“The web is great because you can see things, you
can sample things; but, in the end, people want something they can put
their hands on. In the end, the book is still the most efficient way to
Since 1997, I have been asking notable publishers and
editors about their lives in the book business and the remarkable, not
loveable, alteration we have seen in its structure. Generously, they have
told me how they entered the book trade; spoken about writers they’ve
published and declined to publish; described the (changing) class
structure of their domain; talked straight about money, commerce, and
corporate capitalism; described their way of practicing responsible
publishing. Without exception they have been serious readers, usually of
more than one language. They have recognized that times have changed. They
have observed with wary friendliness the generations coming up. They have
spoken out of the old values and honorable traditions of book-publishing.
But, once books are published, where do they go? Where
are the local independent bookshops, where a thoughtful reader may browse
at his leisure; where an insistent reader expects to find the new books by
her favorite authors? A conversation with an independent bookseller would,
I thought, offer yet another insight into the chaotic business of books
and why we still need and want them.
Now, Archipelago sees itself as a small literary
quarterly following a venerable tradition of literary magazines. It is
born in print and (it likes to think) returns to print. It also knows
itself to be part of a new way of publishing called digital or electronic
publishing, because it appears and is distributed on the world-wide web.
What these sentences mean is that Archipelago is transmitted
electronically, not on paper, to its readers. Any reader can capture the
“Download Edition” from the website to his or her desktop. With the
aid of the free-ware Adobe Reader, he or she can open, read, and even
print the issue, off-line. Thus is Archipelago made known. As I
write this paragraph, I am aware of how incongruous, even ugly, its
language must sound to the book people I have mentioned. I hear it myself.
Yet, we love books; yet, here we are, on-line. How did we get here? I
thought I would find out. I went and asked a journalist who has covered
the development of electronic publishing almost from its beginnings, not
so long ago, to the shape-changer it is now.
These conversations about books and publishing will
continue to appear regularly in Archipelago, and may serve as an
opening into an institutional memory contrasting itself with the current
corporate structure, reflecting on glories of its own, revealing what
remains constant amid the flux. The people speaking here are strong-minded
characters engaged with their historical circumstances. Out of that
engagement have appeared, and continue to be found, a number of books that
we can say, rightly, belong to literature.
A Conversation with Marion
Vol. 1 No. 3
A Conversation with Cornelia and Michael Bessie, Vol. 1
No. 4 and Vol. 2, No. 1
A Conversation with William
Strachan, Vol. 2, No. 4
A Conversation with Samuel H.
Vaughan, Vol. 3, No. 2
Reminiscence: Lee Goerner
(1947-1995), Vol. 3, No. 3
A Conversation with Odile
Hellier, Vol. 4, No. 1
of Publishers Weekly
When the third conversation in this series came out, in
March 1998, a notice appeared in the Web Watch
column of Publishers Weekly: “It’s the first anniversary
of Archipelago (www.archipelago.org), a fine online literary journal….
Among Archipelago’s contributing editors are Benjamin Cheever and Larry
Woiwode. It features short fiction, poetry, essays and a series of
interviews on the current state of publishing with the curators of such
notable imprints as Marion Boyars and Cornelia and Michael Bessie.”
The notice, written by Calvin Reid, brought more readers
to Archipelago. A friend told me that Calvin Reid was a nice
fellow, and that I ought to phone him when I was in New York again and say
hello. I did, and we met for lunch. I thanked him for having done Archipelago
a good turn. He explained that someone had e-mailed him our URL
and said, “You should check this out.” That is an example of what is
called “viral marketing.” I learned the phrase from him recently.
Calvin Reid has been a news reporter for Publishers Weekly, the trade paper of the industry, since 1987.
For these conversations we met in a conference room in the Cahner’s
Building on West Seventeenth Street, in late September and again in
mid-November, and then talked by phone in early December, 2000.
Calvin Reid and I are of the same generation and share certain references.
Although his hair is salt-and-peppered, he looks fit, and he talks in a
jazzman’s sort of syncopated rhythm. He is an enthusiast. He reads
omnivorously, is a visual artist, and plays squash. He writes criticism
and reviews for Art in America, Artnet.com, the International Review of African
American Art, and Polyester, a bi-lingual art magazine in
Mexico City, and is a contributing editor of Bomb. A couple of
years ago he took me on a late-night ramble through the East Village. At
every bar and supper club he ran into somebody he knew. Long after
midnight, several of us ended up at a place on the corner of Houston and
the Bowery, where Calvin and a painter friend of his wound the night down
evaluating the deeply intelligent work of an exhibiting artist which they
thought would take them in a new direction.
Another day, he will talk seriously about graphic
novels and comics, a literature of which he is fond, and in which he is
well-read. For a couple of years I have been asking him about interesting
fringe-y small presses: who is out there, what are they publishing, who
are you reading now? My notebooks are dotted with references he has given
me to writers, artists, publishers, countercultural performers, websites.
Calvin Reid has reported on electronic publishing since
the early 1990s. For readers not technically-minded,
but curious, or worried, about digital technology, its effects on books
and reading, and its (often deleterious) contributions to the language,
this conversation should prove a useful, if general, map of the site.
IN THE BEGINNING
In Black and White
KATHERINE McNAMARA: May we talk about electronic
publishing? When did you start looking at it, and why?
CALVIN REID: Well, we probably didn’t write
about any kind of new media, any kind of digital transformation of the
industry, probably until about 1992, or maybe ‘93.
I got my first personal computer in ’94.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: It seems so long ago.
CALVIN REID: We’re talking six years ago. We
had written a few things about the web, though no one on the staff had
really actually seen it. A guy named Paul Gediman was a copy editor, and
later became a Forecast editor, at Publishers Weekly. He was
wired very early, and so when I got my computer, I talked to him. It was a
Powerbook 145B. I think I had eight megabytes
of RAM and a forty-megabyte hard drive. I was, like, right on the
KATHERINE McNAMARA: The operating system took
about one megabyte, so you had about…
CALVIN REID: I think it was about twenty-five
megahertz. Black and white; not even gray scale. I got the Powerbook, and
shortly after that I started to see the web. I don’t know if that is
necessarily the beginning of our electronic-publishing coverage; probably
not, because we were writing quite a bit about it already. In fact, Publishers
Weekly, in general, was quite involved in the CD-ROM
debacle – I don’t know what else to call it. We were writing about it.
In fact, we were putting on an annual conference about CD-ROM
publishing, which, as we know now, turned out not to amount to much. That
kind of publishing faded away; but the internet didn’t. As we were
starting to see throughout ’94 and ’95,
publishers were going on-line. Now, at the time I was only looking at
these things, and I was going around the web in black and white.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I like that, “going around
the web in black and white.” That could be the title of a piece.
CALVIN REID: Well, that’s pretty much was what
KATHERINE McNAMARA: …on the threshold between
print and digital…
CALVIN REID: …primitive cutting-edge
technology. But still, that was a step up from our not seeing them at all,
and, really, writing at some remove from really what was actually going
on. Around that time, we started a column called Web Watch, since nobody
else was really doing it, at Publishers Weekly. I roamed around
the web and wrote about any kind of interesting book-related site. To a
certain extent that might have been the beginning of our e-publishing
The structure: conglomeration and
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Let’s go back to 1993
and 1994, and talk about development. Let’s
talk about the structure of e-publishing, because the conglomeration of
publishing was, by then, proceeding apace. Do you think there is any
relationship between the conglomeration of publishing firms – turning
what used to be trade publishing, composed of rather separate “houses,”
into linked, subordinate parts of a financial-entertainment network –
and the development of electronic publishing? Where did e-publishing come
from? Did it start on the margins? Did it start with small operations?
CALVIN REID: I’m not necessarily sure I’ll be
able to tell where it started.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Not to choose a place, but to
locate what I might call a “layer.” E-publishing wasn’t being
started up, for instance, in Gütersloh [Germany, headquarters of
Bertelsmann, owners of Random House and many other publishing companies],
CALVIN REID: Well, to some extent, it was. In
part, the electronic media have prompted a convergence of all media away
from being “books,” “magazines,” “movies,” toward being just
“content” – though obviously the corporate conglomeration predates
that movement. There are, I think, some parallels between them. Obviously,
as media conglomerates found themselves lords over a variety of
businesses, that fact, along with the development of technology, meant
that they found it very easy to re-purpose, or repackage, the material
they produced. They realized the potential to be paid several times over
for the same content by “re-purposing” it, that is, re-using and
enhancing it, quickly and easily, in other formats, or licensing it to
other companies to do the same. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on
this. I think the interest in CD-ROM was the
beginning of that, and the web has only made its possibilities more
It’s hard to think about that now. I mean, the web
seemed almost to develop out of nowhere. Obviously, we know now how it
came about, but in the early ’90s, nobody was
using it. That is, corporations were not using it.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Scientists were using it.1
CALVIN REID: The internet was there, but we didn’t
even have e-mail here at PW. We had an
internal e-mail, we could send it around the office. Then, by 1995,
1996, we had high-speed internet access through our computer
terminals and to e-mail, and from then on, we were writing about it. That,
as I remember, is when we started to see a change in CD-ROM
KATHERINE McNAMARA: It went away.
CALVIN REID: It nose-dived. Publishers lost a lot
money on it. Sales weren’t there, mostly because, in the early days, of
the way publishers went about dealing with it. They were setting up their
own new media departments and pumping enormous amounts of money into
development. It could cost six figures to produce one of these multimedia CDs
in those days, and the return wasn’t even close to what they spent.
Publishers didn’t necessarily scrap their new-media departments, but
they certainly scrapped their focus on CD-ROMs,
except in certain instances: games. Simon &
Schuster had a foothold in games, and continues to have it. But in
general, publishing efforts seemed to switch from CD-ROMs
to computer books for IT professionals. There were
publishers who had specialized in it, but then you started seeing more of
What were we doing here? I was writing more and more
about the internet. I started Web Watch shortly after I got my computer,
because once I started seeing the web, that made the whole difference.
