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Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom read-aloud part 06

As I mentioned in my March Locus column, I'm celebrating the tenth anniversary of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by m planning a prequel. volume As part of that, planning'I going to read aloud the entire text of that first book into the podcast, making notes on the book as I go. Here's part six.

Mastering by John Taylor Williams: wryneckstudio@gmail.com

John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes "Beer Jewelry" and "Odd Musical Furniture." He often "meditates while reading cookbooks."

MP3 link

Tim Wu and I talk networks, policy and the future

Slate's "Stranger Than Fiction" podcast has just aired its second episode: a discussion between Tim Wu (a cyberlawyer, Internet scholar and good egg) and me (MP3)! Future installments will include talks with Kim Stanley Robinson and Margaret Atwood (as well as others) -- the inaugural episode featured Tim in discussion with Neal Stephenson.

Easy win for publishing: network and systematize PR and marketing

My latest Locus column, "Improving Book Publicity in the 21st Century," addresses the lack of automation and management in traditional publishing an publicity, and suggests some simple and cheap ways that publishers could join up the way its editorial, marketing a PR departments communicate with reviewers and other publicity outlets to save money and score more PR for their writers.

Right now, this stuff all lives in separate word-processing files and spreadsheets in different departments’ hands, which results in all sorts of bizarre occurrences that I see firsthand.

There’s the trilogy whose first volume I blurbed, and whose first two volumes I glowingly reviewed – and I sold a ton of each. The publisher didn’t send me book three for review, even though it had a quote of mine on the front cover, the back cover, and the jacket-flap. They didn’t even tell me it was out – by the time I saw it in a store, it had been out for a month, and my review showed up weeks after the book’s publicity push was over.

I know how that happened: the cover quotes came from editorial and were sent to marketing, which had them in a word-processing document. When PR brainstormed people to send review copies to, they forgot to include me, so it fell through the cracks.

There’s the graphic novel series, now in up to something like 17 volumes. I’ve given every book a positive review, and all the new volumes have quotes from me on the cover. I never get review copies of this one – I don’t even get a notice from the PR department when a new volume is out. But the same PR department has sent me something like nine volumes of another series, none of which I’ve ever reviewed. If I don’t review book one, that means I either didn’t like it, or didn’t even bother with it because it looked so unpromising. Having skipped book one, you can be certain I won’t review book two. This same publisher sends me mountains of single-issue comics, even though I’ve never reviewed one of those.

Improving Book Publicity in the 21st Century

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom read-aloud part 05

As I mentioned in my March Locus column, I'm celebrating the tenth anniversary of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by planning a prequel volume. As part of that planning, I'm going to read aloud the entire text of that first book into the podcast, making notes on the book as I go. Here's part five.

Mastering by John Taylor Williams: wryneckstudio@gmail.com

John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes "Beer Jewelry" and "Odd Musical Furniture." He often "meditates while reading cookbooks."

MP3 link

When trademark becomes a tool for stealing our language

My latest Guardian column is "Trademarks: the good, the bad and the ugly," and it looks at why trademark, at its best, does something vital -- but how trademark can be abused to steal common words from our language and turn them into a twisted kind of pseudo-property.


Trademark lawyers have convinced their clients that they must pay to send a threatening notice to everyone who uses a trademark without permission, even where there is no chance of confusion. They send letters by the lorryload to journalists, website operators, signmakers, schools, dictionary publishers – anyone who might use their marks in a way that weakens the association in the public mind. But weakening an association is not illegal, despite the expansion of doctrines such as "dilution" and "naked licensing."

When called out on policing our language, trademark holders and their lawyers usually shrug their shoulders and say, "Nothing to do with us.

The law requires us to threaten you, or we lose our association, and thus our mark." This is a very perverse way of understanding trademark.

The law is there to protect the public interest, and the public interest isn't undermined by the strength or weakness of an association with a specific word or mark with a specific company. The public interest extends to preventing fraud, and trademark uses the motivation of protecting profits to incentivise firms to uphold the public interest.

