Friday, October 16, 2009

Rollo Will Do You for Free

For a limited time, Rollo's first comic adventure, My Inflatable Friend, will be available as a free ebook download in EPUB, Sony Reader, and plain-text formats on SmashWords. List-price ebooks are still available for platforms Kindle, Ingram PDF (DRM), and Mobipocket.

If you then yearn to read the sequel, Rubber Babes, you'll have to shell out $1.99, also at SmashWords.

Like so many players in the 21st century publishing biz, I've been puzzling over what business models will emerge for ebooks. And while we're at it, we should figure out how people are going to pay (if modestly) for all kinds of creative content, including music and movies.

I was really flummoxed by the article in the NY Times the other day about libraries doing online lending of ebooks. Almost certainly, the public should not have to pay to check a digital edition out of the local library database. But you'd think the library should either pay a somewhat higher "master-copy" fee or account for the rentals and pay a modest per-rental fee. That's pretty much what happens in the DVD rental market. Libraries loan DVDs, too, but not yet online, although that day is coming. Buying physical copies of CDs or DVDs simplifies per-use lending. But why on Earth would ebook readers have to "wait in line" for digital downloads? Yes, I understand why the publishers are pushing that, but it's a ridiculous imposition on the consumer.

At this point, I believe that "free" is an essential part of any electronic publishing business model--at least for products that have not yet achieved the status of name brands and household words.

That's frankly why Rollo is dropping his shorts and baring all--for nothing. In Hollywood, they call it "exposure work" for obvious reasons.

Dan Brown doesn't have to give it away, ever. The rest of us will have to learn how to do "garage-band marketing" and sell out of our virtual trunks. Until we don't have to.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

West Hollywood Book Fair Photo

Last Sunday (October 4) in West Hollywood Park.

Here's some of the gang doing the meet-and-greet with aspiring and working writers at the IWOSC booth.

(L to R) Linda Lichtman, showrunner Lyn Corum, Sally Hawkridge, and The Boychik.

Photo by Joshua Barash

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Review: 'Dark Mission'

Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA (Enlarged and Revised Edition) by Richard C. Hoagland and Mike Bara has to be the most astounding book I have ever read. If only a fraction of it proves true, it will still be a stunning revelation.

For example--
  • If there is just one artifact on the Moon or on Mars, that's significant. The authors present evidence, although not totally convincing, that there are thousands of "anomalous" and "unnatural" features on both bodies.
  • If NASA has deliberately degraded just one photo, that is extremely troublesome.
  • If there is anything to the theory of hyperdimensional astronomy and its application to celestial navigation, human technology will take another giant leap.
I do have some objections, some of them significant, to the authors' presentation:
  • They often make too much of too little, then use the conclusion as a foundation for an entire line of argument. For example, what if in that "meaningful" photo of Gene Cernan listening to Bush, his smirk is from a bad case of intestinal gas? We've all been there. Also, as to the the "Data head" on the Moon, it certainly looks like a curious artifact, but it could just as easily be a fragment of a religious icon as a piece of a robot. To then speculate that it contained a computer from which data was downloaded is a ridiculous stretch. Those are just two examples of many unsupported leaps to conclusions in the book. (I'm not belittling the importance of finding the object--just the authors' interpretation of it.)
  • Cause and effect seem jumbled in some arguments. The ultimate significance of 19.5 and 33 degrees could be more practical than mystical, as an extension of Hoagland's own arguments. If hyperdimensional geometry can truly govern advanced celestial navigation, the selection of those parameters may be crucial to mission success for practical, physical reasons, not because of some religious correlation. In other words, sacred geometry is more likely to be derived from, and an effect of, the way the universe is built. Selection of specific dates for landings may also have some consistent, practical, rationale other than ceremony or astrology.
  • I don't see many of the objects the authors do in the satellite photos. Quipping that some people have a perceptual handicap that prevents them from seeing such features insults my intelligence. And the reproductions are terrible.
  • Please hire a good copy editor next time. As with so many self-published and small-press books, a profusion of typos and inconsistently applied style rules conveys the dismal impression that no one besides the author thought this book was worth publishing.
All that said, even if portions of this book are unreliable or just plain wrong, its contribution may ultimately prove to be momentous. Seventeenth-century astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote volumes on planetary orbits, which he believed to be mounted on crystalline spheres that hummed a celestial chorus to the glory of God. It took the genius of Sir Isaac Newton to extract from all that superstition just three concise laws of planetary motion, which he translated into mathematical equations. Were it not for our understanding those three laws, modern celestial navigation would be a hopeless dream. (Also, Newton himself harbored all kinds of bizarre notions and spent literally years of his life writing about them.)

Hoagland says Heaviside did the same to Maxwell but missed some essential stuff, to the lasting detriment of science. Maybe he's right.

So I don't mean to scoff just because I'd like more rigor in the arguments. I suspect some of this is true. I just can't tell you which parts.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm Reading 'Bonfire of the Vanderbilts' at WEHO Book Fair

This Sunday, Oct. 4, West Hollywood Book Fair, West Hollywood Park (just west of the Pacific Design Center), at 4 PM on the stage called The Lounge.

Bonfire of the Vanderbilts is a new novel about a Gilded Age art scandal and a murderous love affair, set in Paris and Newport in the early 1890s and in Brentwood in the present day.

I'll also be in the IWOSC booth 2 - 4PM.

Parking free, show free, air still free while it lasts!
(Bring a big straw hat, a bottle of water, an empty backpack, and some mad money).

Click here for details.