That was also when I discovered Amazon.com, which I read
about on a mailing list about comics I was on. They were writing that
there was this bookstore where you could get the books we were talking
about, and you could get them at a discount, and that they had a database
that seemed to have everything, and that you could even get bibliographic
information about the book that you were looking for, even if you didn’t
buy it. That was new. I started checking out Amazon, and it was pretty
impressive. It had everything. I would look up obscure books in, say,
poetry, or whatever I thought of, and they would have the book. Everything
that Amazon does now was there in a primitive state: in the old flush
left, two-toned universe. It was either “centered” or “flush left”
in the world of the internet, in those days. That was what graphic design
Later, we started seeing more sophisticated websites. We
were doing a lot of stories about publishers launching sites. I remember
when Random House launched theirs. Simon &
Schuster launched an elaborate website; this must have been 1996
or ’97. Really, they all did. I think it was
Macmillan that launched a very elaborate on-line bookstore for computer
and professional books. They were one of the early companies to sell
What else was going on? We were writing more stories in
the news section itself. I believe I did a story about Simon &
Schuster’s direct marketing department, which creates only mail-order
books, which never show up in their catalogs. They were using the web to
put the books up for viewing. There was a reference book about what to do
to get into college. It was meant to appeal to teenagers. They had
constructed a web-site that you went through page by page , and they used
comic book-like animation and drawing and illustration. It seemed
imaginative. Apparently, they had gotten a great response to it, and so, I
did a story about it.
I did a story about Beta Books, McGraw-Hill’s series
of computer books. It was an attempt to bring to publishing a certain
practice that is normal in the computing industry. For instance, you take
some software and you post it, so that people can see it in advance, as a
way to test it. At Beta Books they were putting up books as they were
being produced and written, on-line. You could buy a subscription; you
basically “pre-bought” the book, and you could see it on-line. O’Reilly
Associates started doing this also; they have a different name for their
program. You got a subscription log-on name, and you could go into the
site and see the book as it was being written. Then you could give them
some feedback. This was aimed at the tech community. When it was finished,
a copy of the book was automatically shipped to you.
That was an interesting early program, that still
exists, although I think they’ve eliminated the subscription. You can go
to the site and see what is being developed. What we’ve learned about
the web is, in many cases, true, and it is this: counter-intuitively, the
more you give things away, the more people want something real,
based on it.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: You said something like that
to me a few weeks ago, and piqued my curiosity: “If you give people
something free on the web, they tend to buy what it came from. People want
the real thing, because it has its own qualities.”
CALVIN REID: The web is great because you can see
things, you can sample things; but, in the end, people want something they
can put their hands on. In the end, the book is still the most efficient
way to transfer information. The web is useful and convenient, but it's a
lot easier to pull a book off the shelf. People want to do both. They like
to be able to see the book in advance, they like to be able to give
feedback – and that’s one thing the web is, it’s the world’s
greatest soapbox, everyone gets to sound off – and they want the book,
too. People want books.
Independents, books on paper, and e-books
KATHERINE McNAMARA: So far, we’ve been talking
about New York trade publishing. What about smaller presses, independent
presses, and so on. Were you paying attention to them?
CALVIN REID: Very often, I wrote about small
self-publishers and very small presses. I remember, in particular,
Rainwater Press and Nan McCarthy. I wrote about her very early on. Then
she went on to become a small phenomenon. She’s a very interesting
woman. She was a technical writer who wrote computer specs, but she had
always wanted to write fiction. She had the technical skills, so she said,
“I’m just going to do this myself,” and she put up a website for
herself. She had written an epistolary novel, called CHAT,
that was a love story told in e-mail. She would put a segment up on-line.
You would come, leave your e-mail address, and read the segment, and she
would keep your notice. She started building an e-mail database. I saw
that this was a shrewd way to use the web to find a market, to promote
yourself – in many ways, to test market your book. The seeds of what web
marketing and promotion and e-publishing have become were embodied, as I
recall it, in this website.
As it turns out, she had developed quite a following, so
she self-published the first editions of her book, sold a respectable
number of copies, as I recall, and the books were eventually picked up by
Pocket Books. I think the Wall Street Journal did a story about
her, also. The books came out and ended up, eventually, as a series, and
she sold a fair number of books. Remember, this is commercial fiction. I
was looking for those kinds of stories on the web. I was looking for
people, particularly little guys, or little women, who were using the web’s
ability to reach out and, inexpensively, find readers for whatever they
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Were traditional small
presses interested in the web?
CALVIN REID: I did start to notice, and I have
written quite a bit about, small publishers going on-line, particularly
that group of non-profits out there in Minneapolis-St. Paul: Graywolf,
Coffee House, Milkweed. They all went on-line and offered websites that
were on-line literary communities. You could buy books through the site,
or through an associate dot com. You could find out about the authors and
the books. Publishers were starting, more and more, to see the web as an
inexpensive marketing tool: small publishers, and the big publishers, too.
At least, they had gotten to the point where they realized this was an
inexpensive way to market a book. You can put an excerpt up, and a cover,
of every book you have to offer, and maybe that’s useful. I started
seeing more of that, and writing about it.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: In a recent article (PW,
Nov. 5, 2000, “Different Scenarios Examined At
Inaugural ePub Expo”), you and your colleagues reported on an “e-publishing
expo,” in which electronic publishing was the main topic. The article
raised an interesting question. Let me read the section to you: “The
final panel of the final day, ‘Leveraging Brand as Value Added Focus,’
looked at the ability of e-publishers to spread a functional awareness of
their content and brought out many of the paradoxes inherent in electronic
publishing.” What are those “inherent paradoxes.” What does that
CALVIN REID: It means that electronic publishing
is a very small business right now. It’s tiny in comparison with the
main revenue streams of conventional publishing. This is the main paradox
of electronic publishing. There is a market for it, and has been a market
for a number of years, well before Stephen King’s RIDING
THE BULLET. Stephen King didn’t invent or create the market and,
in some ways, he is irrelevant. The paradox is that, as small as the
revenues produced so far by e-publishing are, publishers are forced to pay
very close attention to it. They’re forced to sink significant sums of
money into a back-office infrastructure that can support e-publishing,
meaning the distribution of e-books and the re-purposing of content, that
is, the re-using and re-direction of content otherwise known as books.
That’s the clearest paradox: publishers are forced to pay an awful lot
of attention to small numbers that are growing incrementally. How big they
will grow in the near future is still anybody’s guess.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: This sounds a little like the
CD-ROM buildup, doesn’t it? What are they doing in
the back offices, building that infrastructure? Who is doing what, and
CALVIN REID: Well, a number of companies are
providing a number of services. Publishers, obviously, are making
investments in their own businesses, to be able to take over the technical
aspects required for publishing e-books. There are also a number of
companies either providing partial services or bringing on their own “black-box”
solutions, offering themselves as middlemen for some of the tasks. All
publishers have to have a minimum level of technical ability. I’m being
a little vague here, because I’m not a technical person, but: you need a
technical infrastructure to have your files digitized. You have to be able
to store these files. You have to be able to transfer them when needed,
and you have to be able to identify them; and, to some extent, you have to
be able to produce a variety of formats of e-books.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What is all this money that’s
going into electronic publishing going to do for trade publishing, do you
CALVIN REID: All it’s going for now is to be
able to accommodate technically. In order to be an e-publisher, you have
to have the facility to digitize and store titles – you need a certain
level of technical capability. That’s what the money is going for that
publishers are putting in right now. They’re putting money into either
setting up their own facilities, or they’re paying somebody else to do
Do You read E-books?
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Do you read e-books?
CALVIN REID: I have read e-books, but I’ll be
frank: I don’t have a big database of e-books. I mean, many people use
e-books and have been using e-books for years. If you use Adobe Acrobat,
if you’ve looked at a tax form on-line –
KATHERINE McNAMARA: If you’ve looked at the
download edition of Archipelago –
CALVIN REID: Exactly. You can download many of
the other on-line magazines, as well, and read them in pdf [portable
document format] versions. Manuals for the very computer you’re
using are probably in pdf files. I have used a Rocket eBook. I think it’s
useful. I’ll tell you one thing, I actually don’t like that device,
and I don’t think that it’s going to be the device which defines
digital reading in the future.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Let’s talk about digital
books. I’ve learned about them at the Electronic Text Center at the
University of Virginia, which was organized and is directed by an man who
was trained in medieval studies, David Seaman. – Do you notice this, by
the way: how many innovative people in web-work are learned, or practice
an art or a science? – David Seaman has made an arrangement, or a deal,
I ought to say, with Microsoft, so that, if you have a PC,
you can download the Microsoft Reader, and then choose and download from
the digitized texts available in the E-text Center library. They have
twelve-hundred titles, so far, and you can get them for free.
CALVIN REID: Available on-line, or downloadable?
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Both. In the electronic
library itself, not everything is available to everyone; some of the books
and texts on-line are available only to the university community; but the
books in their vast digital library which are encoded for the Microsoft
Reader are, indeed, available to everyone, at no cost. And since August,
they have “shipped,” as they say, more than a million copies of
CALVIN REID: This sounds a little like the
Gutenberg Project. Are you familiar with that? The Gutenberg Project was,
is, a kind of labor of love, organized by this quirky guy named Michael
Hart, from just outside of Chicago, who decided he was going to
make books available on the web. He started this giant volunteer project
to scan and post classic, public-domain writing. No bestseller or computer
books, because of copyright, but books from earlier centuries that the
volunteers thought ought to be readable, digitally.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: It sounds like Dover Books,
CALVIN REID: There are thousands of books. They
started in the ’80s, if I’m not mistaken,
because there were various protocols on the internet 2, obviously, before
the graphical web started up. It was all text. This sort of thing was
being used very often by librarians and scholars for many years before we
came to this discussion that we’re having now.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Before money entered the
CALVIN REID: Exactly. Before money. So, thousands
of books are available through the Gutenberg Project – HUCKLEBERRY
FINN, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, SHERLOCK HOLMES,
Shakespeare; and more are going up every day. They put up a hundred books
every month, or so. It’s all-volunteer. They look at the files
meticulously, checking for errors and bad scans and so on, and place them
up. It’s truly a labor of love of literature.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: They’ve done something like
that at the E-text Center, except that the books are in many languages, as
CALVIN REID: The Gutenberg Project like that:
texts are available in a number of languages. There are other sites, too.
