Thursday, March 24, 2011

Free Book

In ten years now, sales of e-books will exceed sales of old fashioned hardbacks and paperbacks. It's an impressive statistic and would be even more so if I hadn't merely heard it in an interview with Jeffrey Archer. Okay, here's another one. In the month of July of last year, Amazon reported that, for the first time, its sales of e-books exceeded those of hardbacks. Most e-books on Amazon retail for ten dollars or less - which is quite a bargain when you consider that I paid thirty-three dollars for Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. I could have saved twenty-three dollars if I'd bought it as an e-book. Although I'm not quite sure that I would have enjoyed reading it as much on an iPad. My colleague Scott Alexander is currently reading Moby Dick on his iPhone. I must have looked a little doubtful when he told me, because he scrolled to the first sentence of the book and there it was: Call me Ishmael.

But I didn't create my first e-book because I especially wanted to embrace this new technology. I did it because I couldn't bear for Tumble Turn, the first novel I wrote, to be out of print. That's what happened last year. Penguin were nice about it. They didn't just chuck it away. They did a reprint before, sadly, they told me that the book had been removed from their catalogue. It was a horrible feeling. The book isn't well known, but it seems to have made a connection with a few people who contact me via the site. And because the book is important to me (more than, say, Kevin the Troll, although I quite like that book too), I'm giving it away. Penguin reverted the rights to me, then I reset all 40,000 words so that it didn't resemble the Penguin edition in any way at all. They own the design copyright, you see. I like Penguin's design, especially Karen Trump's idea of having a dart that meanders its way through the whole book. It starts here on the dedication page (to someone called Dart Ricchiera, who is a pretty amazing person):

 And it ends here on page 155:
That dotted line indicating the wayward flightpath of the dart, appears on every page. It's a nice touch. I'm all for anything that makes a book look different or intriguing. But that was a Penguin idea, and even though the book is out of print, the dart belongs to them. So I wasn't allowed to use that in the e-book. I also wasn't allowed to use a Penguin cover. (And heaven knows there were enough of them. You can see them all on the website.) But Luke Harris and Vision Australia let me use their cover that they created for the talking book. It was nice of them.
And this is where you can download it for free. I'm doing this because I'm hoping people might like it enough to buy my other books. Hey, you might even like to buy this one, that was nominated for an Aurealis award this week. (The Aurealis Awards recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.)
Here is the complete shortlist for my category:
Merrow, Ananda Braxton-Smith, black dog books
Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey, Allen & Unwin
The Midnight Zoo, Sonya Hartnett, Penguin
The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher, Doug MacLeod, Penguin
Behemoth (Leviathan Trilogy Book Two), Scott Westerfeld, Penguin

I guess you'd have to call me an outside chance. But it feels awfully good to know that someone has read the book. I wish more people would read Tumble Turn. Now is your chance! For free!

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