PDA Fiction

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Weapons of Mass Deception

Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq
by Sheldon Rampton, John Stauber

On sale at PDM : $9.68 Newsletter Price (PEABODY through 4/6/04)

The Age of Sacred Terror
by Daniel Benjamin, Steven Simon

Publsiher's Synopsis: Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon began working on this book shortly after leaving the National Security Council, where, as director and senior director for counterterrorism, they watched the rise of al-Qaeda and helped coordinate America's fight against Usama bin Laden and his organization. They warned in articles and interviews about the appearance of a new breed of terrorists who were determined to kill on the grand scale. More than a year before September 11, 2001, they began writing The Age of Sacred Terror to sound the alarm for a nation that had not recognized the gravest threat of our time.

On sale at PDM for $8.06 after Newsletter Discount (PEABODY thru 4/6/04)
At Fictionwise for $8.95 (Buywise Club = $7.61) after 10% Micropay rebate

Palm Digital Media: The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us about Iraq

The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us about Iraq
by Christopher Scheer, Robert Scheer, Lakshmi Chaudhry

PDM Newsletter Price: $5.09 (PEABODY thru 4/6/04)

Publsiher's Synopsis: The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us about Iraq is the comprehensive source on the administration's campaign of disinformation before, during, and after the second Gulf War. From the careful linking of Saddam Hussein with Al Qaeda, to the WMD canard, to the September 2003 damage-control sideshow, AlterNet.org's Christopher Scheer and Lakshmi Chaudhry team up with renowned journalist Robert Scheer to take the full measure of official deception.

They not only lied, the authors conclude; the pattern of obfuscation, misstatement, and half-retraction amounted to a devious entrapment of the American people. The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us about Iraq offers the first analysis of this pattern, underscoring that the lying was highly managed. The public did not commit troops, and dollars, to the invasion acting on the best information its government could provide. Instead, we fell victim to a marketing campaign conducted by a small group of influential radicals inside the Bush administration, who were pursuing their own narrow, hubristic agenda.

They Lie, Others Die

Dick Cheney, last March, on Meet The Press:

"VICE PRES. CHENEY: ... Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators...

"MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators....The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that."

Today this and this.

Air America Radio

If you've been waiting for it, Air America - the liberal radio network - is scheduled to start today. According to their web site, they do straeming audio.

If you're looking for All Franken as an alternative to Rush Limbaugh, check here

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Palm Digital Media: Firestorm

Iris Johansen's Firestorm is out at Palm Digital Media with a hefty 60% discount: $9.95

Discount codes don't apply.

However -- if you want to use the Newsletter Discount for something else:

Punch in this week's Promo Code PEABODY to receive a 10% discount off each book that you purchase. Offer good through April 6, 2004 on all books priced more than $3.00. Cannot be used in conjunction with other special offers.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Fictionwise eBooks: House of Bush, House of Saud

House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties by Craig Unger is finally available at Fictionwise, where it carries a 20% rebate

After rebate price: $11.99 or for Buywise Club members, $10.19

Someday I'll figure out how the Rapid Rebates work -- they may make it even cheaper.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

What's So Funny?

OK - everyone knows that feminists have no sense of humor, so it comes as no suprise that I didn't think Bush's "Ha Ha slide show, let's look under the couch, 'Those Weapons of Mass Destruction Gotta Be Somewhere' gag" was nearly as funny as the Washington Press Corp did.

But then, unlike Bill Frist, I thought Richard Clarke's apology was moving, rather than supremely arrogant. I'll never be a Washington Insider :-(

Anyway - there's plenty on Josh Marshall's blog, and Atrios, and Kevin Drum's Political Animal about Richard Clarke. But take a minute to ponder "Those Weapons Of Mass Destruction Gotta Be Somewhere."

Then consider Brit Hume's advice: Get Over It

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Palm Digital Media: Against All Enemies

PDM now has Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies on sale:
$14.99 or $13.49 with the newsletter discount (Promo code TRUMP)

It's cheaper at Fictionwise - where there is 40% Micropay rebate:

Final Fictionwise price after the rebate : $8.99 or BuyWise Club member price $7.64

Palm Digital Media: The Cat Who...: Three Complete Novels

Another bundle offer from PDA -- for fans of Lilian Jackson Braun's Cat Who... series.

This one includes The Cat Wo Tailed A Thief, The Cat Who Sang for the Birds, The Cat Who Saw Stars, numbers 19,20, and 21 in what is, up to now, a 25 books series.

You can get the 3 novels together for $14.98 here

Each is available separately for $5.98, with the newsletter discount.

Palm Digital Media: The Complete Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter

It's way over my budget, but if you are a fan of the Anita Blak, Vampire Hunter books, PDM has a weekend special: the complete series of 11 novels is on sale for $69.95, which they say is 25% off the combined, individual prices.