I did an early story about resources for librarians, on-line. It was done
at some southern university and offered books, commentaries on literature,
and other useful information.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What other kinds of literary
publishing have you noticed on the web?
CALVIN REID: There’s a lot, and a little. You
can go to places, obviously, like the Gutenberg Project. There is the
writer Mark Amerika, who was in the Whitney Biennial last year: early on,
I did a story about his site. Very early on, he was a writer who saw the
potential of the web as a publishing venue and as a community. These are
two things that work on the web: not only can you disseminate, but you can
aggregate. You can accumulate people around interests. And so, Mark
Amerika started a site with a publishing arm, called Black Ice. This was
an early site that put up work by writers, entire books by writers, and,
very often, hypertext novels. Now, I’m not saying he was the first to do
hypertext novels, because there were others.
But there are some resources on the web for literary
writing. In fact, there is a hypertext contest every year. Now, hypertext
novels are an acquired taste, for writing and for reading. I’m,
personally, not that interested in multiple-optioned texts.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Well, Cortázer did it in the
’60s, in HOPSCOTCH.
CALVIN REID: That’s right. I hadn’t made that
connection before. Funny you should mention this, because I wrote a story
recently about the Electronic Literature Organization.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I saw the article. Then Bill
Wadsworth, of the Academy of American Poets, spoke of it as noteworthy,
and so I looked them up.
CALVIN REID: It’s a fairly new organization,
directed by an interesting guy by the name of Scott Rettberg, who is the
author of a prize-winning hypertext novel. Their mission is to study both
the business model of, and the new literary forms in, electronic
publishing. They aim to be a kind of Book Industry Study Group (BISG)
for electronic publishing, except that BISG isn’t
interested much in studying content. It’s a think tank for electronic
publishing. They’re fairly new, they have a surprising amount of
corporate support, and they’re going to be holding a conference in New
York in the spring. They’ve set themselves up on the web as a resource
on the web for literary publishers to think about how they do what they
do, and to encourage them. There is a strand of thought, which, I will
say, I don’t agree with that e-books won’t become popular until some
digital variety of literature is created. Or, that, until it becomes the
medium it’s on, digital literature won’t be “real.”
I don’t agree with that. I do think there will be new
forms. But I think people want the ease of getting to books, in the ease
of the technology. I think people will be more than happy to read a wide
variety of things, whether they are by nature digital or are transposed
from print. People want to get what they want. If they can
get it in an easy way, a convenient way, and use it in a way that’s
fulfilling, then they’ll do it.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: There are many formats,
meaning software, for coding e-books, aren’t there? Isn’t this
CALVIN REID: Yes, there are, and it is. This is
an issue in the business. Certain e-books can be read on certain devices;
others can’t. A number of firms, like Versaware, Softlock –which has
just changed its name to Digital Goods – and Lightning Source, the
Ingram company: among the things these companies do is convert titles.
They take print titles and scan and/or take the pdf files and convert
them, usually into some neutral digital form that can be held in storage,
then converted into one of a number of e-book formats. You have the Rocket
eBook, which is now produced by Gemstar, a company better known for
producing VCRs: programming technology. But the guy
that runs the company, Henry Yuen, is very plugged into consumer devices.
This year, his company acquired the assets of Nuvomedia, the company that
developed the Rocket eBook, and also, SoftBook, which is another variety
of e-book device, that has a different business model than Rocket eBook. RCA
has manufactured a new version – I think there are two units out, one
that replaces the Rocket eBook, and one that actually also replaces the
SoftBook. To backtrack just a little bit, Gemstar acquired both Rocket
eBook and SoftBook, and is coming out with new versions of their
KATHERINE McNAMARA: That are retrogressive, aren’t
they, so that people with old versions can use them?
CALVIN REID: Yes, you can still use your old
e-books on it and your old accounts, too, because the two systems are
different. The Rocket eBook system is downloadable to your hard drive, and
then you can transfer it to the unit. The SoftBook is, primarily, an
on-line account that you can then activate to download copies of books to
your device. The SoftBook – the device – is the hard drive for these
books; but you also have them at all times in an on-line account, so you
can also access whenever you want to. You can delete them from the
hard-drive and still keep them in your account on-line; then you can
reload them whenever you choose to.
Also, the business model is different than for the
Rocket eBook: it’s a subscription service. You still buy titles, but
SoftBook offers – this is aimed at the business market – downloadable
e-books as well as a variety of content from magazines and other places.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What are publishers saying
about these different formats? What are they gambling on? Let us say, the
trade publishers who are investing in e-book back offices: what are they
CALVIN REID: Publishers are reacting to the
marketplace. The fact is that there is a variety of formats of e-books.
The formats relate to different devices. There are a number of these
devices, and all of these have a format that can be read. The Rocket eBook,
SoftBooks, new generations of hand-held devices called Pocket PCs,
which, basically, read Microsoft Reader software, which is another format,
another software for e-book readers. It’s software to display the text.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I’ve read about devices
like Handspring Visor, and others.
CALVIN REID: Yes, among the devices are personal
digital assistants, PDAs. These would be the Palm
devices, Palm OS devices. The Palm operating system
is licensed to a number of other manufacturers, who also make PDAs.
So, you have the Palm devices themselves, for instance, the Handspring
Visor (now owned by palmOne –ed.), which uses the Palm OS [operating system].
These devices – and there are, roughly, ten million of them in
circulation – are extremely popular. And you can also read books on
them. There is a company called Peanut Press. Peanut Press’s business
model is that they convert titles; they have a proprietary technology that
converts titles into a form that can be read on PDAs.
Invariably, what you hear from publishers, at least the ones I talk to, is
that their biggest-selling e-books tend to be in the Peanut Press format,
because there are more PDAs in the market than any
other device. The Rocket eBook may have a couple of thousand, maybe ten
thousand, devices out. And there are other devices. Several new ones are
coming out, just about now. Gemstar has redesigned and refocused the two
devices that they bought, and the two have now become one device that has
There’s also a device coming out called eBookman that
very interesting. It is the cheapest of all the devices – the cheapest
version is $129.00 – and this is the paradox,
also. One of the things publishers are waiting to see is, what does the
market want? What do consumers really want, as far as proprietary or
handheld devises go? Do they want a dedicated reader, that doesn’t do
anything else but read books, or do they want a multi-purpose, multi-use
device like a PDA?
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What is called the “killer
CALVIN REID: EBookman could be the killer app,
because it does all of these things. You can listen to MP3
files on it, you can record your own voice on it, you can read books on
it, it’s an organizer like a PDA. I, and many
others, believe that the market for these readers is a multi-use market. I
don’t think people are going to want to carry around three or four
devices; they’ll want one device that does a number of things –
certainly, the organizing aspect, perhaps being able to send and receive
e-mail, and the ability to read books and documents.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: On a little screen. Nobody
will have eyes left.
CALVIN REID: One thing about these devices: I
think the damage they’ll do your eyes has been overstated. They display
fonts in a way that you can increase or decrease size. It’s not as bad
as you think. One thing to keep in mind: technology does not stand still.
It’s always evolving, becoming cheaper and easier to use.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: There will, won’t there,
most likely be a shake-out, with all these devices and formats available?
Do you have a sense of what will survive it?
CALVIN REID: There will, most likely, be a
shake-out. There will be the development of some new application. The
technology will get better. Personally, I’m betting on PDAs
to win over the market.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: PDAs
using the Palm OS?
CALVIN REID: Mostly likely, because they’re
pervasive right now, and they’re becoming cheaper and easier to use.
There’s the key: all the technology is becoming cheaper and easier to
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I wonder about cross-platform
applications. Palm is now available for Macs as well as PCs,
but it took them a while to offer it.
CALVIN REID: That’s what everyone is looking
for: the cross-platform application that will read any e-book. Or put it
this way: that there will be one format that dominates, and everybody
publishes in that format. Then we’d get to the point where we’re
manufacturing only one kind of device because there’s one format, or, at
some point, there’ll be a device that will read cross-platform.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: One format verges on
monopoly, I should think.
CALVIN REID: Well, it’s not happening now.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: VCRs
went that way, didn’t they: they knocked out Beta?
CALVIN REID: And from what I’ve read, VCR
wasn’t even the best format. A format can become popular, even if it’s
not the best format, because that’s where the market goes. And that’s
what the publishers are looking for: who has the best numbers? Whoever can
get the market to come over to them will dominate. I think PDAs
have a chance to do that, because there are more of them in the market.
What we’re seeing is that the biggest numbers of e-books – and we’re
not talking super-numbers: in a package of titles, the Peanut Press titles
might sell in the thousands, whereas every other title might sell in the
hundreds – but that has to have something to do with the installed base.
E-book Publishers, Audio and Digital
KATHERINE McNAMARA: You’ve mentioned several
names to me: Hardshell Word Factory, Booklocker.com, Bibliobytes.com. What
CALVIN REID: These are e-book publishers. They
publish front-list books, fiction and a wide range of other books.
Bibliobytes is a long-running digital publisher on-line. In quality, they
offer a wide variety of e-books. Now, some of them offer e-books on-line.
Booksafe.com is a more recent one. Some of these offer free, on-line
access to books supported by advertising; others offer down-loadable
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Do you think that e-books are
a different kind of activity than, say, audio books?
