The News at Electron Press
This month we publish Montana Kanes novel Encountering C. Maxwell, an ode to adventure, to the thrill of the road, to the possibility of discovery, and to the ecstasies of creative expression. It is also a rarely sung ode to solitude in which Celia Maxwell, armed with a Nikon and a sense of humor, criss-crosses Latin America chasing another C. Maxwell, whom she believes to be her intellectual and spiritual doppelganger. The novel is written in a unique style that perfectly reflects Celias complex inner life as an outsider, an artist and a high-functioning neurotic. As her journey ends, Celia is forced to confront the reality that the happy ending she imagined will not quite match the happy ending she can have.
A major addition to the Electron Press web site since our last Whats New entry, Jim Knipfels Slackjaw column moved to Electron Press in the fall of 2006. Slackjaw is a penetrating, irreverent take on modern life as experienced by its somewhat grumpy author, a skeptical look at the shallow optimism and media-driven conformism of the American Experiment. Whether it is the vividly portrayed details of his daily adventures navigating the stroller-clogged streets of rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn, or scenes from the deranged past of the author and his partners in crime, the weekly dose of Slackjaw never fails to deliver some combination of solid laughs, strange characters, and unique food for thought.
New Purchase Process
In the fall of 2009 we replaced our old home-grown purchase process with Pay Pal. The new process still supports payment by credit card, but adds the benefit of rapid payment processing for customers who have a Pay Pal account.
Latest Issue of Electron Magazine
The most recent issue ( Number 5) of Electron, our free literary magazine, includes short stories by Irving Greenfield, Thomas Atkinson , Diane Sigman and Ralph Avseev, and Letter From Hell: Confessions of a Native American Gambler, a fascinating essay about one womans gambling addiction.
Later this month we will be adding books by John Dos Passos and Oscar Wilde to our Free Books selection.
The State of Epublishing
The big news since 2003, when we last discussed the state of epublishing, has been the emergence of multiple popular ebook reading devices, starting in 2007 with Amazons Kindle, and including Barnes & Nobles Nook, Sonys Reader, and now Apples iPad. Heres a summary of the three major devices:
· The Kindle -- Amazons proprietary e-reader, was first released in November, 2007. Kindle 2 (February 2009) and Kindle DX (May 2009) models both offer pdf support. $259-$489 list price (6 or 9.7 diagonal screen)
· The Nook -- Barnes & Nobles e-reader based on Googles Android mobile operating system (uses a modified version of Linux), was first released in October 2009. The Nook supports pdf, epub and pdb formats; pdb is the same as the prc or doc PDA formats. $259 list price
· The iPad -- Apples proprietary tablet device, based on the iPhone OS, and released April 2010. The iPad is a limited full-featured PC, supports epub format, and supports pdf via third party applications (e.g. Good.iWares GoodReader for $0.99). $499 and up list price.
In addition, a host of lesser-known ebook devices from small companies are also available; the Wikipedia comparison of e-book formats page has a complete list.
Despite the recent rapid increase in popularity of these readers, the price of ebooks has continued to remain way above what is justified by ebook file production costs. For example, the just published -- and likely best seller -- 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown is for sale on Amazon in hardcover for $15.75, while the ebook (Kindle) edition is priced on Amazon at $14.18. This is only ten percent less than the hardcover, while its unit cost is a miniscule percentage of the unit cost of the hardcover book.
The logical conclusion is that the large publishing companies, in league with the large online retailers (Amazon, B & N, and now Apple) have succeeded in enforcing an ebook pricing model that does everything for their bottom lines, less than nothing for the consumer, and no doubt nothing for the authors.
New Issue of Electron Magazine Online
The latest issue (number 4) of Electron, a free literary magazine, is now online. Each issue of Electron presents short stories, articles, essays, and poems not published in book form. Issue number 4 includes short stories by Diane Sigman, Janet Campbell Hale and Gene-Michael Higney, "Report From the Drug War" by journalist Daniel Forbes, poetry by Ray Mellor, and an India travel essay and photo gallery by Haden Peterson. To access the magazine click on the "Electron Magazine" button in the left frame.
