Sunday, February 21, 2010

eBook Caper—Front Street and namelos

In cooperation with Boyds Mills Press, we are very pleased to offer you free copies of four new Front Street novels. Here is Kent Brown's letter explaining the caper.

I normally trash any e-mail that includes the word free in it. And I often ignore any that mentions e-book, as I'm not up to date on that technology. But I concocted this experiment and egged on my friend Stephen Roxburgh, who is an early adopter of e-books and things high tech. I got used to seeing him in a rocking chair engrossed in his Kindle. Stephen has been a student of the book in whatever format most of his life and is articulate on the importance and magic of story, independent of platform.

Front Street, founded by Stephen and now part of Boyds Mills Press, has among its recent publications four great novels, which we selected for this experiment. They are characterized by the gentle hand of Stephen Roxburgh and the skills of colleagues he trained and inspired.

The novels are According to Kit by Eugenie Doyle (2ce4)City of Cannibals by Ricki Thompson (d35f)The Dog in the Wood by Monika Schröder (3bd5), and Warriors in the Crossfire by Nancy Bo Flood (2ac4).

To get your free electronic copies, go to and locate the book by title or author by browsing or use the "search" option. When you get to the book page, enter the unique code provided for each book (shown in parentheses above) in the box in the lower-left corner of the page (under the list of prices) and click "submit." You will be asked to provide your name and e-mail address and to select the file format you want. You will receive an e-mail with a link that will download the file you selected to your hard drive, from where you can transfer it to your preferred reading device.

The code will allow you to download one file format per title. If you need a file format that is not provided, write directly to Stephen ( and he'll provide it.

Frankly, it's an increasing challenge to get attention for novels, particularly first novels. So, in cooperation with Stephen Roxburgh and his new venture, namelos llc, we are offering for a limited time downloads of the four novels. From now until April Fools' Day, you can put these on your e-reading device without charge. And since we are doing this to get the word out, we would be very happy if you shared the opportunity with your friends. We want everyone to know about these books.

Boyds Mills Press has the hardback editions in stock, and they are available through all the places you buy books. Namelos llc will be selling the e-book versions of these titles in April and beyond. Almost all other Front Street novels are available now for purchase to download at

If you take advantage of this special offer, you can expect namelos to keep you up to date on the books they are offering in e-book format. If that's not to your liking, you will have a chance to opt out.

I cannot answer your technical questions—Stephen can do that—but I'd be happy to hear about your experience with this experiment.

Kent Brown
Boyds Mills Press

I will add only that it is enormously exciting to be part of this effort. A lot of publishers are resisting eBooks, fretting about DRM, piracy, "windowing" (i.e. delaying the release of the eBook edition), and pricing. It's said that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. While they figure it out, we are publishing and delivering compelling new titles to the fastest growing segment of the reading public and the book market. That's where we want to be and I invite you to join us. Enjoy the books!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Caveat venditor!

The wrestling match between the established print media and the new digital media is now a tag-team match: Macmillan/Apple vs. Amazon and everybody vs. Google. Publishers and agents and many authors have a strong vested interest in the match and have had a lot to say. But not much is being reported about what consumers think, and, as I see it, they are footing the bill.

I have been a voracious reader and purchaser of books all my life and currently spend about $2,500 a year on books. I'm the kind of customer publishers and authors need. In the last two years I have shifted from primarily reading print books to ebooks. I have four pieces of hardware that I read on, a Kindle DX, a nook, an iTouch, and my laptop, but my primary device is the Kindle DX. My wife and son also have Kindles (both have K2s). I will order an iPad the second the "Buy button" is activated. We can share books because all the devices are on the same account. Of course, given our diverse tastes, only about one in ten books is something two out of three of us want to read. We have yet to find a unanimous choice. I have 363 books on my ereader today, but that number goes up and down as I add books and manuscripts, read them, and delete them. They are backed up in the cloud and on a remote hard drive on my desk so I can access them whenever I want.

Of those, I paid for about 100. I am not a pirate (although that is my Halloween costume of choice), i.e. I don't download unauthorized free copies of books. I don't need to because so many good books are free. Project Gutenburg, ManyBooks, The Book Depository, and Feedbooks are a few established sites that offer tens of thousands of free books. There are many more sites out there as well, and more coming on-line. Moreover, I believe all of those books Google scanned, which are currently unavailable to most readers because they are out of print and not easily found in used book stores or libraries, will become available to the consumer one of these days, and the prices will be reasonable, however the proceeds end up being split.

All of this is to say that I find myself choosing between buying a new book or digging around in one of these sites to see what interests me. Some times I go one way, some times the other, but if I pay for a book I have to really want it, and I don't spend money on books I think are overpriced unless I really want them or I'm really desperate for something to read. These days I don't find myself desperate for something to read often, because I've got 50 or more unread books in my hand all the time now, and ready access to more.

The saying "So many books, so little time" has never been more true. The number of books is increasing and the amount of time is decreasing. In light of that, I say seller beware. Go ahead, fix the price of your new books at whatever level you feel is right, but consumers (aka readers) have yet to weigh in and this match is still in the early rounds.