Every novel on Man Booker Prize shortlist to be available free for online readers


16 Comments on “Gamechanger?”

  1. About time. *applause* I’ll be that much more likely to go buy my favourite book out of the list (after I read them all). In hardcover. At full price.

  2. It’ll be very interesting to see how many people download those books. I’m guessing that online readers are far more likely to spend time reading genre works or non-fiction than mainstream lit., but I might be wrong.

  3. I’m feel excited about this development. I’ve always wanted to check out the candidates for the Booker but I’m not about to drop money on them out of curiosity. If I found a book engaging, I would probably buy it because it’s hard to read on my laptop without getting sucked into internet diversions.

    I don’t have a comment about how this will change the Booker prize because I don’t know enough about the topic.

  4. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang O.C., the Original Changsta

    Well, not to be too verbose, but…

    Uh, fuck yeah?!


  5. What?! Listen, is that a trumpet call? And whose this sun challenged dude going by on a white horse? Cats and dogs living together! But, strangely, I feel fine.

  6. Because I apparently live under a rock – I didn’t know anything about the “Man Booker Prize”, so this was a revelation for me. Thanks.

    When I saw the words “Man Booker” I immediately thought John’s link had something to do with a Republican gay dating service, possibly for politicians.

    Just saying.

    I usually do poorly on Rorschach tests too.

  7. Christian, actually that would be really good for Rorschach tests. The more creative the answer the better. You know, not that I persoanlly would know about those things.

  8. I think it’s just another step on an inevitable path. Things were going this way already, this might hasten it a bit.

  9. Will people pay for something that they can get for free? How much? A purely rational person, from an economic perspective, would not–and why should they? But it seems many of us aren’t rational from an economic perspective. Almost all of us tip waiters at restaurants (a classic example of economic irrationality). We tip cab drivers, too. Some of us give money to street musicians if we particularly like what they do.

    Personally, I would use the downloads the same way that Karl does: I would sample the books, and if I liked them, I would go out and buy them. It would be interesting to see how many people do the same, though difficult to tell. If sales see a bump after the books are put online, how will we know what caused it? Was it the fact that the books were put online, or was it the publicity surrounding the fact that the books were put online?

  10. I would download them, of course. I am a curious person.

    And I would for sure buy those that satisfied me enough. We earn money to spend it in the things we need and in the things we like, or at least that’s my point of view. When I like a movie, an album or a book I have borrowed from the library, I buy them. No remorse.

  11. Wow.

    If it’s publicised enough that will go a long way towards de snootying literature which desperately, desperately needs to happen.

  12. I think the statement about human economic irrationality is a good one. That said…

    Will people pay for something that they can get for free?

    They aren’t the same thing. Having the text to a book on a computer screen is not the same thing as having a book. Most people find it hard to read long works on a screen. I’ve been reading Accelerando (and loving it) but I started over a year ago. There are too many distractions on my laptop to stay focused enough to finish. If I see it in the store someday, I’ll buy it. I’m just too busy with school right now to do much recreational reading so I haven’t chased it down yet.

    Someday, I expect that we will have digital books that are as easy to read as paper. When that day comes, it will be a different question.

  13. Karl says…

    [the published book and the downloadable book] aren’t the same thing.

    That’s true–well, at least for you and me, it’s true. You and I seem to read things the same way in that we likes us our long works on paper. But is it true for everyone? Actually, I’m really asking–is it true for everyone here?

  14. I don’t think that a desktop or laptop PC are ideal to read a long work of fiction from (too distracting, not portable enough) but I love having novels on my Palm PDA. Usually they’re downloads of the same books that I own in dead-tree format, so I can read a few pages when the chance arises but don’t have to cart the phyiscal book around in my bag.

    I’ve read entire novels in digital format, and haven’t felt the need to rush out and by a physical copy, but having sampled an author’s work this way I’ve certainly gone on to by further works. I believe that it’s a positive marketing tactic that can only help book sales – even if only if cross-promotion of other works.

    I don’t think this is a ‘gamechaning’ announcement, as it’s been done before, but it’s good to see something as high profile as the Booker proize getting involved in pushing things forward this way.

  15. Hell yes! As a matter of fact, that’s how I got into both Charles Stross: I read Accelerando online for free, and just bought a hardcover copy of Halting State. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed Accelerando so much, that I might get a hardcover edition for my library in the near future, but that’s just me being a dead-tree-fetishist.

    Oh, and I paid $10 for the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows (incorrectly named as ‘Rainbows’ in the article… research!). But only because they went independent. If they had still been with one of the RIAA member labels, I would have BitTorrented it.

    As for reading devices, I’ve tried to read long-form works on various laptops and various Palm devices unsuccessfully over the years, and although I’ve heard good things about the new reader from Sony, I find it hard to justify carrying around a device that *just* reads books. On the other hand, I find that the iPhone is not a bad reader! Small screen, yes, but a very bright and hi-res (read: sharp) display makes reading on it rather enjoyable. The only downside is that sometimes it has issues with large HTML and PDF files. Hopefully that’s something that can be remedied with a native PDF reader (there’s one out there now, but it’s still in beta, and quite crappy because of it) once the SDK comes out in February. I would love to see an iPhone e-book reader app that uses the same ‘flick’ dynamic that you use while browsing photos to ‘turn’ the pages on a book…

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