Other EP News
In the last few months Electron Press has published four new books of fiction, bringing our catalogue to a total of 36 titles. The mix includes detective and mystery novels, literary fiction (novels and short story collections), true crime, and books on politics and current events, as well as one western novel, one film script and one play. Our authors include well-known writers such as Arthur Herzog, James Ridgeway and Janet Campbell Hale, as well as many talented unknowns whose work was previously unpublished. The four most recent titles are described in the "Recent Releases" section below.
In the next two months we will be adding a Free Books area to the Electron Press web site. This section will provide free downloads of public domain works in both pdf and prc (pda) formats. A few of the titles scheduled for initial release are Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio; Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt and Main Street; Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie; Bertrand Russell's Proposed Roads to Freedom; and The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting.
In the tradition of the fast, free-wheeling caper novels of master crime novelists Donald E. Westlake and Richard Stark, Matt D'Agostino's By Degrees is also a sharp satire of television, politics and academe. The story begins as a motley group of brilliant yet underpaid Ivy League Ph.D. candidates join forces to pull off the most audacious kidnapping in history disguised as Afghan terrorists. Sparks fly as these underdog intellectuals pit their wits against political correctness, the wasteland of TV, and New York's Finest, leading to a stunning climax.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
Sal Gosse's short story collection To Whom It May Concern is a parachute jump into a wild country whose characters are locked in a hard-drinking, sex-bombed, post-adolescent groove that carries them from the heights of ecstasy to hellish despair and back in a few pages. Each of these stories, whether upbeat or downbeat, hard reality or straight-out fantasy, meditation or adventure, is the work of a man whose narrator simply says "Well, I do know I'm crazy but it's a good thing. When I picture myself happy I'm sitting at the bar with a beer in hand talking shit with whoever will listen. And that's what I call getting it on." To Whom It May Concern is a compelling page-turner that really does get it on.
THE JAILING OF CECELIA CAPTURE
Janet Campbell Hale's novel The Jailing of Cecelia Capture recounts the life story of a thirty year old native American woman who has been arrested for drunk driving. Despite being a student at prestigious Boalt Hall, the law school of UC Berkeley, despite being married to a white man and mother to their two children, Cecelia is haunted by memories of her reservation childhood and her unresolved relationships with her father, her mother and her people. Kept in jail a few days on an old welfare fraud charge, Cecelia spends the entire time musing on her past. The story, deftly written in the third person, veers from poignancy to anger and back, and is one of the jewels of American fiction. Speaking of this novel, Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison said, "The Jailing of Cecelia Capture is a beautifully written book. Janet Campbell Hale's gifts are genuine and deeply felt."
On his release from California's maximum security prison at Pelican Bay, Jimmy Kendall is determined to reunite with Rita, his old flame and, he thinks, true love. But Rita, now a call girl with a string of unsavory clients, is not so sure of her feelings. Kendall is also determined to leave behind his prison gang past, in which he served as a hit man for the Aryan Brotherhood in their wars with the Black Guerilla Family. He quickly discovers that the world into which the ex-con is thrust is no less confining than the walls of Pelican Bay, and that his past involvement with gangs and violence has set him on a road with no exits. Daniel Hallford's PELICAN BAY is a fast-paced and riveting look at the ugly underbelly of society where sleazy businessmen and corrupt politicians mingle easily with desperate call girls and ruthless killers.
The State of Epublishing
Incremental adoption of the ebook format by the reading public continues at a slow pace. Better screen resolution has led more people to use the PDA as an ebook platform, even as the Rocket ebook and Gemstar have faded from the scene. Turnover among ebook publishers is high, with old companies and web sites continuing to disappear and new ones taking their place at a steady clip. Electron Press and England's Online Originals are still the two quality epublishers surviving from the pioneer days, still offering quality original ebooks for sale at a reasonable price.
Once in a blue moon a manuscript pops up that is so original, so authentic and so compelling that it makes the editor jump for joy at the luck of discovering it. Michael Lees Highland Avenue is a smooth-flowing, high energy slice of life that perfectly captures a particular place, time and state of mind. The authors portrayal of the other Hollywood, the sleazy neighborhood of cheap drugs and cheap sex whose players are half a step from the gutter, rings so true its scary. Fans of Charles Bukowski or Henry Miller will love this book.