CALVIN REID: I think they are pretty much the
same thing. I think you’re going to see the audio book market go very
quickly to digital distribution. Obviously, the big part of the market now
is cassettes, but down the road you’re going to see – in fact, right
now Random House has a deal with Audible.com. There are also on-line firms
like Audio Highway that are offering downloadable digital audio books, in MP3
– and other formats: Windows Media is one – but MP3
is the preferred format. Thanks to Napster, MP3 is
the way to go.
There’s also a guy by the name of Gary Hustwit. Gary
is a small, fringe-culture literary publisher who founded a small press
called Incommunicado Press – this is a few years back – basically
dealing with fringe culture in California and other places. Really
excellent books, beautifully designed. He moved his company to New York.
Then he launched another company called MP3lit.com,
in the wake of the Napster phenomenon. This was to present audio books in MP3
format. His company has since been acquired by Salon.com, and has become
Salon Audio. What you’re going to see from this company is more and more
titles produced in MP3. He has had a plan to launch
another front-list audio publisher. It was supposed to be called
Loudbooks.com. I don’t know what’s going on, now: his attention has
been mostly given to Salon Audio, and this may in fact end up under that
umbrella, as well. But I think that every publisher realizes that digital
distribution is going to become a big part of their business plan; it has
KATHERINE McNAMARA: This makes sense to me. I
listen to audio books on long drives, and I enjoy and even need them.
CALVIN REID: The whole ability to distribute
content and not have to depend on warehousing, trucking, manufacturing:
this is really the post-manufacturing publishing era. As magical and
science-fiction-like as it may seem – and, obviously, it is just
beginning – publishers can’t help but look at that and think there
have got to be enormous profits, without having to support a gigantic
KATHERINE McNAMARA: So, a great deal of money is
being invested in what could be called the infrastructure.
CALVIN REID: Yes; but, once again, many
publishers are hiring middlemen to do this for them, and so, may have a
lower level of investment, just enough for their own technical people to
see what’s going on.
Commercial Publishing on the Web
KATHERINE McNAMARA: My sense is that when you
speak about numbers of e-books sold or downloaded, you are talking about
CALVIN REID: I think that’s right. There are,
though, sites like Bookface.com, which offers free access to on-line
titles, full texts, some of which are, I would say, literary. Much of what
they offer, though, is commercial fiction, as well as non-fiction.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Are they a publisher, or a
CALVIN REID: Kind of both, in that typical way
that the digital environment obscures hard-and-fast roles. You might call
them more of a digital re-printer and a bookstore. What they’re doing,
in many cases, is approaching publishers and offering some sort licensing
fee, or are offering publishers a chance to put their digital books
on-line. The books are supported by advertising. Publishers are paid a fee
every time someone accesses the book. That’s the business model. It is a
hybrid between a bookstore and a publisher.
Then, at least up until recently, you could go to sites
like Mightywords. But Mightywords, since it has been acquired by Barnes &
Noble, is cutting back on its literary publishing. They’re cutting three
or four thousand titles off their list.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: That’s a huge cut. They
were the publisher?
CALVIN REID: Mightywords was a spin-off from
Fatbrain.com, and they pitched a technology that was meant for short books
that someone could download to their hard drive and read as e-books on
screen, or print them out. But since the acquisition, they’re retreating
and are going to focus on business, science fiction, and a few other
genres that have shown demonstrable sales.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: In essence, no-risk
CALVIN REID: And so, they’ve severed their
relationship with thousands of writers who were publishing everything from
novels to their own biographies –
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Were they a vanity press,
CALVIN REID: Essentially, yes. The good stuff
they received, they promoted through their site; the rest of it had to
fend for itself.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: That’s so often the case in
trade publishing, as well.
CALVIN REID: Right. So, I wouldn’t call
Mightywords a literary publisher, but there was that option for any writer
to go to there and have his or her work available in downloadable form.
There are a number of other sites around the web, one of
which is First Books, which offers a pdf version of books. Once again,
most of the books offered through these publishing-slash-retail sites are
a combination of commercial fiction and non-fiction, with the odd literary
book thrown in.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I saw an ad for Warner Books,
which owns Ipublish.com, their e-book publisher, and noticed they offered
an e-book version of the collected stories of Evelyn Waugh.
CALVIN REID: Actually, Warner has packed its
initial e-books list with an awful lot of commercial stuff. Nothing wrong
with that. I think they’re in an exciting venture. But the one that you
probably should consider is Modern Library. Random House, along with
announcing their fifty-fifty split of e-book revenues with authors, also
gave a list of e-books they’re going to be publishing, I believe early
in 2001 – including a deal for the Modern Library,
to release e-books of a number of classic titles.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: That’s wonderful to hear.
Superdistribution and Viral Marketing
CALVIN REID: That’s interesting, too, because
Random House also seems to be looking very critically at the distribution
and marketing model. The next buzz words which, if you haven’t already
heard, you’re going to be hearing an awful lot in the publishing world
in the next few months, are “superdistribution” and “viral
marketing.” The words actually describe the same the same thing.
Essentially, what this means is what goes on on the web daily, say, in the
steam of jokes you get from someone who ordinarily wouldn’t tell you a
joke, but who, on the net, feels a need to send you every joke they run
across. I’ve never understood that. People who can never tell a joke in
their lives, but they can send them to you, via the internet. Pet
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Underlined; along with
virtual greeting cards that play music.
CALVIN REID: This is what goes on all the time:
you get some information you think is interesting, you pass it one to
someone else. That’s called “viral marketing,” viral as in virus.
What publishers and marketers are trying to do on the web is to create is
a variety of software applications that allow people to pass things on,
but that have some sort of copyright protection embedded in the
pass-along, and that allow readers, say, to browse a section of the
content. But if they want the item, they have to buy it – click on a
page and put in a credit card number.
This kind of marketing is being coupled with a wide
range of alliances that allow non-book websites to become, in effect,
retail sites. Over the next few months, you’re going to see a lot more
of this combination of retail alliances and superdistribution. The new
model, now, you’re going to be hearing about is this: rather than the
enormous expense, as in the early paradigm of the web, of Barnes&noble.com
or amazon.com paying millions of dollars to become the official bookseller
on high-traffic web sites – in other words, trying to get a website to
drive readers to you – now they’re trying to allow the content to go
to wherever the consumers are. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper, and most
people on the web, I think, believe it will be a lot more effective. Or,
in any event, “content providers” – better known as publishers, or,
even, writers – are going to follow their consumers.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Or, as I would say,
publishers and writers will try to follow their readers. I think you’ve
just given me, not an exclusive, but a flag, something to watch.
CALVIN REID: Right. The notion of
superdistribution and viral marketing is all the rage among marketers on
the web, but it’s just now reaching the book publishing industry. There
are a number of products out there that claim to be able to protect
content even as it’s distributed willy-nilly across the web. We’ll see
whether it all works, or not.
Print on Demand
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Another topic: print on
CALVIN REID: Well, that’s something that
publishers understand. And they like it. I find that when I’m talking to
publishers, they mumble, “E-books, e-books, e-books,” but they perk up
about print on demand. That they can understand, because we’re talking
about real books here. There is a thing at the end of the process, and
that’s what publishers know. John Oakes, of Four Walls Eight Windows, a
fine small publisher, said he’s had some dealings with NetLibrary and
Rocket e-Book. He’s got some e-books out.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: You’ve said you thought
that print on demand within ten years will be the normal way of printing
CALVIN REID: The technology is getting better.
The printing device itself is getting smaller.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I understand that Sprout, in
Atlanta, is distributing the machines; is that right?
CALVIN REID: Sprout is a print-on-demand service
company that has various partnerships with Borders, Consortium, the book
distributors, and with Majors book chain, a chain of technical and
reference bookstores in the South. They have put their machines in both
distribution centers and individual stores, as in the Majors system, and
my understanding is that there are plans to put the machines in Borders,
and in Follett’s, the college bookstores. I have heard that some of the
recent in-store installations have been hampered by, perhaps, technical
difficulties; but they do have one in a distribution center, and,
apparently, an outlet in Texas, in a Majors store. What I was told by
Sprout was, you could walk into a store and order a book, and in fifteen
minutes you would get it. It would be manufactured on the spot.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: The machine does do that. I’ve
seen print-on-demand volumes; they do look like mass-produced books. I
would suppose, then, that what the publisher would do, and the
distributor, would set up the same arrangement with a bookstore: i.e., the
bookstore would get, what, forty percent, or twenty percent, or some such
CALVIN REID: I’d guess it would be much the
same. When you start looking at this, and then, projecting into the
future, you see a network of machines like this all around the country.
What is the model we have now? Thousands of copies are printed at one
location and shipped out. But what we’re talking about here is, looking
at the sales figures for the major cities where you want the books to go,
and having them printed right where they’re needed, if not in the stores
KATHERINE McNAMARA: It’s brilliant. Here’s
another question, then. The first big blow, as I used to hear it, against
small presses came when the I.R.S. ruled that books
were without special status, but were a mere product, like any other
manufactured item, and therefore taxable as inventory. I still believe
that that ruling was a watershed and an important piece of our cultural
history. Has there been a tax ruling, that you know of, about this new
technology? Is digital property “inventory”?
CALVIN REID: It’s certainly inventory, but, as
I understand it, it isn’t taxed.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: How can you count it as
inventory? It seems to me that the most you can say is what you paid as an
advance, and what the development costs have been.
CALVIN REID: Maybe, as print on demand develops,
that may become more of an issue, where having a digital copy in storage
is the equivalent of a shelf of books. Although the states seem to be a
bit ambivalent about this, the federal government clearly doesn’t want
to interfere and put any kind of taxes on digital activity; so it seems
like this won’t be an issue for years to come. But clearly, it going to
be an important –
KATHERINE McNAMARA: It won’t be important till
somebody’s ox is gored. Now, whose ox is going to be gored?