The individual books, of course, are eligible for the Newsletter discount (the bundle is not) - so that combined, discount price is only $75.40 (making the bundle savings somewhat less impressive.)

It's the cost of the latest book that drives the price so high. If you're new to Anita Blake, you can always start reading at the beginning, one novel at a time. By the time you get to the 11th installment, the price on that one should have fallen from $19.00 to $7.00 as well.

This bundle price is good for this weekend only.


Friday, March 26, 2004

Fictionwise eBooks: Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror by Richard A. Clarke

Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies is finally available on Fictionwise. There is a hefty Micropay Rebate of 40%:

Regular Price: $14.99
Micropay Rebate: 40%
Cost After Rebate: $8.99
You Save: 40.03% 49.03%
Buywise Club Price:$12.74
Micropay Rebate: 40%
Cost After Rebate: $7.64
You Save: 49.03%

Dell Axim X3i On Sale

The Dell Axim X3i is on sale at Dell's site for 10% off:

"Featured at $349
$315 After 10% OFF!"

Specs: Intel® 400MHz, 64MB Intel® StrataFlash®, 64MB SDRAM,Wi-Fi

I'm not much of a PocketPC fan (though I do own the original Axim X5) - but that's not a half bad price for integrated WiFi. Especially since it actually seems to be a direct mark down, and not one of Dell's piggy rebates.

PocketPCs, in my admittedly biased experience, make excellent ebook readers, even if they are wretched PDAs.

Audible.com - 9-11 Hearings

From Audible.com:

"The 9/11 Commission Hearings are available right now for free at http://www.audible.com/911hearings...

Download the Hearings now from our Web site, and feel free to share this e-mail with your friends. Let them know they can download the audio for free as well."

The list of testimony available is:

9-11 Commission Hearings: Colin L. Powell (3/23/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: Donald Rumsfeld (3/23/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: George J. Tenet (3/24/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: Madeleine K. Albright (3/23/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: Richard A. Clarke (3/24/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: Samuel R. Berger (3/24/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: Staff Statement, Diplomacy (3/23/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: Staff Statement, The Military (3/23/04)
9-11 Commission Hearings: William Cohen (3/23/04)

Audible content can be played on most PocketPC's with the free Audible Player or on OS 5 Palms or on desktop PCs (Windows Media Player plug-in) or on iPods

Free Culture

Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture has been published. If you want to read it, you can buy it (of course), or you can download a free copy from various sites on the web. The book has been released under the Creative Commons license (free to redistribute, copy, or otherwise re-use for non-commercial purposes)

Lessig's blurb:

"...in FREE CULTURE, widens his focus to consider the diminishment of the larger public domain of ideas. In this powerful wake-up call he shows how short-sighted interests blind to the long-term damage they’re inflicting are poisoning the ecosystem that fosters innovation.

"All creative works—books, movies, records, software, and so on—are a compromise between what can be imagined and what is possible—technologically and legally. For more than two hundred years, laws in America have sought a balance between rewarding creativity and allowing the borrowing from which new creativity springs. The original term of copyright set by the Constitution in 1787 was seventeen years. Now it is closer to two hundred. Thomas Jefferson considered protecting the public against overly long monopolies on creative works an essential government role. What did he know that we’ve forgotten?

"Lawrence Lessig shows us that while new technologies always lead to new laws, never before have the big cultural monopolists used the fear created by new technologies, specifically the Internet, to shrink the public domain of ideas, even as the same corporations use the same technologies to control more and more what we can and can’t do with culture. As more and more culture becomes digitized, more and more becomes controllable, even as laws are being toughened at the behest of the big media groups."

If you care about the Public Domain (and you should!), grab a copy:

From Lessig's own site in Adobe format

Or from Black Mask, where it is available in MS Reader, Rocket Book, HTML, iSilo, & MobiReader formats

When I get a chance, I'll put a copy up on PDAFiction in Palm reader format.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Cerience updated RepliGo for the Palm to v2.0 a month or so ago. Today, they updated their Windows Mobile (PocketPC) & Smartphone versions to 2.0 as well.

The software to create RepliGo documents costs $30.00 -- but the viewers are free. If you use RepliGo on your PDA, this is a worthwhile upgrade.

There are lots of enhancements in the 2.0 viewers - so even if you just download RepliGo docs created by someone else, it is worth downloading and installing the new document viewers.

What's New for 2.0

• Text Searches: Find specific words or phrases anywhere in the current document.

• Bookmarks: Add your own bookmarks and convert existing bookmarks from PDF, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

• Comments: Insert text comments for the current page of the document.

• Select Text tool: Drag the stylus across text to copy it to the clipboard and paste into another application.

