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Brief commercial interlude

Thanks to COVID19 I'm not currently attending SF conventions in person, or traveling.

This means that for the time being there is only one source of signed copies of my books: Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh. Follow the link to order copies for mail delivery within the UK.

(You can also email for details of international postage, but be warned, Brexit has messed everything up, and we have a pandemic and a print supply chain crunch on top.)

Note that Transreal is not currently open to walk-ins—the ceiling collapsed just before Christmas, and Mike has the builders in. Hopefully he'll reopen within a week or two: in the meantime, he's operating as mail-order only.

Update (16 January): Supply chain issues have intervened and not all Transreal's stock has arrived yet. I'm staying home to avoid Omicron (I have a book to finish, I do not need COVID-induced brain fog), so I'm deferring my trip to Transreal to sign stock until they're all ready for me. This will not be before Friday 21st—most likely in the week beginning Monday 24th.



Epub bought in Germany from non-Amazon source. DRM removed. Now stacked on my ereader as next purely for pleasure read after I've finished with the Mick Herron.


What DRM? I thought Tor sold them without DRM (or at least the shop I bought my epub from didn't have anything of the sort).


To quote Charlie from the previous thread:

Charlie Stross replied to this comment from MSB | January 11, 2022 13:16 | Reply 524: On DRM:

Tor and release ebooks without DRM. is the US publisher.

Orbit, the UK publisher, a different company (and a subsidiary of Hachette, not Macmillan) insist on DRM on all ebooks.


Thanks, I'd missed that. Guess I was just fortunate to get the US edition then.


Mary Most-Certainly-Not-Poppins is a hoot and a half. She had better return in future installments!


... no wait what, Quantum of Nightmares is out (or nearly so?), here I was thinking Invisible Sun was the latest book, which had no DRM. Gaah. My brain, it no work.

brb, pre-ordering / buying / whatever it is that I do with this credit card


Yes, Quantum of Nightmares is out.

Apropos of nothing, the great thing about the Laundryverse is that when a mythos-adjacent (addled?) character is said to be "in the wind," you get to stop and wonder whether that's a reference to: a) Ithaqua b) Hastur c) "Moscow Rules" espionage during the Cold War.

None, one, some, or all of the answers may be appropriate, alone or in combination. Therein lies the fun.


Unsolicited plug for Mike/TransReal: excellent and prompt communication, rapid shipping to the US, truly excellent customer service. Just ordered my signed QoN 😁.


I'm keenly awaiting the arrival of mine from Transreal too.

Happy to deprive Amazon.


There will be a delay in shipping, but it's not on Mike -- first I have to take a lateral flow test, confirm I don't have COVID19, then I have to hike up to his store at a pre-agreed time (remember, the builders are repairing the ceiling that caved in!), and sign everything. It's a bit of a faff, and I'm trying to keep my trips out of my apartment as few as possible -- ideally one a week -- so we wait for orders to taper off before I make the trip.

Almost certainly some time in the next week. (Then Mike usually mails out the orders the same or next day.)


off-topic note to the admins:

The comment thread of the PSA: Publishing supply chain shortages post a while back is still open, while the threads of the following posts are already closed. Maybe that is just an oversight?


As I have a Kobo, books flow in without felling trees or passing thru Big River.

I miss signed copies, autograph nights at the bookstore, etc. but love being able to buy books without leaving my room and carrying them all in my pocket.


Well, that didn't go as planned. I just downloaded my copy of the UK-version from the German Kobo store and tried to open the "URLLink.acsm" in Adobe Digital Editions as usual. As a result I get an error box:

"Download nicht möglich

Fehler beim Abrufen der Lizenz. Lizenzserver-Kommunikationsfehler: E_ACT_NOT_READY"

Or in English:

"Download impossible

Error while accessing the license. License server communication error: E_ACT_NOT_READY"

I have upgraded to the latest version of ADE for Mac (4.5.11), and the error persists.

Anybody else having similar problems?


I have no idea: sounds like a license server error at Kobo's end. Can you get a refund?

(If you can buy the US edition it's DRM-free.)


Charlie Stross @ 15: I have no idea: sounds like a license server error at Kobo's end. Can you get a refund?

(If you can buy the US edition it's DRM-free.)

Just out of curiosity, other than the DRM what is the difference between the UK eBook and the US eBook?

I'm presuming there are physical differences between the UK & US print edition books, but what about the text itself?


I'm presuming there are physical differences between the UK & US print edition books, but what about the text itself?

The text is identical: the UK publisher buys the InDesign files from the US publisher and re-runs them for their own paper size.

(Which is good. I know authors who had to deal with checking two sets of copy edits and separate page proofs for the US and UK editions. You don't get paid anything extra for the extra work, which amounts to weeks of detail-oriented nit-picking drudgery.)


Fixed it!

Following the help section of the Kobo website I was sent to Adobe's website where I learned that I had to de-authorize and re-authorize ADE. That worked.