CALVIN REID: The distributor, here, is looking
kind of shaky.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Unless it becomes the first
to handle the print-on-demand machine.
CALVIN REID: And that’s what you see happening
already: the distributors moving to become digital middle-men just as they
were the freight and warehousing middle-men in the past. You see it with
Ingram and Lightning Source, and you see other digital suppliers of
e-books, like NetLibrary and Versaware, positioning themselves. NetLibrary
is interesting because they started out as a wholesaler of e-books to
libraries, offering electronic texts through on-line accounts. Now they
are re-positioning themselves as an e-book distributor, an e-book
KATHERINE McNAMARA: And they’re doing it, at
least in their ads in PW, handsomely and
smartly, because of the way the ads look. They look like hand-set type on
CALVIN REID: Yes, their new ads very cleverly
exploit, and try to create a connection between, off-set printing and the
new media. It is a very good ad campaign.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: These marvelous machines will
get smaller and more efficient, and will become like small printers or
copiers, I suppose. What would this mean, then, for distributing across
national boundaries? What would it mean for distributing overseas? I put
that question to a couple of small literary publishers: what would it be
like if your books could be produced in, say, Paris as easily and quickly
as in, say, St. Paul, through print on demand?
CALVIN REID: Well, rights are going to become
more and more for language only, and not territorial. I think there will
be English-language rights, French-language rights, and so on. No doubt
there will be more complicated arrangements. But already we’re facing
this issue on the web. You can buy a book anywhere in the world now, from
anywhere in the world you happen to be. Amazon has run up against that
KATHERINE McNAMARA: And leaped it.
CALVIN REID: What we’re seeing more of in
Britain and the U. S. is simultaneous publication.
We saw it with the HARRY POTTER phenomenon: if
people want the book, they’re going to find the book; they can buy it
anywhere from anywhere in the world. Other people have said this; I’m
not an expert on rights. This pertains to the bigger books. For the
smaller books, I don’t know how it’s going to work out. Ultimately, I
do think access will be standard. It will be possible for you to buy a
book, in any language, from wherever you happen to be, either over the web
from some central place, or manufactured there on the spot.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What’s happening in rights
CALVIN REID: Actually, one of the three sites
devoted to rights — Rightscenter.com, Rightsworld.com, and Subrights.com
— has just closed; it was called Subrights.com. As in every other part
of the publishing industry, technology is transforming how we’re likely
to be doing business in the future. The offering and the sale of rights,
right now, is a big focus. There now seem to be two significant sites that
allow you to post properties for everything from the primary rights sale
to the secondary and serial rights sale, digitally, and create and attract
an on-line market. You can allow agents and editors and magazine editors
to log in, see what’s for sale, and make an offer on line.
Subrights.com was just what its name says, for
properties that already had a primary rights sale. Another organization,
Rightscenter.com, really has gone to elaborate lengths to re-create the
buying and selling protocols. They’ve set up a site so that, once you’re
a member, you can upload graphics, manuscripts, you can conduct threaded
e-mail negotiations –
KATHERINE McNAMARA: “Threaded e-mail
CALVIN REID: In other words, the site has what
its consultant says are secure and threaded e-mail conversations between
buyers and sellers, so you can keep a record of all of your correspondence
back and forth. The system tracks it for you, and you can refer to it at
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Does that, in effect, replace
CALVIN REID: It’s not going to replace agents.
It gives agents a place to post work, see what people are buying. The only
thing it’s trying to replace is the need for having to send out,
physically, a manuscript to one person or five people. Instead, you can
up-load the manuscript to the site, with varying levels of access
available. You can conduct auctions, you can offer it only to certain
parties, you can control the access to it. It’s, perhaps, replacing the
telephone, or the post office.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I read that Random House has
offered a new structure of royalties for e-books.
CALVIN REID: This has been a long-running
conflict between authors and agents and publishers. No one really knows,
yet, what the revenue will be. This, also, is part of the paradox of
e-publishing. Everyone’s desperate to get e-rights, and no one knows
quite what they mean. There’s no significant market now, so publishers
have been reluctant to give up the rights, even if they don’t know quite
what they’re going to do with them. They just know that, at some point,
they’re going to be valuable.
Part of the conflict has been that publishers want to
look at electronic rights as part of a royalty, and to pay a royalty.
Authors and agents say, No, no, no, this is a different form, it’s a
sub-right sale, so it should be fifty-fifty.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: That’s what Random House
has agreed to. Is that how audio books are structured, as sub-rights?
CALVIN REID: That’s my understanding.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I ask because it’s often
held that e-books are cheaper to produce than paper books: to produce
physically, that is. I’m thinking of the front-work, the reading, the
editing, the persuading of staff, the wooing of the author, the
formatting, all of which costs the same, in talent, time, and money, no
matter the final form in which the book appears.
CALVIN REID: I am speaking of manufacturing.
E-books are easier to manufacture, because they are digital. The first
book and the twenty-thousandth book will cost the same thing to produce.
BOOKS AND THE CULTURE OF THE WEB
Trade Publishers and the Culture of the
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Well, then, what publishers
do you know of who produce e-books but act in every other way like
CALVIN REID: Publishers are waking up and
realizing they’ve got to train themselves and their organizations for an
entirely different era. It doesn’t mean that they won’t be doing books
the way they’ve done them for a hundred years. It does mean that they
have to get their organizations ready for the next hundred years. Digital
publishing will be a very different environment, not only for how books
are manufactured, but how manuscripts are acquired, how writers are
nurtured. Warner Books, part of Time-Warner, is probably one of the more
advanced publisher. Just this past year they launched the Ipublish.com
site. What this site plans to do is to offer e-book versions of Warner
Books trade books; but it also plans to solicit manuscripts and to develop
writers in a way that has been going on on the web for many years. All
around the web are writer communities, and what goes on there is this:
writers show up, they talk to their fellow writers, they post samples of
their work, get feedback – and they write!
Warner gets it, in a sense. They’re planning to
set up a situation that creates a writers’ community, solicits writers,
asks them to post their material. The group critiques the work and decides
on the level of quality that any particular writer achieves. Because of
this, what you’re going to see, I think, is manuscripts that came in
over the digital transom moving into the publishing company at large and
being produced in a variety of ways: in a print-on-demand edition, or as a
traditional book, or, maybe, just as an e-book. These are the kinds of
changes that are coming over publishers.
There is a whole contingent of print-publishing people
who think that this notion of people submitting manuscripts over the web
means a lot of trash coming in; but as we all know, the most famous
publishers in the world publish bad books.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Sometimes they publish the
very best of the bad.
CALVIN REID: Exactly. They also publish good
books; but there is an awful lot of bad books published every year. There
seems to be this notion that, somehow, bad books only come from the
internet. They come from all over, actually. And for all sorts of reasons,
publishers miss out on, and don’t publish, books that are very good. To
assume that there aren’t books out in the aether that are publishable,
saleable, and even a cut above that, literary, is, I think, wrong.
Ipublish.com is an effort by a traditional, giant trade publisher to mimic
what happens on the web in on-line writer communities. And this is to
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Do you know book editors who
are learning to edit digitally? Have you talked to any of them?
CALVIN REID: I haven’t; but the computer has
made inroads into traditional publishing. I’m sure there are a great
number of writers who turn in manuscripts on paper, and editors who edit
on paper, but I think you’ll find in most publishing houses, more and
more, that among the writers there’s a baseline of technical competence.
People are turning in their books on disk, or they’re keeping a digital
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Oh, it’s wonderful for a
writer to be able to turn in the manuscript on disk and let the publisher
print it out.
CALVIN REID: I think that’s what you’re
seeing. And there is another level, of paperless editing, that you’re
going to start seeing at places like Ipublish.com. You’re also seeing it
at print-on-demand publishers. Print-on-demand publishing is the ability
to store digital copy of a book and print it out after someone has paid
for the copy. This technology is going to totally revolutionize
publishing. It is beginning to transform the landscape, as you see with
companies like iUniverse.com and Xlibris. They are print-on-demand firms.
They’ve uncovered the fact that there is an enormous number of people
out there who want to write books. They would be called vanity publishers.
If you pay them a fee they will print your book. With the technology, they’ve
slashed the cost. You can get a book published now for ninety-nine
dollars. Xlibris will publish it for free. Now, you don’t have any say
over what the book looks like; and they have a sliding scale of prices,
depending on how much customized attention your manuscript gets, but at
Xlibris you can give them a digital file and they’ll publish your book
as print on demand. You have to buy a certain number of copies, and it’s
unlikely that anybody else is going to buy your book. However, both of
these companies are aware that they can attract competent authors, such as
those who have books out of print, or professionals giving seminars. There
is a level of writers they can support and whose books they can make
available for a nominal fee.
We’re sitting on the threshold of an explosion of
books. Unbelievable numbers of books are going to flood the market. That’s
why I don’t believe that bookstores are going to disappear. I think we’re
going to need as many outlets for books as we can get, because we’re
sailing on an ocean of books. Not just the front-list titles, but this
enormous sea of out-of-print books that print on demand holds promise of.
Print on demand is going to transform all of it.
Encryption, Security, and Copyright
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Would you talk about
CALVIN REID: Freenet.net was involved in the
controversy over peer-to-peer file-sharing, meaning Napster, for sharing MP3
files of music. Obviously, the recording industry feels that is a
copyright infringement, and they’re probably right. But the fact of the
matter is, much like the VCR technology which scared
the movie people, they’re trying to close the barn door after the cash
cows have gone out.
But you ought to know, also, about the Electronic
Frontier Foundation. It’s run by a guy named John Perry Barlow, and it
got me interested in thinking about how different the web is from the real
world. Barlow, who was also a songwriter for the Grateful dead, uses their
example – the Dead let people make bootleg tapes of their live concerts
– to point to the notion that information wants to be free. By condoning
bootleg live recordings by fans, the Dead only increased the sales of
their studio recordings, the live legit recordings, and increased
the fanatical devotion of their fans. In other words, giving music away
made them rich, or richer.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: I asked, too, because I’m
curious about why the difference in attitude exists between New York trade
publishers and small publishers, about publishing on the web – I mean at
least, about the sort of publishing I do on the web, the classic small
literary journal. Independent publishers don’t set up a legal barrier.
