synthesis research for the military. It was also proof of concept for a military command and control network that could survive a nuclear attack.

64:

Treatment [of the ability to connect to the internet] as a public utility, by both users and by government.

Language barriers prevent me from verifying primary sources, but if I understand correctly, this is mandated by law in Finland: the Finnish government is making some services internet-only, and channels the resulting cost savings to subsidies for telecom operators to provide rural coverage with 3G data services and to decent internet connections at every local library. In return, the telecom operators are obligated to provide full coverage in all but the most remote (truly unpopulared) areas. Also, if I understand correctly, using an open wi-fi network is explicitly legal in Finland.

65:

"With Blu-Ray players, the studios mostly seem to release their discs region-free."

Thanks, probably, to bittorrent and piracy.
The studios know that once a disc is released it will be pirated immediately and having a large segment of its customer base waiting their turn to see the movie at home is an invitation to being ripped off instantly.

66:

He realised he was going to need more bandwidth, arranged for a new fibre connection
As a matter of interest, what was the lead time on that?

Just went through this for an office in Raleigh NC. (The population of Raleigh is a little under 500K for reference.)

Lead time was quoted as 60 days IF you have fiber on your street. This is from AT&T for Metro Ethernet. Now we were not using AT&T for our ISP but a local firm that mostly did fiber connections. But they purchased wholesale from AT&T and sold the bandwidth retail to us.

Now the 60 days wasn't just for AT&T. We had to schedule site visits with two different engineers. Inside and outside. Outside came with drawings showing where fiber conduits were under the street and were interconnection pods were located. Then in coordination with us we all determined where fiber would enter building. This can be a bit complicated if you can't tell where the other utilities are located and have to bring them in for consultation.

Now you meet with inside engineer and that person approves your inside termination point. Power, grounding, access, etc. Then YOU get to provide a 2" conduit from outside the building to the inside termination point with no more than 180 degrees of bends without putting up a 18" square access panel.

Now AT&T digs as needed in street/sidewalk dealing with permits and other utilities as needed to edge of your property. You install conduit as spec'd and get another visit to approve your conduit. Then AT&T shows up and pulls fiber. Then AT&T shows up and lights up fiber to THEIR box. Then your ISP shows up adds their box and then tells you you can plug in.

Now the actual effort can vary greatly depending on how new and future proofed your building service entrances are. Our building was 100 year old warehouse with no existing conduit entrances. And they can go overhead but not for us due to a lot of bad no longer allowed things overhead on our street that would have caused a cascade of re-wiring for most of our block. And we kept quiet about the buried rail road tracks about 2' down on the street until after they committed to a date. Turns out they didn't have to go deep enough to hit them.

67:

Wrong: the curve BEA is on the downside of is 30,000 folks with smartphones in a 3-block area.

(You may have missed the e-publishing and blogging sub-shows going on simultaneously at BEA ...)

68:

I keep coming back to capitalism as the source of all of these ills, but the argument that people usually make to me when I say that is that the kind of technical progress that brought the internet and ignited the computing explosion over the past thirty years is impossible under say, some kind of socialist system.

You are, I think, correct. (And I think David Graeber agrees with us.) The computing explosion was ignited by huge funding from the military-industrial complex, then drawn by consumer demand during the 1980s ... then turned into a honeypot for every scammer and shyster in business by the late 1990s and subsequent bubble era.

69:

The problem is the current form of capitalism is closely beginning to resemble the paperclip maximizer AIs of singularitarian distopias. Tiling the universe with benjamins instead of smiley faces.

70:
I suspect it's because the Javits center would rather sell me wifi at $50 a day during the conference than serve up reasonable GSM/EDGE bandwidth via T-Mobile ...

I think the place this all starts is the $250-and-up network drop. (IIRC $250 was the charge for a 64k drop--you read that right--at Renovation, so apply whatever multiplier is appropriate for Javits and then another for the amount of bandwidth you want.) The wifi is then priced to avoid autocannibalization of the wired drops, so everybody hops onto the cellular network or runs their booth offline.