• Highlighter tool: Select from 8 different colors and use the stylus to highlight text for special reference or attention.

• 24-bit images: View images with much greater quality and clarity.

• Live Hyperlinks: Tap on a hyperlink and jump to the URL using your device’s default web browser.

• Enhanced Internet Explorer integration: View a preview and control conversion settings before processing.

• Save directly to memory card: Save the document to the memory card during conversion.

Cost of War

To explain itself, this web site says:

"War affects everyone, not just those directly involved in the fighting. This webpage is a simple attempt to demonstrate one of the more quantifiable effects of war: the financial burden it places on our tax dollars.

"To the right you will find a running total of the amount of money spent by the US Government to finance the war in Iraq. This total is based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. Below the total are a number of different ways that we could have chosen to use the money. Try clicking on them; you might be surprised to learn what a difference we could have made."

Palm Digital Media: American Dynasty

More anti-Bush, even if it is too damned expensive

PDM has Kevin Phillips' American Dynasty for $18.68 with the Newsletter discount (Promo code TRUMP)

I can't find it at Fictionwise, either.

Palm Digital Media: House of Bush, House of Saud

Continuing my anti-Bush ebook campaign - let me point to this one: House of Bush, House of Saud at Palm Digital Media. For some reason, it isn't listed at Fictionwise.

PDM has it for $13.49 with the newsletter discount (Promo code TRUMP)

Salon ran excepts last week - you can always read them for free.

Another Bit on Gay Marriage from Atrios

I just love reading this stuff from Atrios. Today he helpfully supplies the contact info for Senator Cornyn, who worries that his (heterosexual) marriage will be damaged by the legalization of gay marriage.

Said Atrios yesterday:

"...For example, here's Cornyn:

In an opening statement, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), presiding over the hearing as chairman of the subcommittee on constitutional law and a fervent supporter of banning gay marriage, dismissed as a "myth" the notion that "my marriage doesn't affect your marriage."

"Redefining marriage in a way that reduces it to a financial and legal relationship will only accelerate the deterioration of family life," Cornyn said.

What a weird-ass thing to say. Is Cornyn having marital problems? Is the thought that maybe, just maybe, he could go out and marry Mark Foley causing his family life to deteriorate? Is the thought of living la vida fabulosa so overwhelmingly tempting that unless this amendment passes right now he's going to leave his wife for some hot man-on-man action? If his family life is deteriorating, shouldn't he be home trying to patch things up instead of at the office trying to find new and exciting ways to enshrine bigotry in the constitution?

I especially enjoy the last line: "If his family life is deteriorating, shouldn't he be home trying to patch things up instead of at the office trying to find new and exciting ways to enshrine bigotry in the constitution?"

Now we can all contact poor Senator Cornyn with helpful hints on building a successful long-term relationship.

Thanks, Atrios!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

This Week's PDM Discount Code

If you are shopping at Palm Digital Media:

"Promo Code

Punch in this week's Promo Code TRUMP to receive a 10% discount off each book that you purchase. Offer good through March 30, 2004 on all books priced more than $3.00. Cannot be used in conjunction with other special offers."

And if you are tempted by PDM's special on Donald Trump's book (yikes! read something else!) - take a look at Fictionwise. They are offering a 100% Micropay rebate on it (it's still overpriced at free)

Monday, March 22, 2004

Jesus' General

I've never seen this blog before - check it out - it's hilarious:

"Jesus' General
A 10 on the Manly Scale of Absolute Gender

Friday, March 19, 2004

My Brilliant Career Now Available

As promised: My Brilliant Career in Palm Reader format is now available on PDAFiction

Blackmask Online : My Brilliant Career

Did you enjoy the 1979 movie, made in Australia, My Brilliant Career, directed by Gillian Armstrong and starring Judy Davis?

I sure did. Blackmask has just put the original novel by Miles Franklin on-line as an ebook. PDAFiction.com will have the PalmReader version later tonight - but if you prefer some other format (MS Reader, RocketBook, iSilo, Adobe, MobiReader), check out the Blackmask page.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

LGBT Federal Workers Lose Job Protections

OK - once again - nothing to do with ebooks -- but I'm posting it anyway:

"LGBT Federal Workers Lose Job Protections
by Paul Johnson
365Gay.com Newscenter
Washington Bureau Chief

Gay and lesbians in the entire federal workforce have had their job protections officially removed by the office of Special Counsel. The new Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, says his interpretation of a 1978 law intended to protect employees and job applicants from adverse personnel actions is that gay and lesbian workers are not covered."

Great. Read the rest of this sorry story - found through the invaluable Atrios - here. Don't miss the encouraging last line : "Bloch was appointed by President Bush to a five year term beginning in January."