David Hellerstein's Stone Babies is a medical thriller that combines edge-of-the seat suspense with immersion in the reality of "Labor and Delivery," and provides an ironic take on the contrasting life styles of Manhattan's Upper East Side and Brooklyn's slums. While struggling to make ends meet working in a walk-in clinic in the Brooklyn ghetto, a young doctor hopes against the odds to begin a private obstetrical practice on Manhattan's Upper East Side. With one foot in the glamorous world of his wealthy girlfriend and the other firmly planted in the poverty and squalor of the slums where he practices medicine, he finds himself working alone to expose a violent coverup of medical malpractice.
A. R. Lamb's novel, set in a world that is achingly real yet somehow just out of reach, is a tantalizing dream of the very near future or the immediate past. Written in a unique style that blends biting wit and emotional depth, Divers brings together militant feminists, spiritual cultists and failed revolutionaries in an intricate, multi-layered plot. It is altogether a seductive and surrealistic novel.
THE STING RAYS
Los Angeles, 1969. The Hollywood Hills shine dully through a drifting haze of smog and marijuana smoke, rock music echoes from the canyons, and the horror of a war seven thousand miles away is felt in the protests, be-ins and end-of-an era craziness that grips the younger generation. It's the sixties, peaking, and Robert Dunn's novel captures the mood to a tee. The Sting Rays is an ode to the late sixties, a literary epitaph to an era that no one who was there could ever forget.
Sweet Justice is Herbert Caliste's second Greg Darrell detective mystery. This time out Darrell finds himself immersed in a strange universe of body builders, illegal steroids, and murder. As with his first novel, Biloxi P.I., the story is set in Biloxi, Mississippi, and the deeply authentic local color is as integral to the novel as the violent intrigue.
From 1970 to 1977 journalist and documentary producer Danny Schechter was the news director at radio station WBCN-FM in Boston, where his award-winning daily news program always started with the words "this is Danny Schechter, your news dissector." News DissectorPassions, Pieces & Polemics 1960-2000 brings together his writings on politics, human rights and the media from a span of four decades of activism and reporting. Allen Ginsberg, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Abbie Hoffman and other key figures from the counterculture and radical politics come alive in these pages. This is an enlightening and important book by one of the few working journalists to emerge from the alternative media of the sixties and seventies with his politics and principals intact.
Bill Armstrong's photography was exhibited in group shows this year at the Soroka Gallery in Aspen, Casa Fotografia Fuji in Sao Paolo, and at the Fuller Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. His photography will be exhibited at a solo show at An American Space Gallery on New York's Upper East Side from January 25 through February 24, 2001.
David Hellerstein was recently named Clinical Director of the NY State Psychiatric Institute in upper Manhattan, while continuing as director of the Mood Disorders Research Program at Beth Israel Hospital.
Arthur Herzog now has three additional novels -- IQ83, Orca, and LSITT -- under contract for publication by Electron Press.
Charles Ortleb has published two more works of fiction since the publication of Iron Peter. The Last Lovers on Earth, a collection of short stories, and The Closing Argument, a novel about a black man accused of deliberately spreading AIDS, are both available as trade paperbacks through Amazon.com and BN.com.
Danny Schechter's documentary film on the Falun Gong, titled Falun Gong's Challenge to China: Spiritual Practice or "Evil Cult?", was recently released by Globalvision, and his book of the same name was published in hard covers by Akashic Books, a Brooklyn- based independent publisher. Akashic is also scheduled to publish Danny's News Dissector, an Electron Press original, in bound book form in April 2001.
Print On Demand
At some point in the next year we plan to make a number of our original titles available in paperback format on a "print on demand" basis. This will give our customers another reading option, and should provide a significant boost to our promotional efforts on behalf of our authors and their work.