On the other hand, people in New York publishing give a stock response,
not based on personal knowledge. It’s the on dit, it’s what
everyone says, and it is this: “Oh, well, nothing’s secure on the
internet.” And yet, it always seemed to me that somebody “taking it
off the web” isn’t doing anything different than somebody Xeroxing –
CALVIN REID: – which is done all the time. I
agree. There is, and has been, I think, a kind of copyright hysteria in
the land. Part of it is understandable. I don’t think it’s just the
publishers; on the writer’s side, and they have their own attorneys,
there is an equal hysteria. The web was originally a grass-roots medium,
and corporate entities don’t have a lot of sympathy for grass-roots
sensibilities. Corporations want control; and while they have the illusion
of control with Xeroxing and paper, the fantasy is – because
technically, it’s true – that it’s easy to take a file of a book and
spread it around the globe.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Is that done? I don’t think
it’s done often.
CALVIN REID: It’s rarely done. There have been
websites, apparently, recently found, that have unauthorized books
available for download. They were shut down. How many people downloaded
these files? I’m sure there were some, but, I don’t think there are
that many people interested in downloading a file the size of a novel.
From a pirate’s site nobody knows whether they’re picking up virus –
I mean, sure, anybody wants a file with a couple of chapters. How much
different is that from Xeroxing some great story in The New Yorker
that you saw and passed around?
KATHERINE McNAMARA: But copyright isn’t just
about payment: copyright is about who owns the text, and then, who is
authorized to publish it. I keep thinking I must be missing something, in
this discussion. Well, what I’m missing, of course, is that copyright is
associated with the buying and selling of rights.
CALVIN REID: Right; but it’s far more than
that. It’s hard to talk about this in the publishing industry without
sounding irresponsible. Copyright is meant to give the owner of the
copyright a fair payment, but, ultimately, copyright is meant to increase
the public good.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: The British publishers put on
their copyright page a statement I like very much: “The author assumes
the right to be known as the moral author of this work.” It seems to me
that the weight of the copyright lies there: the author of this
work is the one who has the right to be known as the author of this work.
If that author then sells rights to have the book reproduced or published
– ”made known,” as the late Marion Boyars used to say – in various
formats, that’s an intricately associated right; but it isn’t the only
CALVIN REID: I agree, although “moral rights”
has a different legal connotation in Europe than it does here in the
States; in fact, it’s a concept that doesn’t really exist in U.
S. copyright law. As I understand it, moral rights are interpreted
far more legalistically in Europe – I believe France has a similar law,
for instance – than they are in the States. Don’t quote me on this,
but I do believe that “moral rights,” in Europe, would prevent you
from changing a book, say, adapting it into a movie, in ways that are
changed all the time in the U. S. In the ’80s,
I wrote often about this. When the Digital Millennium Act was being
passed, I wrote about that, too. There was an event called the WIPO
conference – the World Intellectual Property Organization – where
there was a lot of discussion about moral rights and traditional American
copyright. There is distinction between the way Europe looks at copyright,
and the way Americans look at it.
Copyright is going to remain an issue for a long time.
It has moral implications, but it’s a legal pact. Lawyers want something
that doesn’t really exist in the digital age, and that’s certainty.
The fact of the matter is, there is no practical certainty, but there is a
kind of – what to call it? – a certain operational reality of
cyberspace. Is it possible to crack any encryption? Yes.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Yes.
CALVIN REID: There is no such thing as “bomb-proof”
encryption. Is it likely that someone is going to set up a pirating
website? Not necessarily. Could it happen to Stephen King? Maybe it’s
more likely to happen to Stephen King than to even a mid-list author. But
we can also argue about whether people are so-called “stealing” by
copying, and passing around a story by Stephen King. We could even argue,
“So what?” Can we actually come up with a measured way that he’s
being hurt? Does it not feed into his popularity, and generate even more
sales and interest in Stephen King?
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Would it, though, for the
CALVIN REID: The mid-list author might find
readers he never would have had otherwise.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: And he might not have any
less money than he had before –
CALVIN REID: More than likely, he’ll have a lot
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Possibly.
CALVIN REID: Possibly.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: If there’s money
involved. But there certainly is no thought of, or speech about, or
presumption of, plagiarism. The great discussion of copyright in the
digital age isn’t about protection against plagiarism, it’s about who’s
not going to make money.
CALVIN REID: It’s property rights. It comes
down to whether you’re taking something. But in the information age –
this sounds like a cliché –it becomes much more difficult to decide
whether the taking is not to your advantage. For some cybervisionary to
come and say (snap of fingers), “You’re better off giving it
all away,” well, that suggestion falls on deaf ears. But, you know, we
really don’t know. If you look at how information travels in cyberspace,
I think it’s difficult to say that these fears about stolen texts are
necessarily grounded. If we’re talking about movies, or music, perhaps
it’s different. Perhaps. It’s easy for me to say; it’s not my
intellectual property that’s out there.
On the other hand, interesting enough, Jonathan Tasini,
who’s the president of the National Writers Union, is the lead plaintiff
in a suit against The New York Times and other big media companies,
about their taking free-lance writers’ works and “re-purposing” them
for digital release. When they were planning that suit, a Writers Union
lawyer came to me and showed me a stack of citations of my articles about
contemporary art, that were in a database. Anybody could go to this
website database and get a copy of them. They were articles from Art in
America. I had no idea that they were there and were being re-sold.
Now, to me, this is not the same thing as some lone pirate passing things
around. This is a business set up to re-sell work, and it calls itself a
KATHERINE McNAMARA: They’ve paid you for one
thing, and then they’re making money by using it in another way. And you’re
not getting a residuary.
CALVIN REID: Yeah, I’m not getting anything,
and somebody’s making money from my work. To me, that’s a completely
different set-up than people finding my work on the web and copying it for
themselves, circulating it, and saying, “You know, I read this guy and I
really liked his stuff, and you should read it, too.” I don’t know
what the implications are. It would be great if, every time someone copied
a piece I wrote, they paid me something. Does copyright mean that? I don’t
And as we get deeper into a digital world, I think that
authors and, I hope, at some point, publishers, will become more familiar
with this medium, and will think about more flexible ways of both
receiving payment and allowing the medium to do what it does best, which
is, circulate material.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What a nice thought: to think
of it as an analogy, perhaps, of a circulating library.
CALVIN REID: You know, it’s so easy to do that.
It’s going to become very difficult to protect your content, unless you
do not show it to anyone at all! I mean that seriously. As a society, we’re
going to become more literate in technology and more and more virtuosic in
it. Already, I think, programming is a sub-form of literature. To be able
to write these programs, and the functions they perform, is nuanced and
detailed and obsessive and graceful; they’re virtually languages in
themselves. More and more, people are going to have the skills, really, to
take anything they want, particularly when there is no heavy penalty for
doing it. They’re not necessarily going to go into the Pentagon and
crack their computers, but if they want to see a book or a novel, it’s
very likely that the encryption closing it may not hold up.
I don’t think, at the same time, that that means
people are going to be circulating things all over the web. I don’t know
this; maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. But I think we’re going to
have to create other ways of receiving payment than the scarcity model:
that is, if you don’t pay, you don’t get. We’re going to have to
come up with something else. Various things have been offered; the
shareware model, which works reasonably well.
CULTURE, AND THE CULTURE OF THE WEB
The Innovators, Out on the Fringe,
KATHERINE McNAMARA: We’ve been talking about
all this money, which is not an interesting subject, and technology, which
also is less interesting in itself, from my point of view. Let’s talk
about your interest in publishing “out on the fringe,” serious,
noteworthy publishing we ought to know about.
CALVIN REID: Let me say, first, that I found out
that small literary publishers are not as involved in e-publishing as
bigger publishers. There are some: in particular, Online Originals.
Onlineoriginals.com, is a British-based, front-line publisher that began
by sending out its books as unencrypted e-book files.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What does that mean?
CALVIN REID: They sent the books as unencrypted
attachments. You bought the book, for a nominal fee, something like four
to six dollars, and you could pass it on to someone else. When I asked the
publisher, David Gettman, about this, he said he didn’t worry about
unencryption, because most people aren’t interested in getting an
unsolicited, massive, file that would take up space on their hard drive.
He, and his authors, seemed to be fairly unconcerned about someone getting
a book and not paying for it. They felt that when e-book files were passed
on, this just brought more attention to the website, and brought people
back to look at the books, and to buy books. They only publish e-books. I
see now, by the way, that they offer a variety of formats, including pdf,
Rocket eBooks and Microsoft Reader.
They also did a book that was nominated for the Booker
Prize: THE ANGELS OF RUSSIA, by Patricia le Roy.
There are a number of literary publishers using the web
to promote their books, as most publishers do. There is an enormous amount
of poetry on the web, in a variety of ways: full texts, discussions,
message books. It’s pretty easy to go to Google and type in “poetry”
and find hundreds of sites. As far as I’m concerned, anything you read
on the screen is an e-book. Whether you download it to your hard drive or
log on to it on-line, you’re reading an e-book. If you just go by “poetry,”
there is an enormous amount of e-book publishing going on.
Besides Online Originals, there is a young, small
publisher by the name of Rattapallax that you should know about.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Oh, yes, I heard about them
recently at CLMP (Council of Literary Magazines and
Presses). You chaired a panel on electronic publishing for them, and the
publisher of Rattapallax was on the panel. He caught their attention. He
caught mine when e-mail from him arrived announcing a conference on world
poetry he is helping to organize at the U. N.