Cellular then has further issues because Sprint can't keep up in general, AT&T is famously bad in NYC, T-Mobile can only service a small percentage of devices on UMTS due to their unusual frequency plan (until they finish their next network upgrade)...

71:

David L:

Lead time was quoted as 60 days IF you have fiber on your street.

It can be less than 60 days even if they need to trench a couple or three blocks of major metro area street, but only in extremis.

My boss/company owner and I got two blocks of Market Street and one block of Geary in San Francisco dug up for a couple of weeks, and then a month later got the same three blocks dug up AGAIN for another couple of weeks by the other major fiber provider at the time. Walking from BART to work each day past the horrific traffic snarl we'd caused was slightly surreal.

Ah, the early 1990s...

72:

You're conflating region locking physical products (DVD's Blu-rays, etc) with region locking digital distribution channels. The latter is where the problem exists with the ebook market, although it is by no means limited to the ebook market (Netflix, PSN etc have similar problems).

If I were to ask anyone who I know what their biggest gripe with their ebook reader is, it would be the number of times they see "We're sorry we can't sell you this book because it is not available in your region: Asia/Pacific". This is of course because I live in New Zealand, I imagine people living in the USA don't really notice the problem.

73:

Lead time was quoted as 60 days IF you have fiber on your street.

It can be less than 60 days even if they need to trench a couple or three blocks of major metro area street, but only in extremis.

Ours might have happened sooner but we tried to be polite and work with them and have this done at the same time as another issue. The wired phone lines into this building were routed thought a 50+ year old connection point in the warehouse across the alley. Through the air both ways. And this wire was against building codes and AT&T standards and a renovation was going to wipe out the connection point in the other building. AT&T didn't have any records of easements so they were willing to work with us and do the copper phone lines and fiber all at the same time. Which involved 4 or 5 groups within AT&T and what seemed like an endless list of subcontractors. I think they were down to one dug the holes while another filled them in.

And AT&T was trying real hard to not see other issues with aerial wires being way too close to power lines and such and was somewhat happy and willing to move much of it underground as a part of the fiber install.

74:

The "not available in your region" is a hangover from the old model where exclusive rights could be sold into different regions which could mean that an author might have English language editions from three different publishers on three different continents. Those agreements still exist so either each publisher produces their own ebook version and has it region locked appropriately or the publishers do a bit of horse trading to consolidate the backlists into world rights agreements. I don't think here has been much of the latter yet, even although it is the more sensible option. For new titles most publishers are demanding world rights which sidesteps the whole problem.

The old system of regional rights was actually a pretty good deal for authors in far-away places (i.e. not USA or UK). They could sell local rights at a price that the local publishers could afford and hopefully establish a track record of healthy sales. This would make it easier for their agent to then sell UK and/or US rights to a publisher who may not ever meet the author. Another added benefit was that if a book tanked in any market you still might be a success in another. I know a couple of local authors, one who is very successful in the UK but not the US and another whose US best seller went nowhere in the UK. If either had sold worldwide rights to the wrong publisher their career may already have been history. Then there is the Australian author whose US publisher (with worldwide rights) doesn't even bother to import his books into Australia.

75:

The big question for me is whether this crap is still happening with *new* book contracts. I can understand and live with (bar some grumbling) the requirement for zillions of individual contract renegotiations delaying sorting out region locking on the long tail, but new book contracts shouldn't have that issue.

I guess the problem here is that the logistical reasons for regional contracts still make sense for dead tree versions, but publishers want to get both the electronic and paper rights in the same contract. This isn't a new problem, though, so I hope its been worked out.

76:

The big question for me is whether this crap is still happening with *new* book contracts.

Yes it is. And we -- the authors -- like it. We'll only give it up when the publishers start acting like real whole-world publishers, rather than buying world rights, using their local rights, and trying to re-sell the other territorial rights they bought to other publishers (usually in a half-assed way, because a clerk in the sub-rights department is nothing like as effective at selling overseas rights as a literary agent on a 15-20% commission).

