So, the book launches today. Theoretically, cartons of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom are arriving in bookshops all over the world, even as you read this. I'm pretty psyched.
This site is a way to keep track of the goings-on with the book: stores that are carrying it, new reviews, and general news about the book. I am immensely grateful to Mena Trott and Ben Trott for putting this site together, using their wonderful Movable Type blogging tool.
Most importantly, perhaps, is that this site is a place where you can download the whole goddamned book, completely gratis, in a variety of open, standards-defined formats. These books are licensed under a Creative Commons license. This is a somewhat novel idea. Not a lot of writers have published a free electronic edition simultaneous with their dead-tree-edition novels, and so perhaps a word of explanation is in order.
I'm releasing the entire text of this book as a free, freely redistributable e-book. You can download it, put it on a P2P net, put it on your site, email it to a friend, and, if you're addicted to dead trees, you can even print it.
Why am I doing this thing? Well, it's a long story, but to shorten it up: first-time novelists have a tough row to hoe. Our publishers don't have a lot of promotional budget to throw at unknown factors like us. Mostly, we rise and fall based on word-of-mouth. I'm not bad at word-of-mouth. I have a blog, Boing Boing, where I do a lot of word-of-mouthing. I compulsively tell friends and strangers about things that I like.
And telling people about stuff I like is way, way easier if I can just send it to 'em. Way easier.
What's more, P2P nets kick all kinds of ass. Most of the books, music and movies ever released are not available for sale, anywhere in the world. In the brief time that P2P nets have flourished, the ad-hoc masses of the Internet have managed to put just about *everything* online. What's more, they've done it for cheaper than any other archiving/revival effort ever. I'm a stone infovore and this kinda Internet mishegas gives me a serious frisson of futurosity.
Yeah, there are legal problems. Yeah, it's hard to figure out how people are gonna make money doing it. Yeah, there is a lot of social upheaval and a serious threat to innovation, freedom, business, and whatnot. It's your basic end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario, and as a science fiction writer, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenaria are my stock-in-trade.
All that said, here's the deal: I'm releasing this book under a license developed by the Creative Commons project. This is a project that lets people like me roll our own license agreements for the distribution of our creative work under terms similar to those employed by the Free/Open Source Software movement. It's a great project, and I'm proud to be a part of it.
I sure hope you like my book.
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Compare Down and Out with We Can Build You, not only because both deal with animatronic presidents, but also because both provoke questions about what makes feelings “real,” about manipulation and coercion of assent, about what makes a life meaningful. You will see, I think, that Dick’s brooding brilliance does not overshadow Doctorow’s truer gift for narrative and composition; where Dick got there first, Doctorow makes more of the elements, more satisfactorily.
Paperback ISBN: 076530953X