Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom


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  1. Unfortunately, and utterly wrong-headedly, many libraries these days don't actually take donated books anymore—for their shelves, anyway; they usually end up in book sales.

    Here's my advice for what to do with the book if you don't want it: go to , slap a label on it, and set it free!

    Comment by Robotech_Master — January 15, 2003 @ 12:52 am

  2. Oddly enough, I also noticed that William Gibson's new book, "Pattern Recognition" is also listed as being released on Dec 31, 1969.

    Stupid Amazon, I ordered "Down And Out..." a week ago and it won't ship until February 4. Barnes and Noble has it stocked and is shipping within 2-3 days.

    Comment by kimmie — January 15, 2003 @ 8:08 pm

  3. B-b-but...

    Everybody knows that time began 00:00:00 GMT, January 1, 1970!

    Comment by Brian McGroarty — January 16, 2003 @ 2:39 pm

  4. Maybe you'll find this interesting. Nowadays in Russia, the majority of scifi publishers and authors release books electronically as well as on paper. There are huge online libraries with Russian-language scifi and other works, all completely legal. The only difference is that they usually release a book electronically some time after it's launched on paper (usually in a few months), so the publisher can get good revenue from sales in the first hot months and the author can still reach the widest possible audience. (Many Russians live abroad, and for them it's not easy or cheap to get books from Moscow publishers.) So for most authors, all of their books except for the most recent title can be downloaded for free. I'm glad to see this model is starting to be used in the English speaking world, but I'd suggest that you also consider using a time gap between paper and electronic releases. I think this will make the scheme more viable commercially, so that not only top ten authors can use it (and still make profit) but the hordes of less-successful writers as well. We need much more than one great release for this publishing scheme to become norm rather than a curiosity.

    Comment by bulia byak — January 18, 2003 @ 12:45 am

  5. What about your publisher taking contributions? I'd be interested in donating the amount that's ultimately cleared on a dead tree paperback.

    I read the book on my Palm Pilot on the subway over the past week and really enjoyed it.

    Comment by Mike Beachy — January 28, 2003 @ 5:33 am

  6. Well, there *is* no paperback edition, but that aside, the cost of bookeeping an entirely new type of transaction (which would also include the cost of my agent and my publisher's lawyers negotiating how to handle this kind of transaction) would far exceed that kind of sum -- IOW, they'd save money if they tore up your check.

    Comment by Cory Doctorow — January 28, 2003 @ 7:46 am

  7. My friends and I are curious about how the experiment is going with the Creative Commons licence. Are sales good? Is there somewhere we can go to look this kind of thing up?

    Comment by Bubblesort — March 22, 2003 @ 4:21 pm

  8. Publishing is *really slow*, so it takes about a year to find out how a book really sells (publishers don't sell books to stores and distributors -- they consign them, so until the returns come back, all you know is how well the book has shipped, not how well it sold).

    That said, all signs -- Booksense rank, Amazon rank, copies shipped -- point to this book selling fantastically well.

    Comment by Cory Doctorow — March 22, 2003 @ 8:59 pm

  9. Funny, when I was backforming "Whuffie" in my head, I kept coming up with acronyms: WFI or WFE. "World Favourites Index", for instance. Or "Well-Favouredness Index". Nothing satisfactory yet, though. It bothered me vaguely that the term's origin was non-obvious and yet never ever alluded to in the book. To find out it's a high-school in-joke is a bit of a disappointment.

    Comment by Alfvaen — May 30, 2003 @ 11:13 am

  10. I'm curious, I know you don't have a tip jar, but would your publisher allow you to have one?

    Comment by Colin — October 11, 2003 @ 3:02 am

  11. I spect they might -- I've never asked!

    Comment by Cory Doctorow — October 11, 2003 @ 5:59 am

  12. Isn't it true that 'Down and Out' was 1st pubbed online, and only afterwards picked up by a dead-tree publisher? Or is that just a rumor?

    Comment by VeeJay — June 21, 2006 @ 9:57 pm

  13. Can someone explain the words that don't have a meaning in today's vocabulary? I mean, what is an ad-hoc? And a cochlea? And a Whuffie (definition, not origin)?

    Comment by Joe — July 30, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

  14. Joe:
    ad-hoc is a latin phrase meaning "for this [purpose]" check out for more info.
    The cochlea is a part of the inner ear, that turns sound into nerve impulses.
    Whuffie is a term Cory made up, somewhat analogous to a currency based on reputation.

    Comment by Mike Matthews — September 25, 2006 @ 8:58 pm

  15. I'm still quite curious about the sales at this point. Comment 8 addresses this but is currently quite dated. In the years retrospect what have sales been like. Perhaps some tangible numbers would be available at this point? I address ideas of property rights and profit quite often and this would be another excellent example.

    Comment by zro — February 12, 2007 @ 9:57 pm

  16. What was the inspiration to "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom"? In the future we could do anything, how ever Cory has decided to use Disney World. Did the urban legend of Walt Disney's cryogenic freezing help inspire this book, and why did we not bring Disney back in the book?

    Comment by Debralee — November 9, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  17. Пробуйте, попытайтесь))

    Comment by ALIVE — July 21, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

  18. Hey Cory,

    I guess many of the comments are pointing to the same thing: readers and wannabe-authors alike would like to know the nuts and bolts of your approach. What steps did you take and in what order? What have you learned? How should one go about publishing a book both in print and online?

    Two thumbs up!

    PS. I'll drop you an email regarding "Mind your elephant".

    Comment by Tomi Astikainen — November 25, 2009 @ 4:54 am

  19. Hi Cory. Just finished Down & Out. Read it on the Stanza iPhone app (a surprisingly readable app once I'd inverted the colors). I have one etymology question. Where did the term "bitchun" come from? In my head I kept hearing a Jeff Spicoli voice going, "bitchin', duuude", which seemed wrong somehow...

    I want my orbital space orgy, dammit!

    Comment by Jim — January 1, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  20. What is the word count for Down and Out?

    Comment by esau — November 19, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

  21. @ Brian McGroarty:

    ROFL re when time began - it's the piece of the puzzle Einstein was missing! (presumably Amazon's programmers have since mastered the intricacies of converting UNIX time to human).

    Comment by phédre — February 18, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

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