Mercury News: Tenn. County Wants to Charge Homosexuals

"The county that was the site of the Scopes "Monkey Trial" over the teaching of evolution is asking lawmakers to amend state law so the county can charge homosexuals with crimes against nature.

The Rhea County commissioners approved the request 8-0 Tuesday.

Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who introduced the measure, also asked the county attorney to find a way to enact an ordinance banning homosexuals from living in the county.

"We need to keep them out of here," Fugate said."

Uh huh. OK. Right...

Palm Digital Media: Disarming Iraq

If you missed Fictionwise's pre-order sale on Hans Blix's Disarming Iraq, you can now get it at 58% off suggested retail from Palm Digital Media -- $9.95

The newsletter discount cannot be combined with the sale price.

Stephanie Plum at Fictionwise

If you are a fan of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels - don't miss Fictionwise's 50% Microcash rebate on Three Plums In One: One For the Money, Two For the Dough, Three To Get Deadly

After the rebate it is $4.99 or just $4.24 for Buywise Club members.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Scott Rosenberg's Links & Comment:

OK - it has nothing to do with Ebooks - but it bears repeating;

Scott Rosenberg on the Spanish election:

"I think it's pretty clear that the vote against Aznar was at least as much a final burst of disgust at this disastrous coverup as it was a general repudiation of the Iraq war. Either way, the lesson here is not that the Spanish people have suddenly become toadies of al-Qaida; it's that, if you're trying to lead a democracy in a war against terrorists, your first duty is to tell the truth."

One more time, for the slow readers in the US government: "...if you're trying to lead a democracy in a war against terrorists, your first duty is to tell the truth."

Maybe, to imagine a PDA tie-in, Bush, Rumsfield, Cheney, et al, could create a Floating Appointment in Datebk5 : "Tell the truth"

10 years of best sellers: How the landscape has changed

USAToday's decade of best sellers list makes interesting reading. Summing up trends, it says:

"E-books, which are read on computer screens, failed to attract much attention.

"But never have so many printed books been published: more than 1,000 new titles a week, nearly double the volume in 1993. And never have they been so easy to buy, accessible over the Internet and in nationwide chain superstores. Still, book sales are flat."

Which books, and what kinds of books, are the decade's best sellers? Think "Rowling." Then read then entire story here

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Handmark Software Two For One Sale

From Handmark Buy 1 - Get 1 Free

Pick any two of the PalmOS titles below then enter the promo code "buy 1 get 1" and handmark will discount your order by the cost of the lower priced product. Expires 3/17/04

Super Solitaire 15
15 of the most popular solitaire games for your Palm OS device - all in one package $19.99

Access and manage hundreds of data lists on your Palm, Handspring or Sony PDA. $19.99

3D Air Hockey
The excitement of a fast-paced game of 3D Air Hockey on your Palm OS device. $14.99

Easy-to-use financial management tracks spending, credit card balances, and bank account activity. $29.99

Midway Arcade Classics
Take the fun of Spy Hunter, Joust Defender II, Sinistar and Root Beer Tapper anywhere you go. $19.99

The leading word processor for your Palm OS device now includes a spell checker and Thesaurus. $29.99

PocketChess Deluxe
PocketChess Deluxe has everything to challenge and entertain new and returning players. $19.99

The leading student coursework management software for your Palm, Sony or Handspring PDA. $19.99

Lode Runner
Fans of the original, as well as those new to the game, are sure to love our authentic remake for the Palm OS Platform. $19.99

Take control of your device to view, edit, delete, move, copy or beam files located in RAM, SD/MMC or Memory Stick expansion memory. $19.99

In the future, brave knights will climb onto their birds of prey and compete for the ultimate goal - their lives. $14.99

Keep your travel plan details in one convenient place and easily share them with other Palm, Sony Clie or Handspring users. $19.99

Crossword 365
Puzzle over the challenging clues of a crossword anywhere with Crossword365 for Palm OS. $19.99

Never use that to-do list? Replace it with Checklist and you'll have easy access to ALL your important check lists. $19.99

Attempt to beat your stealthy computer opponent in this authentic backgammon game. $9.99

Track shots, puts, hit percentages and multiple wagering games while on the course. $19.99

Match sets of at least 3 colors or symbols to clear out rows and quickly earn points. $9.99

Root Beer Tapper
The drink orders come faster and faster so you'll need quick reflexes to keep all the customers happy. $14.99

One of the oldest board games in history, has been enjoyed for many centuries. Now available on your Palm OS device. $9.99

Defender II
Fly your spaceship at dizzying speeds and use lasers and special weapons to defend the planet and save the astronauts. $14.99

X-Treme Latin: Unleash Your Inner Gladiator

Xenaverse bards, rejoice! You can now find handy Latin phrases to give your latest opus just the right Ceasar, Julius Caesar flair.

