Saturday, September 13, 2003

Falling a very long way....

As interesting as the micropayments side of things is what Cory Doctorow is doing with his books, viz., putting up nicely designed electronic versions of the book as the print one comes out, figuring, probably correctly, that the overall effect in terms of people knowing who Cory is, and reading his books, and passing things on, is probably more than worth it.

One of the things that helps this work is that the stories are really good. is the place to go...

In some ways the most interesting comment Cory makes (and the one that cuts, for me, to the heart of the whole micropayment thing) is the last:

Q: Can't I just send some money to you by PayPal instead of buying the book?

A: You don't have to buy the book, but I'm not interested in tipjar payments. I'm not doing this to compete with my publisher. If you read the ebook and want to pay me back, but don't have any use for the dead-tree edition, the best way you can do that is to buy a copy of the book and donate it to a school, library or community center. If you do this, you'll put a copy of the book on the shelf where it might be read, I'll get a royalty, and my sales-figures will go up (which means that I'll get a bigger advance on my next book and my publisher will be more likely to want to repeat the experiment).

Scott McCloud and I have arguments, really fun ones that can go on for hours, where I ask him why he doesn't put the stuff he's done on the web over the years into a more physical format, like printing it on paper and having that bound, and having it distributed to people who would happily pay money for it. And he explains that a) it was designed for the screen so the dot resolution of the early ones isn't printable and b) the whole point of his web comics is that they exist on infinite screens that are merely windows thus allowing characters if necessary to fall a really long distance, and he would need more paper than there is matter in the physical universe to actually print The Right Number as a comic, and c) that would be an admission of failure in some way.

Which may all be true, but I'd happily buy a paper version of Scott's morning improvs or various webcomics, even if characters didn't actually blink, and even if it was reformatted for paper, and even if I just had to imagine characters falling a very long way, instead of actually having to scroll down a very long way on a screen. I have an imagination: it would be no hardship.

And I'd rather pay my $20 for something I could stick on the shelf, and page through when I wanted to, even in bed, than, as Cory puts it, drop 25 cents in the tipjar every time I pass through. And I wouldn't mind at all if the physical object carried a warning on the back cover saying that it was, in every way, inferior to the version online; and I appreciate that Scott would, like Cory, only be getting around 10% of the sale price (rather than 85% of the tip jar...).

Having said that, Scott happily redrew his WHY I'M NOT NEIL GAIMAN online strip as a limited edition print for the CBLDF, so he is willing to move material from screen back to paper for a good cause. (No, the print hasn't come out yet. No idea why not. I'll ask Charles Brownstein at the CBLDF.)

(This is what they currently have for sale at the CBLDF Neil store. Looks like some things have sold out since the last time I looked.)


Actually, the same or a similar $200 bill has surfaced at least once before--at a Dairy Queen in Danville, Kentucky, where I went to college. The BBC (oddly) has more:


And now you can actually see the currency in question...

I suppose the advantage to passing one of those $200 bills is that if the person at the till calls you on it, you can always point out it's a joke, and no, they weren't meant to take it seriously. Ain't no such thing as a $200 bill nohow. And it's not counterfeiting (it would be obtaining goods or money by deception).


Interesting Space Elevator article at,2763,1041360,00.html


And for those people keeping track, next Saturday and Sunday, the 20th and 21st of Sept, I'm in New York.

On Saturday, I'm talking about Sandman: Endless Nights. It's at 11:00am at the Equitable Centre. That's followed by a signing for the people who were at the talk. The talk is ticketed.

In the morning, I'm doing a signing at NEW YORK IS BOOK COUNTRY on the graphic novel stage, which is out in the open air on 5th avenue. There's a limited number of people I can sign for, as I can only sign for an hour and then someone else will sit in my chair and take over (art speigelman, oddly enough), so get there early...

In the evening, I'll be "in conversation" with art speigelman at the 92nd st Y, at least partly talking about Little Lit 3. Again, it's ticketed. I don't know if we'll be signing stuff afterwards, but I expect we will. Details at

I expect that both venues will be selling tickets for any unsold seats on the day, but you may be disappointed if they've sold out.

(And yes, I know I've put all this up already. But enough people have written and asked, confused and needing clarification, that I thought I'd post it, as clearly as I could, one more time.)