Hint: what a US publisher offers for world english language rights (by way of a book advance) and what they offer for North American rights only are usually exactly equal sums. Whereas, by splitting the rights into US/Canada and UK/Commonwealth, I can raise an extra 50% on top of what I'd get for world rights.

77:

I should add: a chunk of the problem is that a certain large ebook retailer from Seattle are rather bone-headed about enforcing territorial rights. I gather that if a US publisher acquires world English language rights, AMZN won't let them sell ebooks directly into the UK market, but insist that they can only speak to the British licensee about sales in that market -- even if there is no British licensee because the US company holds those rights! (I may have gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick, but I did get that the publisher who was telling me this was more than a little irritated by it.)

AMZN's motive is threefold: (a) they don't want to risk being sued if some US publisher claims UK rights that they don't actually have, (b) there may be VAT-related issues (ebooks are VATable in the EU), and (c) AMZN may be playing divide-and-conquer again, film at 11.

78:

Which rally isn't that annoying for a lot of newly published books, but it is really, really annoying when AMZN US have an almost entire back catalogue of people like Herbert, Asimov, and the like while AMZN UK have ONE foundation novel*, and miss out some of the Dune saga.

This doesn't just hit SF as a genre... Some of my favourite detective series are equally well served in the US and really crap on the UK store.

Really, REALLY annoying of course is that by and large this is in the case of DEAD authors who probably don't care a great deal what territorial sales deals their publishers have.**

*The crazy thing is it isn't even Foundation, they have made available in the UK.. It's Second Foundation... How mad is that?

** Yes, I know their estates probably do

79:

I think it depends. Free market capitalism seems to be pretty bad at building up and upgrading coordinated infrastructures, but I think it is actually pretty good at building routers and ok at choosing between standards.

I prefer pragmatism to either 'capitalism, rah' or 'capitalism, blah.' Free market capitalistic systems are pretty good for some things and fairly poor for others. One role for lawmakers is to set up regulation where straight capitalism is not optimal. A commonsensical approach is to look at what other people have done and how well it has worked.

That said, the countries with 'good' internet and wireless have either learned from earlier installations or have a fair amount of government intervention. (S. Korea, eg). So, I believe that internet may function better as a regulated monopoly.

OTOH, the technical developments necessary to build fast internet were mostly brought to market in a highly capitalistic system - and I suspect that that area of endeavor would not benefit at all from regulation.

Overall, I am fairly skeptical about the efficacy of straight communism for most endeavors. Communes do seem to work fairly well, but there seems to be a certain amount of drift and dysfunction that scales with time and size.

I also am wondering a bit about the possibility of random factors. The remaining non-internet advertising market in the US is weighted pretty heavily towards TV and is significantly larger than the internet market. I can't help wondering how much Google, eg, would be willing to spend to access that market. For instance, would they be willing to install a cheapish fiber network in the USA? Maybe they'd call it 'Google Fiber'? ;) ...and claim the initial attempt was a R&D project. Other than enterprise software, games, and social networking - that seems to be the most obvious path for expansion. It would probably also make Chrome OS a much more attractive candidate and would, longer-term, quite possibly make it possible to go into wireless internet.

(Hopefully not double-posted...)

The main problem? Well, they'd probably need to get to 50 USD monthly to be competitive and they'd need to do that with installation costs that will probably be >400 USD.

--Erwin

80:

(off-topic) Although...I wonder whether or not communism's failure in large groups is inherent to the system or just an outgrowth of human tribal instincts. I guess it might work quite well for a different intelligent species.

--Erwin

81:

That said, the countries with 'good' internet and wireless have either learned from earlier installations or have a fair amount of government intervention. (S. Korea, eg). So, I believe that internet may function better as a regulated monopoly.

Everyytime I look at relative connections speeds by country it seems that the best speeds are in countries that are geographically compact. Japan, Finland, Singapore, Korea, etc... Especially those where much of the population lives in just a few cities. Korea, Singapore, etc...