Check out this brief review of X-Treme Latin: Unleash Your Inner Gladiator and learn to say such useful things as:

Heia, amice, utrum illae sunt sarcinae tuae, an modo Carthaginem despoliasti? (“Hey, pal, is that carry-on luggage or did you just sack Carthage?”)

Malim praedari (“I'd rather be pillaging”)

And, since the Xenaverse is an on-line sort of 'verse ...

Assume plicam damnatam, o tu moles muscaria muscerdarum (“Download the goddam file, you bug-ridden piece of shit”)

Friday, March 12, 2004

Bush's War on Women

This is from Atrios this moring:

"The war on women

I read about Melissa Ann Rowland in the Dallas paper this morning By now, most of you probably have read or heard that she has been charged with murder for refusing to have a C-section which doctors had told her was the only way to ensure that both of the twins she was pregnant with would survive. One was stillborn. If convicted, Ms. Rowland could be sentenced to five years to life in prison. She is being held at the Salt Lake City jail."

Go read the entire story

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Free Security Updates and Patches on CDs from Microsoft

(1) Critical Updates for Internet Explorer

This CD includes Microsoft critical updates released through October 2003 and information to help you protect your PC. In addition, you will also receive free antivirus and firewall trial software: http://www.microsoft.com/security/protect/cd/order.asp

(2) Service Packs for Microsoft Office

Microsoft has a similar deal for MS Office: A free (in North
America) CD containing a roll-up of all the Service Packs for Office
2000 and Office XP.

To order the Office Update CD, go to
http://office.microsoft.com/officeupdate/ and look for the "More about
updates" section; click "Order Office service packs on CD-ROM" to get to
the appropriate page.

Both these CDs collect patches and updates that are individually available for download on the Microsoft web site. But sometimes it is just more convenient to have them all in one place. And, if you don't have a fast internet connection, it is certainly more efficient. There are no shipping or handling charges. The CDs are really and truly free -- at least in the USA.

Wikipedia:TomeRaider Version

The free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is available as a Tome Reader database. Although Tome Reader itself isn't free, the Wikipedia is. On the PocketPC, this is a very impressive encyclopedia. It's not quite so cool on the Palm, unfortunately. The lastest version (updated Dec, 2003) is almost 200 MB - so be sure you have a big storage card. And a broadband internet connection.

But, if you need to carry an encylcopedia with you, this is still a great bargain.

Get download instructions here. Download the database here

Save on Simon & Schuster E Books

You can save on Simon & Schuster's ebooks in 2 ways:

1) Buy $15 or more and get an extra 20% OFF! Just enter BONUS1520 into the promotional code field at checkout.

2) Through March 15, save an additional 10% off purchased titles with coupon code VCAndrews10.

You cannot combine the offers

Laurie R King's The Game

If you didn't get to PDM yesterday before the discount code expired -- you've still got time to pick up a copy of The Game at the reduced, sale price.

The sale continues with this week's Promo Code of OVALTINE

When you purchase a book, just punch in this week's Promo Code OVALTINE to receive a 10% discount off each book - not just The Game but all books priced more than $3.00. Offer good through March 16, 2004. Cannot be used in conjunction with other special offers.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The Game by Laurie R King

If you're a fan of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell novels, take a look at Palm Digital Media's special offer on The Game, which was just released in hard cover this week. The e-book is available from PDM at a substantial discount : $9.95 or $8.96 with the newsletter discount.

This week's Promo Code -- good until March 9 -- is PANDORA

Free From Fictionwise This Week

Free through Sunday, Mar. 14!

The American by Henry James
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address by Abraham Lincoln

Monday, March 08, 2004

Ebooks and On-Line Fiction

The explosion of "Print On Demand" published books that was fueled by the Xena FanFiction writers may be slowed by the new fees growing out of the On Demand Machine Corporation Patent Infringement decision. These books are already rather pricey. And, at least to my eyes, sometimes poorly edited or bound. Whether they can bear another 5% or 10% price increase remains to be seen.

I don't doubt the allure of a "real" book. I'm sure there is nothing that can thrill an author more than holding a printed copy of her work. But I think that by concentrating purely on print-on-demand, the on-line writers have missed an opportunity -- one that would seem tailor-made for writers who got their start, and still find their biggest following, on-line: e-books.

The latest OverDrive/Content Reserve debacle makes several things clear:

1) There is certainly a market and an audience for independently published e-books (look at the sales figures some publishers have supplied for the sales through Fictionwise).
2) The economy of electronic publishing through a group like Lightning Source or EBookAd may make it possible to produce ebooks at a more reasonable cost.
3) The distribution of ebooks can be much more decentralized, allowing authors to sell directly through their web sites as well as through ebook retailers.
4) Therer are many ways to distribute and protect ebooks without using the excessive copy-protection DRM schemes promoted by OverDrive. Treating your customers like thieves may be the philosophy of big corporations, but plenty of independent presses have thrived with less restrictive schemes.
5) Overseas readers (overseas from the USA, that is) would especially benefit from being able to avoid shipping costs that sometimes exceed the cost of the book.

