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April 13, 2003 6:07 AM   Subscribe

Mathew Branton, an established author is giving away his latest novel "The Tie and The Crest", for free on the internet, here he explains why. It's all very noble and I applaud it. While we are on the subject, has anyone mentioned the Big Read yet?
posted by Fat Buddha (11 comments total)
That's pretty cool. And pretty insane considering he could have got a nice sum of money for it. But I'd still rather read novels in book form.
This guy says he's pissed off because people like Naomi Campbell and Sophie Dahl (don't know who that is) are getting their "books" published and promoted more than his. So what? That's hardly a damning indictment of the publishing industry. I think the real reason is that his legs are too short.
posted by mokey at 9:53 AM on April 13, 2003

I'd think the offer was a lot more noble if he didn't appear to be doing it because he feels he's so much more important and special than all those other idiots, fools and clowns who are getting books published.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:07 AM on April 13, 2003

idiots, fools and clowns

I didn't catch those words in the article. Interesting.
He didn't seem so much sanctimonious as he did frustrated.

And as far as 'so what' goes, I think the dumbing down of people's expectations doesn't begin to cover what we've been experiencing lately.
posted by Busithoth at 11:23 AM on April 13, 2003

I appreciate him giving his book away, but just because it's free doesn't mean I'll read it. Electronic books aren't fun anyway.

Even with the e-readers that they're putting out, they won't be able to replace paper books.
posted by graventy at 11:38 AM on April 13, 2003

The big publishing houses are a foolish and cowed bunch of dinosaurs employing young sassy make-a-buck hucksters. Good books are scandalously under-paid-for and over-priced to consumers while writers are ripped off, much like the recording industry, except writers never get a chance to make their money back on tour. The focus is on exactly what Branton complains about: mass market dumbed-down crap. And of course all serious writers (Joan Didion excepted, unless she is being disingenous) think they're better than most other writers, or else they wouldn't be able to write every day. Here in New York, and probably all around the world, groups of well-known published writers are beginning to meet to figure out alternatives to the publishing industry. Publishing as we know it should most probably be destroyed. Why not drop out, why not give a free gift to the few readers that care about novels? Why not embrace readers who don't pay for novels at all?

Of course, he could at least have formatted the text of his novel online so it was readable. If you're out there, Matthew, drop me an email and I'll gladly make your novel legible for free.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:47 AM on April 13, 2003

I only see a free chapter not a free novel. Is there a link I am not seeing somewhere?
posted by srboisvert at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2003

srboisvert, I believe the whole thing is being made available over the next 4 weeks, which I would have mentioned had I been aware of it.
posted by Fat Buddha at 12:30 PM on April 13, 2003

if the publishers find that more people will buy dumbass stupid books, then why shouldn't they publish such books? they are obviously responding to the amount of stupid people in the world. people are already stupid, the media can't make them more stupid. but it can cash in. maybe the stupid people of the world like their stupid books. it does suck that there are so many crap books getting published. but that's because a lot of people go for crap. and their legs are too short. anyway don't get me wrong, i'm definitely on branton's side, and the side of good writing.
posted by mokey at 12:32 PM on April 13, 2003

You're right, srboisvert. I just got an email from Matthew about that. (Of course, he's a mega-MeFi lurker: who isn't anymore?)

The novel is going to be serialized over the next four weeks, largely for bandwidth's sake (Matthew isn't just poor-mouthing). The Independent will be serializing the complete book over the next month. Also, Matthew will email any who wants a copy of the entire manuscript.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:39 PM on April 13, 2003

I've thought about doing this, or self-publishing. It boils down to:

1. I need to eat and pay the mortgage.

2. I do not admire big publishing houses.

But if I'm going to get ripped off for the pleasure of being published by peope I don't admire whose morals I find questionable, then perhaps I don't want that pleasure. The only reason to go the big publishing route is because it pays. But if it doesn't pay well, then why bother?

Plus, I don't think people can "own" ideas. Stories used to be made and told by and for communities, then, like all free things, storytelling was co-opted by large corporations and then sold back to us at a huge profit to the corporations and little profit to the storytellers.

So now I'm seriously considering making writing my avocation, and choosing another vocation (like teaching, which I happen to enjoy, and which I actually think is more important.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:01 PM on April 13, 2003

Writing a book typically costs the author money. You figure how much money you get for your advance, how much time you take to write the book, how much money you could have made while spending time to write the book...

It becomes a very expensive proposition.

I wrote a book for Penguin in Australia. My second book is almost finished. But I don't expect to be able to ever recoup the production why not give it away for free?

When I get asked to talk to University writing students, I generally start off by saying: If you really want to become full-time writers, the best advice I can give you is to marry into money.
posted by chrisgregory at 5:09 AM on April 15, 2003

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