Now this does not explain why the UK isn't at the near the top of such lists.

In the US back haul capacity is a big issue. No one wants to pay to wire fiber between small towns in Montana except maybe small towns in Montana who would be in favor of a nation plan to do to. And this issue is likely what makes it easier for Korea to have a faster nationwide speed rating as their back haul needs aren't all that extensive compared to many single states in the US such as Texas, California, or even a smaller state such as North Carolina.

82:

The situation on VAT for ebooks is not so complicated.

If the server the ebooks is distributed from is inside the EU, the VAT is charged by the rules at the server location.

If the server is outside the EU, the VAT is charged at the rate in the purchasers country.

So a book sold from a publisher's server in New York will, for me in the UK, attract 20% VAT. But buy it through Amazon UK, and because their servers are in Luxembourg, the VAT charged is now 3%.

A worldwide publishing business might find it worthwhile distributing ebooks from Luxembourg. It just doesn't make sense to distribute ebooks to the EU from the USA.

83:

If the server the ebooks is distributed from is inside the EU, the VAT is charged by the rules at the server location.

This assumes that the software/server combination is at a fixed location day to day or even minute to minute.

84:

I agree that the 'We won't sell it to you' issue is getting worse IME. Annoying when you are trying to buy the DVD of a series that you torrented because it was being broadcast FTA here, didn't do well, and broadcast stopped (actually paused for several weeks, but I didn't know that at the time). I do try to send the right signals to producers.
Torrenting is also very handy when your DVR has a hiccup. Episode possibly available on local TV website, but torrent is more reliable.

85:

Back some years ago there was a boom in fiber in the USA. Last I read %80+ is not in use. The price is not yet right. The wonder of Free market capitalism? I keep reading that we have the slowest speed in the west. I've been saying what Free market for years now.
So what happened to the new Laundry book. Do they think it will PO the Right here in America?

86:

"In the US back haul capacity is a big issue. No one wants to pay to wire fiber between small towns in Montana except maybe small towns in Montana who would be in favor of a nation plan to do to. And this issue is likely what makes it easier for Korea to have a faster nationwide speed rating as their back haul needs aren't all that extensive compared to many single states in the US such as Texas, California, or even a smaller state such as North Carolina."

If you read back up the comments, there are plenty of complaints about cell phone and internet service in the more densely populated areas.

In the end, it's probably more important that the governments of S. Korea, etc. made an effort to wire their countries.

87:

If you read back up the comments, there are plenty of complaints about cell phone and internet service in the more densely populated areas.

Agreed. But for whatever reason in the US this seems confined to NYC and SF. Mostly. Sort of. Since the service providers have to flat rate across service areas the most densely populated areas can suffer at the same time as thinly populated areas. (In the US this discussion can quickly get deep in the weeds of state public service commissions, the FCC, FTC, free markets, how AT&T got to be a tolerated monopoly, etc...) But SF and NYC seem to be edge cases. Just the opposite edge from Montana.

Although a fan of free markets for many things I'm been of the thought for a long time that Internet service needs to move to more of a public utility model. Not that this would cure all ills but it does make sense to me to disconnect content providing from piping bits around. As long as the bit/pipe providers are selling content they are going to build out bit capacity only when forced to do so or when they can use it to sell more wrestling pay per view shows.

88:

Back some years ago there was a boom in fiber in the USA. Last I read %80+ is not in use. The price is not yet right. The wonder of Free market capitalism?

80% was likely dark in 2002 or so. But since then Google has bought up and supposedly used a lot of it that was built for long haul to interconnect their data centers. And Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, and I suspect others have been building out fiber to local nodes or even homes/businesses so the overall dark percentage has to be going down. Here in Raleigh the local power company used their pole right of ways to string fiber all over the downtown before the bust. I suspect that one of the local downtown Metro E providers has bought all of that up.

Now there is that 2" bundle that runs under my front yard and most of my neighborhood that was done just before the bust. That's still dark and the company that did it is long gone.