Can this work?

I don't know what sort of distribution rights are negotiated by POD publishers. Maybe they are draconian. Maybe not. But I believe that inexpensive, electronic ebook versions are worth investigating.

(Note: I am not talking about web versions. I am talking about ebook versions of the published novels -- including rewites, extra chapters, editing, etc.) Does anyone else think this would be a valuable additon to the writers' catalogues?

TeleRead's OverDrive's gouge of publishers: A link-based overview

As usual, Teleread has been the best source on OverDrive's latest move to squeeze independent ebook publishers. This article provides essential links to all the info David Rothman has collected so far, including responses from many small presses.

The oustanding points so far:

1) The new OverDrive quarterly schedule for hosting books on its servers is: 1-10 books, $75; 11-25, $125; 26-50, $250; 51-100, $375; 101 to 250, $625; 251-500, $1,125; 501-1,000, $1,875; and 1,001-2,500, $3,375. Notice? A single-title publisher or self-published author would pay at least $300 annually for dealing with just one distributor on the sole title, never mind other costs.

2) Storage fees for selling books is an entirely new - and ridiculous! - concept. Try to imagine Ingram charging the publisher of every book they distribute a "storage fee" to cover warehousing books until they are sold. All these costs are already built in to the middleman's take. Booksellers normally keep just 40% to 50% of the cover price - the rest goes to the distributor, who then pays the publisher, who then pays the author, etc. And real books take up real space in real buildings! Each ebooks exists only once on the server, no matter how many copies are eventually sold. Content Reserve wants to charge small publishers $300.00 a year for storing maybe 200 KB of bits and bytes.

3) These proposed Content Reserve storage fees are on top of the 55% discount Content Reserve already collects on every sale. That is -- say you sell an ebook (hosted on Content Reserve and sold through an online bookstore) for $10.00. Of that $10.00 -- $4.50 goes to the publisher to cover production costs, author's royalties, overhead. etc. $5.50 goes to OverDrive/Content Reserve, theortetically to be split 15% ($1.50) to Content Reserve and $4.00 to the retailer who actually sold the book.

4) OverDrive/Content Reserve is far behind in payments to publishers. Many small publishers have come forward with reports that OverDrive/Content Reserve is a year or more in arrears.

What does all this mean for e-publishing? David Rothman is trying to get some accurate financial figures from OverDrive -- until that happens, there is no sure way of knowing if OverDrive is in peril of financial collapse or just ludicrously greedy. But it certainly seems that small presses will want to avoid OverDrive like the plague.

Mercury News | 03/01/2004 | What copy rights?:

From an editorial in the San Jose Mercury News:

"Three times in the past three years, federal courts have banned the distribution of technologies that let consumers make copies of the digital works that they own. In the latest case, a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco ordered a Missouri company to stop producing software that evades anti-piracy protections on DVDs.

"...a bigger question: What can consumers do when copyright holders deny them basic rights, like making personal copies, that they have had in the non-digital world with videotapes, records and books? Apparently not much."

Read the entire editorial here.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Fictionwise 100 Best Selling Ebooks of All Time

"Fictionwise.com has served over 100 billion words! Since we launched in June 2000 we've had fun posting the number of 'words served' to our members on our front page, and we just crossed the 100 billion mark. To celebrate, we put our 100 all-time best selling eBooks on sale through March 7th. "

They appear to be mainly science fiction -- if you are a sci-fi fan, this sale is certainly worth a look.

Disarming Iraq by Hans Blix

Fictionwise is offering a 40% Micropay rebate if you pre-order Hans Blix's new book: $10.77 after Micropay rebate or $9.16 for BuyClub members.

No doubt, you've recently heard George Bush claim, without correction from a supine press, that the US had to invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein wouldn't let the UN inspectors in.

Now you can read Hans Blix's account of what he presumably hallucinated that he found - since, of course, he was never there....

Disarming Iraq should be available around March 9

Friday, March 05, 2004

MassEquality.org || No Discrimination in the Constitution

Here's a good synopsis for the legal situation in Massachusetts, from Josh Marshall:

"In Massachusetts, to amend the constitution the amendment needs to be approved in two consecutive joint legislative sessions and then voted on in a statewide referendum.

"The state legislature will try to act on this for the first time on March 11th, i.e., next Thursday. Given what I just described above, the soonest the court ruling could be overturned is in 2006.