CALVIN REID: His name is Ram Devineni. He’s
doing quite a few things at once. He wanted to show small presses that
they can do this formatting themselves. He gave a demonstration showing
how you could turn a Word document into a Rocket eBook-format e-book, in
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Rather like how you write a
pdf, I’d bet. You format your file, drop it on the pdf icon, and the
software works like a printer, except that it’s working digitally.
CALVIN REID: Yes, and he pointed this out,
because for many small publishers, hiring someone like Versaware to
convert their files is out of the question, financially. So, that is one
site I know of publishing poetry. They also publish paper books and some CD-ROMs;
in particular, they put out books with CD-ROMs of
the poets reading their own work. Or, you can download the text and buy it
There is an interesting little literary magazine called Archipelago,
as well, that’s right on the cutting edge. You may have heard of it.
International Publishing, Electronically
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What about international
publishers? I read in PW (“New French
E-book Firm, Olympio.com, Formed,” November 27, 2000)
for instance, about a French publisher who has just gone to e-books. The
company is called Olympio.com, and the publisher is offering two sorts of
lists: vanity books, published and downloaded for free, and regular books,
chosen, edited, published in paper or e-book format, and sold to readers.
CALVIN REID: Well, Online Originals is a British
publisher. There a European company called Zéro Heurs. They have a weird URL,
something like 00h00.com. Go to Google; Google can
find anything. I don’t know much about them, but they’re supposed to
be pretty much ahead of everyone else in France. They’ve just been
acquired by Gemstar.
I mentioned, also, a site that does much the same as
Bookface.com does, but pre-dates it, is Bibliobytes. Now, again, it’s
mostly commercial fiction and non-fiction, but it was a very early on-line
digital publisher that offered downloadable texts. Then it switched to
totally free access supported by advertising. And the publisher said, “I’m
paying royalties to people that I never paid any royalties to before.”
He said he’s had more success, made more money, giving things away, than
he did when he was trying to sell things.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: So his success comes from
CALVIN REID: Right, his money comes from
KATHERINE McNAMARA: That goes back to the
original notion about how anybody was going to make money on the web,
CALVIN REID: Well, it certainly goes back to the
notion that information on the web is not only wanted to be free, but is
expected to be free.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: And people will put up with
advertising to get what’s offered.
CALVIN REID: People will put up with advertising,
if they can get what they want. If you can give things away on the web,
you can sell more things in the real world. It’s counterintuitive, but
it seems to be true.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: A little footnote: how can
Google does what it does so swiftly, elegantly, and without advertising?
CALVIN REID: Haven’t the foggiest idea. There
was a long article in The New Yorker that purported to explain
that. I read it, and I still didn’t understand it. But it works.
A House Full of Books
KATHERINE McNAMARA: May I ask you some things
about your own background? You’re a reader, but you’re also a visual
artist. Do you remember when you started reading? What did you read when
you thought of yourself as a serious reader, or at least, as a kid who
couldn’t put a book down?
CALVIN REID: Well, I grew up in a house full of
books. My mother read everything. She was a promiscuous reader. Maybe you
shouldn’t put it that way, but she read everything from total trash to
literature. I mean, around the house was James Baldwin one week, Sidney
Sheldon the next. There were always books everywhere. I don’t remember not
being interested in reading, I just remember becoming more and more
interested in it as I got older. I can remember not having anything to do
in the summer as a really young kid, and walking over to the Mt. Pleasant
library, in Washington, D.C., in the northwest, and
spending the day there. I was just a sports nut. I was a little kid
reading any kind of sports book, you name it. And comics, of course.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Why “of course”? I know
that you have a strong interest in comics, in graphic novels. Would you
say more about that, especially if you know of anything on the web?
CALVIN REID: Well, I mean, there’s so much
comics on the web I wouldn’t even know where to start. Go to Google and
put “comics” in, and you’ll get it all, but you can start with
Fantographics.com. Not too many adolescent boys of my generation weren’t
interested in comics, not in my neighborhood, anyway. The combination of
really dynamic drawing and power fantasies was just irresistible to a
young boy. Not that girls don’t read comics too, but it was primarily
boys when I was doing it. Some girls were reading – how can I describe
them? – girl comics: you know, love comics, romance comics, that sort of
thing. I remember being fascinated by the pictures and these stories about
powerful people overcoming powerful odds. When you’re a teenager, or
younger, that’s pretty important. I think what happens is, kids being
powerless, this fantasy world of unlimited power is irresistible.
So, yes, I had this two-track thing, of comics on the
one hand, and on the other, prose literature, that kept building. I was
lucky enough to go to a junior high school that loaded us up with reading
assignments. I read the usual stuff: Shakespeare, and then American
classics. I read THE VIRGINIAN, SEVENTEEN, WINESBURG, OHIO….
By the time I was in high school, I was kind of a self-starter. I read
widely and randomly, on virtually any subject, with my core reading
interest being sports, and more sports. But by high school, I was also
reading sociological things. I was entering into my political phase. I
remember reading, early on, CRISIS IN BLACK AND WHITE.
It was an interesting look at the black urban unrest in the ’60s.
I remember that book in particular because, by the time I was in high
school, I was in one of those help-a-ghetto-kid programs. We got to spend
the summer on the Georgetown University campus and live in the dorms, so
it was really cool. We took some classes, and we could goof off as much as
we wanted. I started realizing, then, that reading these books could
really be a big help. We were in this sort of discussion with these
educators who came from the outside, and for some reason, we got into a
talk about community organizers. A huge part of CRISIS IN
BLACK AND WHITE is about this famous lefty community organizer in
Chicago, a guy named Saul Alinsky.
KATHERINE McNAMARA Oh, yes. I remember him.
CALVIN REID: Very famous guy. And I recall myself
standing up and talking, even knowledgeably, about Saul Alinsky to all
these white guys who were sitting there looking at this black teenaged
kid. And I was bantering on and on about Saul Alinsky. They seemed agog at
the fact that I even knew who Saul Alinsky was. I registered that, I said,
“Aha, this reading can come in handy.” It was something I’ll never
forget, I guess: the power of reading came in handy. I could speak with
them point for point on anything they could talk about. I kind of knew
already, but that clued me in to the power of books.
KATHERINE McNAMARA That’s a nice story.
CALVIN REID: But then, after that, I was always
interesting in reading, both totally recreational stuff and really
KATHERINE McNAMARA: What books would you consider
a foundation: books you lean into, or rest on?
CALVIN REID: A whole range of books comes to
mind. I’ll just go through them. Most American black writers, the
classic ones: Langston Hughes’s autobiography I WONDER AS
I WANDER. Obviously, Richard Wright, Baldwin. The early Toni
Morrison, more than the late ones: THE BLUEST EYE; SULA. Those
are great books.
KATHERINE McNAMARA I remember reading SULA,
a long time ago, in Paris. There is a scene in it that I will never
CALVIN REID: Yes; yeah. I know how that is. For
me, too. – There is a gigantic sociological book, THE
CRISIS OF THE NEGRO INTELLECTUAL, by Harold Cruse, that, for me,
was a really important book. It’s a hundred-year examination of black
intellectuals. It illuminated so many things I didn’t know anything
about, going back to Martin Delaney in the nineteenth century.
KATHERINE McNAMARA Who was Martin Delaney?
CALVIN REID: Martin R. Delaney was a freedman who
wrote a number of books oriented toward black people withdrawing from this
attempt to be part of America, and building their own thing. He was a kind
of early black nationalist.
Later on, for some reason I got really interested in the
Jewish American novelists, Bellow and Philip Roth, in particular. THE
ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH; HERZOG; just about everything Roth
wrote. For some reason, I was totally into that guy, including some of his
more obscure books, like LETTING GO. I got into a
Henry James thing. I particularly liked RODERICK HUDSON,
a rather obscure James; I think it was his first novel.
What else was I reading? The African novelists; this was
even before the Jewish American novelists. THE BEAUTIFUL
ONES ARE NOT YET BORN was by a Ghanaian, Ayi Kwei Armah. Achebe, of
course: THINGS FALL APART. Wolé Soyinka’s THE
INTERPRETERS, which is a really terrific post-colonial novel.
I think I have an eclectic taste, I like the whole
Modernist range: Joyce, Céline, Bukowsky; and a whole range of black
writers I’m leaving out here, John Williams in particular. And others.
KATHERINE McNAMARA I don’t know John Williams’s
CALVIN REID: He’s a kind of contemporary
master. His book CAPTAIN BLACKMAN has been reissued,
I think by Graywolf Press, and is one I haven’t read, actually.
His most famous book is THE MAN WHO CRIED ‘I AM’.
It was a best seller, I think in the ’70s. There
is that series called Old School Books that was coming out a while ago. It
was this unusual collection of pulp literary classics, black crime fiction
that seemed a cut above the usual. John Williams’s first book, THE
ANGRY ONES, is part of that, and it’s a delightful novel, an
amazing portrait of New York in the late 1950s.
Norton is the publisher of the series. I could go on and on, but I’ll
say one more thing: on the kid end, the boys’ baseball novels by a guy
named John R. Tunis, who wrote books like THE KID FROM
TOMPKINSVILLE. I used to devour these things. I would go to the
library and get them. In fact, somebody put out a new edition of them, and
I snatched them up. There are six or seven in the series; they’re all
about a country kid who comes to New York and plays for the Brooklyn team
and wins the ballgame in the bottom of the ninth, but I loved that stuff.
And I should say what I think are among the great, comic, baseball novels ever
written. The first one in the series is my favorite: THE
SOUTHPAW. But the whole series is my favorite: BANG
THE DRUM SLOWLY; TICKET FOR A SEAMSTITCH; and IT
LOOKED LIKE FOREVER. This quartet follows the mythical baseball
figure and writer Henry Wiggins, who is supposedly writing this book, with
the help of Mark Harris, and who is otherwise known as “Author.”
KATHERINE McNAMARA Oh, how lovely.