89:

The problem of applying the capitalist model to such services is that maximizing profit does not equal maximizing service to the consumer.

90:

I know the cloud and other virtualisations make physical location of systems uncertain. I rather doubt that such technologies will save enough money to offset the VAT effects, not when the server cost per book sold is so low.

Getting the VAT set-up right involves as big a chunk of the customer-price as paying the author. And the politicians could end up screwing all of us, readers, publishers, and authors.

91:

Every time I look at relative connections speeds by country it seems that the best speeds are in countries that are geographically compact. Japan, Finland, Singapore, Korea, etc... Especially those where much of the population lives in just a few cities. Korea, Singapore, etc...

Now this does not explain why the UK isn't at the near the top of such lists.

Er, the UK is not that geographically compact, hard as it seems to be for some residents of SE England to believe this.
To a first order approximation, "Greater London" has the same population as Scotland.

Starting just off the M25, and not meeting heavy traffic, you will need 5 to 6 hours to drive to Carlisle. Assuming about the same cruising speed (a big assumption once you're North of Perth) it will take you about as long again to get to Thurso (most northerly town on the British mainland). If your car could drive over open sea at 60mph, you would still need another 2 hours or so to reach Lerwick in the Shetlands.

92:

The problem of applying the capitalist model to such services is that maximizing profit does not equal maximizing service to the consumer.

What services did you read me to say should have a capitalist model applied to them?

93:

Er, the UK is not that geographically compact

Per this web site:
https://mapfight.appspot.com/
it is smaller by non trivial amounts than Italy, German, France, and Spain.

And only about 3% of the size of the US even excluding Alaska and HI.

UK/England isn't all that big. Heck it's smaller than Japan. Now it IS 2.5 times the size of Korea. :)

94:

Clearly the point that your concern is about population density rather than simply geographical area wasn't made adequately clearly.

95:

Well, if you really want not geographically compact at all, go for Finland. Less than half the population density of the US as a whole, nearly the size of California.

(Neat app, that. It seems to be missing Alaska, though.)

What they do have is good infrastructure. And one reason why the Finns are so prominent in the mobile phone arena (so that for a number of years Nokia was the world leader) is because of that low population density: if you're already using microwave links instead of buried cable to get your phone lines across the country, it's relatively obvious to start building cell towers rather than running cables to all those scattered properties.

96:

It seems to be missing Alaska, though

Uh, Alaska isn't a country. Texas thinks of itself as one but Alaska, no.

97:

California?

It's not a country either, but it's still included in the list. If one is going to include both Texas and California as individual US states, then to omit the largest of them all seems somewhat odd.

98:

To a first order approximation, "Greater London" has the same population as Scotland.

Pedant alert: to a first order approximation, "Greater London" is an order of magnitude up from Scotland (roughly 7 million in London-the-city, around 15 million in Greater London, maybe 20 million in commuter dorms up to 50 miles out). Scotland: 5.1 million people.

But yes, the point stands. Nowhere on Great Britain (the land mass) is more than 55 miles from the sea, but driving from Land's End in the south-west to the far north-west will cover nearly a thousand miles. London is a giant bulls-eye about a quarter to a third of the way north along that route.

99:

The British isles would pretty much fit entirely into the state of Kansas, which might be worth it for the culture shock alone. Perhaps a story idea for OGH?

100:

I justwanted to say, damn, that cat video is weird. People are strange,

101:

@ 91
The reason travel speeds are low in the UK is persistent refusal to invest in higher-speed rail infrastructure.
Unlike France, Spain, Germany, etc.
All dating back to an ubelievably corrupt Minister of Transport (Marples)

102:

Birmingham is a better fit to the bullseye on that route.

London is way off to one side. It's why we have a Prince Of Wales. He is responsible for adjusting the position of the Welsh mountains to stop constructions of new buildings in London from toppling the country over.

Did you really think his son was flying helicopters in Anglesey for Air-Sea Rescue? No, it's all about the stability of the realm.