"But if supporters of gay marriage can defeat that amendment in this session, they'll gain another two years before gay marriage can be banned in the state and likely go a long way to making it permanent."

MassEquality is trying to keep this session of the Mass. Legislature from passing an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. If you want to help, contribute, or get involve - check out MassEquality's site

Bill Maher On Gay Marriage

Bill Maher has a possible solution - through compromise - for the gay marriage imbrogglio:

"America has a rich history of solving hard moral problems with ridiculous compromises...With both sides so set -- one being all for gay marriage, and the other completely against it -- how about we just let the lesbians marry?...Isn't it time both sides compromised a little on this issue?"

OK - the piece is 98% obnoxious, but this part amused me.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Print On Demand Books Face Penalties

Via Teleread, there is a report on a new court ruling on Patent Infringement that could have a big impact on Print On Demand publishers. Read Teleread's take here.

Teleread introduces it's report: "The print on demand business--the big guys and maybe even the small timers--may have to pay millions to the estate of a St. Louis inventor. Beyond a settlement, PODers might even have to pay a five-percent licensing fee in many cases on manufacturing costs if this unfortunate decision sticks. That's hardly glad tidings for POD customers, either, of course"

Defense witness Ken Brooks said: "It's going to have very significant impact within the industry. I think most people are viewing it as being Lightning Source's problem, or the printer's problem, or Baker & Taylor's problem." But with patent licensing fees being proposed by On Demand Machine at approximately 5 percent of manufacturing cost, Brooks expects that "This will be the excuse to drive a general 5% increase" almost immediately. Certainly "Publishers should expect a price increase, and should expect that that will indemnify and cover them."

Many, if not most, if not all, publishers who have grown out of on-line Xena Fan Fiction based writing use Print On Demand, I believe. What will the ripple effects be on publishers like Dare2Dream and Star Crossed Productions? At the least, it seems prices will go up.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Luckovich: Mike Luckovich Cartoon #1: The Constitution

I'm enjoying these Mike Luckovich cartoons.

Today's is dated Feb 29, 2004. If it's off the index page when you go looking for it here

TeleRead: DRM Redux

Teleread has another article about the evils of DRM and the ways it robs customers. I agree with that. Yep - DRM is a pain, especially a scheme like the MS Reader DRM. What I don't get is Teleread's constant championing of MobiReader.

Let me see if I understand the Teleread argument

DRM is bad.
Closed, proprietary software is bad.
The harsher the DRM, the worse it is.

OK - so far, I can agree. Here's where I get confused:

The PalmReader is free. It runs on PalmOS and PocketPC PDAs (no Linux) It runs on Windows and Mac PCs (no Linux) There is no limit to the number of devices you can use to read a purchased book, since the DRM is tied only to your credit card number, not to a device. If I want to buy a book and read it on my Palm, then lend it to my partner so she can read it on her Ipaq, there is no problem. If I update my PalmReader, all my previously opened books remain readable -- no new device IDs or re-activation are necessary. If I buy a new PDA, same thing: all my previously opened books remain readable -- no new device IDs or re-activation are necessary.

Then there is MobiReader, which is constantly championed by Teleread. Like PalmReader, it is multi-platform. Unlike PalmReader, it also sports versions for SmartPhones and Linux. OK - I guess that's good, though if there were an actual market for reading ebooks on SmartPhones, I think Palm would develop a reader. But still, I'm sure SmartPhone readers appreciate the option.

However - and for me, this is a big however - MobiPocket's DRM is just as annoying and restrictive as Microsoft's. It is tied to your device. You are allowed a minimal number of devices. On Fictionwise, for instance, I get just 2 PIDs. When I upgraded my (free) version of MobiReader, recently, all my books had to be re-activated because they were tied to a previous PID. None of them could be opened or read, even though all I did was upgrade an existing copy of MobiReader to a newer version of MobiReader on the same PDA. This is a good thing? This is consumer friendly??

MobiPocket may adhere to an open ebook standard. But they turn around and use it to create a closed format ebook with a harsh DRM. OEBF politics don't trump all other considerations for me, when it comes to buying ebooks.

I'm not ideological about my reading software. I have PalmReader, TomeRaider, Audible Player, iSilo Reader, WordSmith, DocsToGo, MobiReader, Repligo, and Adobe Reader for Palm on my Tungsten T3. Sheesh - I had to buy a T3 just to have enough RAM for all the readers! Oddly, this doesn't bother me. But I am displeased with PID schemes that require me to register my hardware. I find them more onerous than simple DRM like that used by Palm Reader. Why does Teleread constantly tout the virtues of MobiReader over all other readers? I just don't get it.