Trademarks: the good, the bad and the ugly

Pirate Cinema up for Canada’s Aurora Award

The 2013 Prix Aurora Award ballot has been announced, and I'm delighted to see that my novel Pirate Cinema is up for the prize in the Young Adult category. The Auroras are a people's choice award given for Canadian science fiction and fantasy, and I'm delighted to be recognised in the land of my birth! The whole ballot is a great signpost to some wonderful Canadian literature, and the young adult section is particularly strong:

Best YA Novel – English
Above by Leah Bobet, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
The Calling by Kelley Armstrong, Harper Teen
Dissolve by Neil Godbout, Bundoran Press
Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero by Michell Plested, Five Rivers
Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, TOR Teen
Under My Skin: Wildlings Series (Book 1) by Charles de Lint, Razorbill Canada

2013 Aurora Ballot Announced

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom read-aloud part 03

[NB: Some indeterminate screwup, which was nevertheless definitely caused by me being a stoop, caused this episode not to make it into my feed. I are a dum.]

As I mentioned in my March Locus column, I'm celebrating the tenth anniversary of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by planning a prequel volume. As part of that planning, I'm going to read aloud the entire text of that first book into the podcast, making notes on the book as I go. Here's part three.

Mastering by John Taylor Williams: wryneckstudio@gmail.com

John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes "Beer Jewelry" and "Odd Musical Furniture." He often "meditates while reading cookbooks."

MP3 link

Publishing should fight ebook retailers for more data

I've got a guest column in the new edition of The Bookseller, the trade magazine for the UK publishing industry. It's called "Tangible Assets," and it points out that of all the fights that publishing has had with the ebook sector -- DRM, pricing, promotion -- the one they've missed is access to data. Whatever else is going on with publishers and Amazon, Google, Apple, et al, the fact that publishing knows almost nothing about its ebook customers and has no realtime view into its ebook sales; and that the ebook channel knows almost everything, instantaneously, is untenable and unsustainable.

I just came off a US tour for my YA novel Homeland, which Tor Teen published in the US in February, and which Titan will publish this coming September in the UK. I went to 23 cities in 25 days, a kind of bleary and awesome whirlwind where I got to see friends from across the USA—Internet People to a one—for about 8.5 minutes each, in a caffeinated, exhausted rush.

Inevitably, I had this conversation: "How's the book doing?" and I got to say: "Oh, awesome! It's a New York Times and Indienet bestseller!" (It stayed on the NYT list for four weeks, so I got to say this a lot). And then, always: "So, how many copies does that
come out to?" And my answer was always, "No one knows."

This is where the Internet People began to boggle. "No one knows?"

"Oh, there's some Nielsen reporting from the tills of participating booksellers—you can get that if you spend a fortune. But there's no realtime e-book numbers given to the publishers. We'll all find out exactly how the book performed in a couple of months."

And that's where they lost their minds. The irate squawks that emerged from their throats were audible for miles. "You mean Amazon, Apple and Google knows exactly who comes to their stores, how they find their way to your books, where they're coming in from, how many devices they use and when, and they don't tell the publishers?"


Tangible assets

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom read-aloud part 04

As I mentioned in my March Locus column, I'm celebrating the tenth anniversary of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by planning a prequel volume. As part of that planning, I'm going to read aloud the entire text of that first book into the podcast, making notes on the book as I go. Here's part four.

Mastering by John Taylor Williams: wryneckstudio@gmail.com

John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes "Beer Jewelry" and "Odd Musical Furniture." He often "meditates while reading cookbooks."

MP3 link

Fox sends fraudulent takedown notices for my novel Homeland

My Creative Commons licensed, 2013 novel Homeland, the sequel to my 2008 novel Little Brother, spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and got great reviews around the country. But Fox apparently hasn't heard of it -- or doesn't care. They've been sending takedown notices to Google (and possibly other sites), demanding that links to legally shared copies of the book be removed.

These notices, sent under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, require that the person who signs them swears, on pain of perjury, that they have a good faith basis to assert that they represent the rightsholder to the work in question. So Fox has been swearing solemn, legally binding oaths to the effect that it is the rightsholder to a file called, for example, "Cory Doctorow Homeland novel."

It's clear that Fox is mistaking these files for episodes of the TV show "Homeland." What's not clear is why or how anyone sending a censorship request could be so sloppy, careless and indifferent to the rights of others that they could get it so utterly wrong. I have made inquiries about the possible legal avenues for addressing this with Fox, but I'm not optimistic. The DMCA makes it easy to carelessly censor the Internet, and makes it hard to get redress for this kind of perjurious, depraved indifference.



Fox Censors Cory Doctorow’s “Homeland” Novel From Google

Creative Commons License

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