(Charles is also Duke of Cornwall, Earl of Chester, and High Steward of Scotland.)

103:

It's all relative. Train speeds in the UK are incredibly high compared to train speeds in Canada.

104:

@97:
California? It's not a country either
---
Actually, it is, with its own constitution, head of state, legislature, legal system, navy, army, and air force.

De jure, the only thing that limits California is its agreement not to conduct wars or make treaties with foreign powers, which was part of the deal when it became a member state of the United States of America.

De facto, the Federal government inserted its tentacles one by one to make it into a sock puppet.

If the EU survives, its member states will probably meet the same fate in a century or two.

(yeah, sure, that wasn't going to happen to California either...)

105:

Neither of them make a great fit as a bulls-eye on my original route which started in London.

You want someplace more like Carlisle or possibly Glasgow I think.

106:

As an Example ..in my own present location in a very large town in the North East of England - population ' ..280807 at the time of the 2001 census ' - I can actually see the North Sea from my office/rear bedroom window; though it's a wedge shaped, between the rooftops, view with ships appearing to sail across the horizon between those rooftops. Of course the same sort of view can be seen by many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people here in the U.K.

You have to make a real effort to get far away from the sight and smell of the sea in The U.K.

107:

To Whom So Ever in Moderation and Editing ...I haven't the Slightest notion of how that duplicated post 106/107 happened. I'm reasonably sure that I didn't post twice. The Ways of the Gohds of The Web are Strange.

[[ It's been happening a lot recently, so it's not just you ]]

108:

Any significant update yet about how much difference this makes in your earlier forecast of Amazon monopsony on e-book sales? Can you make or point us at a reasonable guess of the probable order of domino falling in DRM holdouts?

109:


re
64
"The Finnish government is making some services internet-only, and channels the resulting cost savings to subsidies for telecom operators to provide rural coverage with 3G data services and to decent internet connections at every local library. In return, the telecom operators are obligated to provide full coverage in all but the most remote (truly unpopulated) areas. Also, if I understand correctly, using an open wi-fi network is explicitly legal in Finland."

re
95
"if you're already using microwave links instead of buried cable to get your phone lines across the country, it's relatively obvious to start building cell towers rather than running cables to all those scattered properties."

Perhaps a paradigm shift in delivery technology for remote areas as well as cities would make sense in various regions. I wish I presently had the background to assess what present technologies would be realistically optimal for this sort of transformation within the next five years in their present forms, with minimized investment and without any giant leaps forward in R&D.

On the matter of the US, it has serious infrastructure issues, from bridges and roads to its thrashingly dysfunctional rail system, lack of proper support for public transit (case studies: Washington with its fancy rail system no one can afford and draconian traffic laws, so the commuters share cars with whoever comes along, and Boston where the cost of a boondoogle highway project is allowed to drag down the aging and overstressed MBTA). As has been said before by so many properly qualified commentators, Keynesian investment in those systems, as well as formalized in depth governmental oversight of internet infrastructure on the state and federal level (whether public/private partnerships as discussed in Finland, or more preferably, corporations serving

79
"The main problem? Well, they'd probably need to get to 50 USD monthly to be competitive and they'd need to do that with installation costs that will probably be >400 USD."

89
"The problem of applying the capitalist model to such services is that maximizing profit does not equal maximizing service to the consumer."

In the States, if the telecoms can afford to spend so much money on advertising, they can afford to defray consumer costs. Better yet, fix the income tax system there, apply some of the proceeds to a real digital economy push. [OT: Of course, the dysfunctional social welfare system, including education, could use some of those funds, but in the States . . . yeah right . . . ]


A model I wish I could construct: what the computing revolution would look like

1) in a genuine socialist state

2) in a communist state

(the above without influences from any "capitalist" states nearby. I put that term in quotation marks because "capitalism" in the 20th century, rather than any sort of free market governed entirely by self interest (although as has been noted in various quarters, self interest is notoriously manipulable) mostly seems like an inverse of mercantilism: instead of the government running a business, businesses run the government.)

if anyone knows of an academic model of the above, I'd LOVE to read it.