I hate Big River. I really loathe them. I especially dislike them libeling me, asserting I'm a thief, with no evidence.

My SO got me the book - she had a discount. And bought it, and d/l it. I'm trying to copy it onto my tablet, and no joy. (And no, she wasn't planning on reading it.)

So she got it for me, and I can't read it.



Did your SO buy the ebook from Kindle? If so, it's almost certainly a non-DRM'd AZW3 file. Which won't be readable in most e-readers other than the Kindle one ... but can be converted into epub using Calibre. (Hint.)


You can also email for details of international postage, but be warned, Brexit has messed everything up, and we have a pandemic and a print supply chain crunch on top.

For the record, my signed copy of Invisible Sun arrived in 7-10 days to Romania last time and it didn't even get treated as something deserving customs.


@Torp (#21) My copy of Invisible Sun took 10 days to reach me in Germany. Customs had stickered the package, but I too didn't have to pay any extra charges. However, I'm not counting on the same happy result this time.

Current circumstances being what they are, though, I now expect postage to be much slower. As an example, someone sent me a gift in a small parcel from London in early December (low value, below the customs limit) and it arrived only this week. Someone else sent me a similar package from St Albans (close to London) in mid-December via recorded delivery and it arrived only yesterday. That's unusually long, even for the Christmas period.

Mike has communicated very clearly on cost and timing, and I've happily placed my order again. I'm old enough to not be madly impatient...


I didn't even ask for estimates for this one. I just ordered and I'm sure it will eventually come.


Under B099QJ6L88EBOK: B099QJ6L88EBOK.azw B099QJ6L88EBOK.mbpV2 B099QJ6L88EBOK.phl 'CR!25YMXHJZP11H30V7H2Q3599GDY5T.azw.res' 'CR!' amzn1.drm-voucher.v1.7d617724-c913-44b6-8b74-1ddad77c7833.voucher

I really also despise "we can't possibly name the files the title of the book...."


Oh: ebook-convert File "calibre/ebooks/mobi/reader/", line 90, in init This is an Amazon KFX book. It cannot be processed. See for information on how to handle KFX books.


Oh dear. There are issues with Calibre; in particular, to use the DeDRM tools you need Calibre 5.x, not Calibre 6 (Calibre 6 migrated to Python 3 and the DeDRM tools have not yet been ported). You also need to use an old version of the Kindle app to grab ebooks -- if on a PC, try to find a copy of Kindle 1.16 or earlier, and remember to uncheck the "automatically download updates" button the first time you run it (ideally drop your internet connection first, then uncheck the checkbox, before you go online and register the app).


I'm on kubuntu 20.04. Just updated calibre to 5.something, and DeDRM tools to 7.2.1.

Ellen got the book via her PC, and that's running Windows 10 (Win11 wants really expensive hardware, apparently - she just rebuilt her system a year or two ago.


If you're running Calibre on a machine other than the one with the Kindle app, even with DeDRM tools it almost certainly can't find the DRM keys it needs to open any Kindle files whatsoever. You need to install it on the Windows 10 machine and rip your files there.


Ah! Ok, go bother her. Thanks!


You're probably off-by-one with those versions, since I don't see a Calibre version 6 yet at .


Acquired via Waterstones , consumed. Experience suggests I should go back and read it again more carefully.

I have questions which must wait for the spoilerific post


So thinking about auto trains ...

Start with the existing auto-train terminal in Lorton Virginia and add routes:
1. Lorton, VA to Chicago
2. Chicago to Denver, CO
3. Denver to Sacramento
4. Denver to Salt Lake City
5. Salt Lake City to Portland
6. Lorton, VA to Atlanta
7. Atlanta to Dallas-Ft. Worth
8. Dallas-Ft. Worth to Phoenix, AZ
9. Phoeniz to Los Angeles or San Diego.

Start with a combination of two vehicle carriages with a support carriage (bathrooms & lounges). Attach the combination to an existing through freight train (or if there's an existing AmTrak route???). Run it once or twice a week each way. Schedule them so passengers get to one terminal in the evening & unload and the next morning can load up for the next leg.

It wouldn't be for anyone who just has to be there RIGHT NOW! They can still take a transcontinental jet airliner and pay the premium. But it would be a boon to leisure travel for those who aren't interested in staying downtown. The terminals would serve as portals on the way to a destination - like a national park.

Yellowstone National Park is 2,131 miles from Raleigh, but it's only 368 miles from Salt Lake City.

OF COURSE it would have to be subsidized. But I think it's worth subsidizing. The fares shouldn't be any higher than air fare to visit these cities. Hell, the whole transcontinental railroad system in the U.S. was built with Federal subsidies.

So spread those subsidies a bit for the benefit of the people and not just corporate shareholders & banksters.


JBS @ 32:

This is not supposed to be here. It's supposed to be in Oh, 2011!. I apologize for that.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on January 12, 2022 1:04 PM.

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