CALVIN REID: I really do think these four are the
funniest, most charming baseball books I’ve ever read. That would
complete my off-the-cuff reading list. We haven’t even listed graphic
KATHERINE McNAMARA We haven’t. Isn’t it worth
doing? Graphic novels are comics for grownups, in a way, although comics
are comics for grownups, too.
CALVIN REID: They can be. Fortunately, when you
send books to people, they don’t assume the books are about one thing;
but most people assume that comics are about one thing. But, you know,
comics and graphic novels are just books, and there is a whole range of
them, about different kinds of things. I’ve been fascinated by more
literary graphic novels, and completely comic graphic novels, as well.
KATHERINE McNAMARA Would you tell us what we
ought to look at?
CALVIN REID: The most obvious one is MAUS
[by Art Spiegelman]; that’s clear. Most recently, there’s a
book called FROM HELL, by Alan Moore and Eddie
Campbell. JIMMY CORRIGAN, by Chris Ware.
KATHERINE McNAMARA His name is so beautifully
hidden in that amazing book. The detail of it, and the pathos.
CALVIN REID: It is, isn’t it? I’d also put
another, an obscure, graphic novel called DAVID CHELSEA IN
KATHERINE McNAMARA What a good title.
CALVIN REID: It is, and it’s comic book about
the misadventures in love of a guy I know: I actually know David Chelsea.
He is the author and an extremely talented writer and illustrator. The
book is out of print. He’s a good guy and very talented. I don’t think
he’s doing any graphic novels now; it just doesn’t pay. I think he’s
making money doing newspaper illustrations.
KATHERINE McNAMARA What are you watching on the
CALVIN REID: Flash animation. I think it’s
cool. As the bandwidth gets better, there’s a great possibility there
for storytelling. Sites like Icebox, MediaTrip.com, Urban Entertainment.
Some of these are better than others, with animated, on-going stories,
Everything Is Going to Change
KATHERINE McNAMARA What’s the nature of digital
publishing, do you think?
CALVIN REID: Everything is going to change.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: That is a good last line:
Everything is going to change.
CALVIN REID: Everything is going to change. We
haven’t even begun to see the change, really, I don’t think. None of
this means that print is going away. It just means that there are going to
be more things to read, in more forms; and you can read in whatever way
you choose to do it. How the business part is done will be worked out and
fought over, and heads will knock. But, you know, all the arguments and
all the lawyers are going to have to chase the medium. That’s what’s
going to happen. They’re going to have to scurry to come up with ways to
make it work in the new environment. Right now, everyone’s trying to
make the environment work on the old model, and it’s not going to
happen. They’re going to have to come up with something else.
KATHERINE McNAMARA: Cool.
1It’s generally agreed that the web was
organized in 1989, at CERN, in Switzerland. The man credited with devising
it is Tim Berners-Lee, an English physicist who, I’ll note, has
deliberately taken no commercial benefit from the results of his work,
following the old ethic that knowledge is for mutual benefit. On a site
maintained by Larry Zeltser (www.zeltser.com),
at the University of Pennsylvania, which offers a history of the web, I
read that “CERN was originally named after its founding body, the ‘Conseil
Européen pour la Récherche Nucléaire,’ and is now called ‘'European
Laboratory for Particle Physics.’” But I don’t know if we should
think the web was part of a military-industrial complex. It was for the
free dissemination of information, but with an important restriction. As
Zeltzer wrote: “The WWW project is based on the principle of universal
readership: ‘if information is available, then any (authorized) person
should be able to access it from anywhere in the world.’” We’ve gone
beyond that idea of “authorized” readership now, I think.-KM
2The “graphical web” is said to have been launched by the
physicist Larry Smarr, director of the National Center for Supercomputing
Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and
director of the National Computational Science Alliance. He devised
“Mosaic,” the “graphical browser – marketed as the Netscape
Navigator and Internet Explorer – that opened the Net to the masses.”
(John Markoff, “The Soul of the Ultimate Machine,” The New York
Times, December 10, 2000) There are many serious websites offering
writings and comments by Dr. Smaarr.
245 W. 17th St.
New York NY 10011
Authors and Books mentioned:
Chinua Achebe, THINGS FALL APART
Mark Amerika, THE KAFKA DIARIES,
Sherwood Anderson, WINESBURG, OHIO
Ayi Kwei Armah, THE BEAUTIFUL ONES ARE
NOT YET BORN
James Baldwin, GO TELL IT ON THE
MOUNTAIN; THE FIRE NEXT TIME; GOING TO MEET THE MAN;
NOTES OF A NATIVE SON
Saul Bellow, THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE
MARCH; HERZOG; MR. SAMMLER’S PLANET; HUMBOLDT’S
GIFT; THE VICTIM; MORE DIE OF HEARTBREAK;
THE DEAN’S DECEMBER; RAVELSTEIN; et al.
Charles Bukowsky BARFLY; WOMEN; THE MOST
BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN TOWN
Louis-Ferdinand Céline JOURNEY TO THE
END OF THE NIGHT; DEATH ON THE INSTALLMENT PLAN (tr.
David Chelsea, DAVID CHELSEA IN LOVE
Julio Cortázer HOPSCOTCH (tr. Gregory
Harold Cruse, THE CRISIS OF THE NEGRO
Mark Harris, THE SOUTHPAW; BANG THE DRUM
SLOWLY; TICKET FOR A SEAMSTITCH;
IT LOOKED LIKE FOREVER
Langston Hughes, I WONDER AS I WANDER
Henry James, RODERICK HUDSON
James Joyce THE DUBLINERS; PORTRAIT OF
THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN; FINNEGANS WAKE;
Nan McCarthy, CHAT http://www.rainwater.com
Toni Morrison, THE BLUEST EYE; SULA
Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, FROM HELL
Scott Rettberg, THE UNKNOWN http://www.unknownhypertext.com/default.html
Philip Roth, LETTING GO; GOODBYE,
COLUMBUS; THE COUNTERLIFE; THE GHOST WRITER; MY LIFE
AS A MAN; PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT;
ZUCKERMAN UNBOUND; THE HUMAN STAIN; et al.
Patricia le Roy, THE ANGELS OF RUSSIA
Sidney Sheldon, BLOODLINE; MASTER OF THE
GAME; WINDMILL OF THE GODS; etc.
Charles E. Silberman, CRISIS IN BLACK AND
Wolé Soyinka, THE INTERPRETERS
Art Spiegelman, MAUS
Booth Tarkington, SEVENTEEN
John R. Tunis, THE KID FROM TOMPKINSVILLE
Chris Ware, JIMMY CORRIGAN
Evelyn Waugh, THE COLLECTED STORIES OF
John Williams, CAPTAIN BLACKMAN; THE MAN
WHO CRIED ‘I AM’; THE ANGRY ONES
Owen Wister, THE VIRGINIAN
Richard Wright, BLACK BOY; NATIVE SON;
AMERICAN HUNGER; WHITE MAN, LISTEN!; et al.
E-book publishers and sellers
Audible Books http://www.audible.com/huffman/store/welcome.jsp
– For PCs only
Audio Highways http://www.audiohighways.com
First Books http://firstbooks.com/
Hardshell Word Factory http://www.hardshell.com/
Incommunicado Press “The Last Hope for
American Publishing” http://www.onecity.com/incom/
Salon Audio http://www.salon.com/audio/index.html
Formats and Devices mentioned:
Adobe Acrobat http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/
Beta Books http://www.books.mcgraw-hill.com/betabooks/
Digital Goods http://www.digitalgoods.com
Gemstar, Rocket eBook http://www.ebook-gemstar.com/index.asp
Handspring Visor http://www.handspring.com/
Microsoft Reader http://www.microsoft.com/reader/
– For PCs only
O’Reilly Associates http://www.oreilly.com
Peanut Press http://www.peanutpress.com/index.cgi/035104246-56299-7227
Rocket eBook http://www.softbook.com/
AltX Publishing Network/Mark Amerika http://www.altx.com/index2.html
Black Ice http://www.altx.com/profiles/
Coffeehouse Press http://www.coffeehousepress.org
Dialog Among Civilizations through Poetry
Electronic Text Center, University of
Graywolf Press http://www.graywolfpress.org
Incommunicado Press http://www.onecity.com/incom/
Milkweed Editions http://www.milkweed.org
Modern Library (e-books) http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/
Four Walls Eight Windows http://www.fourwallseightwindows.com/
Online Originals http://www.onlineoriginals.com/
Rainwater Press http://www.rainwater.com
Zéro heures http://www.00h00.com
Weekly Online http://www.publishersweekly.com/
The New York Times on the Web http://www.nytimes.com/
Organizations and Information:
Academy of American Poets http://www.poets.org/index.cfm
Book Industry Study Group (BISG) http://www.bisg.org/
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Digital Millennium Copyright Act http://www.ala.org/washoff/dmguide.html
Electronic Frontier Foundation http://www.eff.org/
Electronic Literature Organization http://www.eliterature.org/index2.html
National Writers Union http://www.nwu.org/
Tasini v. New York Times http://www.nwu.org/tvt/tvthome.htm
World Intellectual Property Organization http://www.wipo.org/
Zeltser’s history of the development of
the web http://www.zeltser.com/WWW/#Origins_WWW
Print on Demand:
Consortium Book Distributors http://www.cbsd.com/pubs.cfm
Follett College Bookstores www.fheg.follett.com
Lightning Source http://www.lightningprint.com/intro.html
See also, “Institutional Memory,”
A Conversation with Marion
Vol. 1 No. 3
A Conversation with Cornelia and Michael Bessie, Vol. 1
No. 4 and Vol. 2, No. 1
A Conversation with William
Strachan, Vol. 2, No. 4
A Conversation with Samuel H.
Vaughan, Vol. 3, No. 2
Reminiscence: Lee Goerner
(1947-1995), Vol. 3, No. 3
A Conversation with Odile
Hellier, Vol. 4, No. 1