110:

ack. I seem to have posted the previous comment before I was done writing. Sorry.

To finish the incomplete sentence . . .


As has been said before by so many properly qualified commentators, Keynesian investment in those systems, as well as formalized in depth governmental oversight of internet infrastructure on the state and federal level would be in the public interest. Now it might take the form of public/private partnerships as discussed in Finland (more realistic for the US as it is now), or more preferably, WPA-style public investment projects that cut out the middleman and create jobs, as private contractors have leeched funds out of federal and state governments in the US for the past fifty years with great abandon . . .

And in regard to anything I said, if you think I'm wrong, tell me so. In my lifetime, I have not seen anything but a dysfunctional relationship between business and government. (If you've read the Laundry Series, there's some of that there . . . )

But things like that Finnish example give me little dollops of hope.

111:

On my last vacation in England I visited Cambridge, Milton Keynes,Oxford and Sandringham. Never saw the sea at all.

For my next vacation there I was hoping to visit London, Windsor and Cambridge again. No sea in view in that case either.

Which is a bit weird because I love the sea. Too bad I never have time to look at it except from way up high in a big airplane.

112:

Dear pinko, I am mostly in accord with your point of view about the telco-behemoths/monopolies in the western, English-speaking countries. That said, if you want to start building a five year plan to implementing improved public telecommunications access as a municipal, government utility in lagging western nations... perhaps the comments of a blog post where Charlie is blogging about DRM-issue news in the e-book market is not the right place?
OGH should get to this issue eventually, possibly sooner than later. Sadly, it's unlikely that significant opposition to privatized-profit, entrenched, backwards, telecommunications-bureaus will have sprung up and solved the issue before he decides it's time to have that discussion. It'll keep.

113:

Sandringham House is within 5 miles of the sea, but there is a good deal of woodland blocking the view.

114:

Well, all right then ... But ...


" The Easterly wind could well have picked up smells from sewerage works out towards the Thames Gateway area – or even smells from the North Sea. "


http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2008/04/18/strange-smells-in-london/


" Daily seagull commute SW London
I live in surbiton and have noticed each day as the sun is coming up there are a large number of seagulls heading towards central London in groups. Then again also as I return home they are flying back in the opposite direction, it sounds crazy but almost like they are commuting.

Has anyone else noticed and / or can explain what they are doing?"


http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/forums/british-birds/81000-daily-seagull-commute-sw-london.html


Seriously through you really ought to consider a side trip to London On Sea, aka Brighton, when next you visit, " London, Windsor and Cambridge " again. Lots of Sea in the form of the ever so historically important English Channel and innumerable cheap small hotels and boarding houses.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Channel


Cambridge is dull by comparison - unless you have reasons to make an Academically Associated visit of course, and even then Oxford would be a better choice.

115:

'Oxford a better choice'?

You're lucky your comment didn't get cancelled for blatant trolling.

116:

"Yes, and Tor will continue to run an active compliance department. In fact, they're beefing it up."

Good.

"On the other hand, I have it from no less a luminary than Fritz Foy (who effectively wears the hat of the Macmillan group-wide CIO) that they don't intend to emulate the RIAA or MPAA by suing the crap out of random ordinary folks to the tune of several times the planetary GDP."

Also good.

Since John Scalzi and you are two of the authors I pay first-run ebook prices for, it is good to see that Tor is acting reasonably, neither letting piracy run totally rampant nor acting like jerks in a way that will hurt themselves, authors I like, and people who are, as you say, random ordinary folks.

Good luck on your new book. I am saving it for my Chicago-Dublin flight next month...

Scott

117:

London is a seaside town - there's a seven metre tide at London Bridge. The water's not as salty as the open sea, but it's very brackish and there were plenty of salt marshes before the city got fully built up, not to mention the seagoing ships at Docklands and the Pool. I reckon London is as marine as Southend or Whitstable...

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