On a similar, but tangential, note - take a look at the difference between Palm's approach to making your own ebooks vs. MobiPocket's. Palm offers DropBook for free (well, OK - it's crappy software - but I'd think the Linux crowd would enjoy inserting their own mark-up tags) or Palm Digital Studio for $30.00. That puts making and sharing free ebooks within the financial range of just about everyone. MobiPocket has an MS Office Plug-In, with fairly limited functionality, for $20.00 or MobiPublisher for $150.00 For MobiPocket, creating and sharing ebooks is an activity best left to corporations. Again, I ask... what is so consumer friendly about this?

This Week's Free Books from Fictionwise

What Maisie Knew by Henry James
A Message From the Sea by Charles Dickens
Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackeray

Be still my heart...

Jay Blotcher, a freelancer with an AIDS advocate's past, bounced by The Times

As long as I'm linking to NY Times stories today, consider this story:

"The New York Times recently dumped Jay Blotcher as a stringer and, while the dismissal was presented as a concern over ethics, the whole episode makes me wonder if The Times takes ethics seriously at all.

Blotcher, who has been involved with gay and AIDS groups in the past, joined the newspaper as a stringer––a freelance reporter––in 2001 after he left New York City for the Hudson Valley. For much of his employment he contributed stories or reporting without ever getting a byline in the paper.

In late 2003, Blotcher published two stories and, under a new Times policy, his name appeared on those pieces. One story dealt with the trial of a woman who was accused of killing her three children. The second concerned some vandalism on a college campus.

“I never dealt with gay issues or AIDS issues,” Blotcher said.

Someone, an editor, another reporter, or a reader noted Blotcher’s name and recalled that he was once a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP.

“There was no complaint,” wrote Susan Edgerley, the Times metropolitan editor, in response to a Gay City News e-mail query. “We recognized the name from his work with ACT UP.”

That was it for Blotcher. On January 12, Lew Serviss, a Times editor, told him the paper would no longer use him in any section. When he appealed to Edgerley she responded, “I am setting the bar high to protect against any appearance of conflict of interest that might result through the hiring of stringers and leg-people. My motivation is expediency as well as ethics––we simply do not spend as much time checking into the backgrounds of independent contractors as we do of fulltime staff people.”

Read the whole sorry story here

Got a Book in You? More Companies Than Ever Are Willing to Get It Out

And another story from today's Times about Borders joining the Print On Demand bandwagon. If you want to join the other 4,000,000 Uber Publishers, this might help you get your feet wet...

"Borders is the latest traditional bookseller or publisher to branch into self-publishing using print-on-demand or P.O.D. technology. P.O.D., inheritor of the vanity press and survivor of the dot-com implosion, makes it feasible - technologically and economically - to produce one copy of a book."

Full article here

Report Raises Questions About Fighting Online Piracy

More from today's NY Times -- an article outlining a new report that raises questions about the use of draconian legislation and lawsuits to enforce copyright.

An excerpt: "The entertainment industry's pursuit of tough new laws to protect copyrighted materials from online piracy is bad for business and for the economy, according to a report being released today by the Committee for Economic Development, a Washington policy group that has its roots in the business world"

Read the full article at : http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/01/technology/01rights.html?th

Bob Herbert: Stolen Kisses

Bob Herbert has a piece in today's NY Times about the gay marriage debate.

Here's an excerpt:

"In a country that is quick to celebrate the rights of the individual and the ideals of freedom, real tolerance is often hard to come by.

One of the particularly absurd arguments against allowing gays to marry is that such a lapse would send us skidding down that dreadful slope to legalization of incest, polygamy, bestiality and so forth.

In an interview last spring with The Associated Press, Senator Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, said we'll be on that slope if the courts even tolerate homosexual acts. Referring to the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of a challenge to a Texas anti-sodomy law, the senator said, "And if the Supreme Court says that you have a right to [gay] consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

That line of thinking reminded me of a passage in Randall Kennedy's book, "Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption." In a 19th-century miscegenation case, a black man in Tennessee was charged with criminal fornication. The man's defense was that the woman, who was white, was his wife. They had been married lawfully in another state.

"That argument," wrote Mr. Kennedy, "was rejected by the Tennessee Supreme Court, which maintained that its acceptance would necessarily lead to condoning `the father living with his daughter . . . in lawful wedlock,' " and "the Turk being allowed to `establish his harem at the doors of the capitol.' " We have a tendency to prohibit things simply because we don't like them. Because they don't appeal to us. They don't feel quite right. Or we've never done it that way before. And when things don't feel quite right, when they make us uncomfortable, we often leap, with no basis in fact, to the conclusion that they are unnatural, immoral, degenerate, against the will of God.

And then the persecution begins."

You can find the whole article at : http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/01/opinion/01HERB.html?th

You'll have to register (it's free) to read it.