New Electronic Formats
As an electronic publisher we are committed to making our books available in all popular (and non-proprietary) ebook formats. Additional ebook technologies we are considering include the Rocket ebook and MS Reader formats. However, before we decide to support any new format, we need to be certain that there is a serious demand for it from ebook buyers. Gemstar, which purchased NuvoMedia, the originator of the Rocket ebook, has now discontinued the Rocket line, throwing into serious doubt the viability of the Rocket format. The MS Reader format is still very new, and we have not yet received a single customer inquiry about it. By way of comparison, PDAs continue their spectacular growth, with well over 10,000,000 devices already distributed. Virtually all PDAs can be used to read books in the prc (also called "doc") format, one of two we currently support. We welcome your comments on this issue, which should be directed to .
The State of Epublishing
Electronic book publishing has come quite a distance in the three years since Electron Press started publishing. Some of the changes were predictable, as the traditional publishing companies -- which back then scorned the very idea of ebooks -- have raced to gain control of the ebook market, with the objective of protecting their profits at the expense of authors and readers. In the last few months they have begun flooding the market with ebook versions of many titles, generally pricing them only twenty to thirty percent below the current bound book price.
At the same time, the public has been slow -- very slow -- to adopt the ebook. As a result, many of the pioneers of epublishing have faded, merged or disappeared. FictionNet.com is defunct. BiblioBytes.com now gives away all its books. PeanutPress.com has become primarily a distributor of other companies' books, providing ebook versions of traditional publishers' books at prices that range up to $23, with an average price just under $20. Other ebook web sites are experimenting with ads in books, pay-to-see-the-ending books, and other odd schemes. Electron Press and England's Online Originals are the two quality epublishers surviving from the pioneer days, still offering quality original ebooks for sale at a reasonable price.
Electron Press Adds Palm Pilot Support
Starting this month Electron Press customers can buy books as Palm Pilot "PRC" files, or in the original Adobe Acrobat format. To get the Palm Pilot version of a book, simply click on the "PRC" radio button adjacent to the book's title in the "File Format" column of the purchase form.
New Issue of Electron Magazine
Issue number two of Electron Magazine has a new look and new content. In addition to excerpts from Electron Press books, the magazine now includes short pieces and poetry from outside contributors. We think you will enjoy it.
One of the premises on which Electron Press was founded is that the corporate best seller mentality now triumphant in the publishing world has completely clogged the flow of interesting, quality writing from writers pens to readers eyes. In the publishing food chain everyone but the idealist adapts to this state of affairs by compromising quality, and the idealist is left to starve. The predictable result is that a lot of excellent new writing goes unpublished. Publishers wont acquire manuscripts that lack obvious low-brow appeal. Editors wont edit the manuscripts they do acquire. And literary agents have no interest in representing and working with novice writers unless they can see the big Hollywood dollar signs blinking on the near horizon. Heaven forfend that a writer should inject a note of controversy, or fail to hew to the latest party line on matters stylistic and political.
Happily for Electron Press, three of our new writers have been victims of this syndrome, and we are pleased we were here for them.
Douglas Brins novel The Seventh Son was originally hailed and taken on by a high-powered agency, which perhaps imagined that Brin would be an authorial sensation akin to Jim Carroll or Patti Smith. Whether they did much beyond sending the manuscript around the old boy network is not known, but after a year of no takers, they informed Brin that they could no longer represent him because he wasnt carrying his weight. The question unanswered is whether they were carrying theirs.
Charles Ortleb, who wrote Iron Peter, had a different problem. As the publisher of the New York Native, he had for years provided one of the few forums for the controversial but scientifically reputable idea that AIDS is not caused by the HIV virus. Needless to say, his satirical novel on this subject and the AIDS establishment has not met with universal acclaim from the literary world. Many of the comments he received from traditional publishers were along the lines of "we love this book, its great, its very funny, but of course we cant possibly publish it." Well, we can.
And then there is Nick Fuse, author of A Hard Time to Come. Electron Press stumbled on Nick completely by accident as he labored deep in the innards of a lower Manhattan financial megalith. Like Douglas Brin, Nick had also experienced an initial burst of enthusiasm, in his case from a well-known publishing house, only to find rejection when the publisher passed Nick on to an agent for final approval. It all came to an end when the agents girl friday read the book and compared it to a limp dick.
As the electronic book becomes a reality in the next few years, electronic publishing will take off. When that day comes, writers will find that they can reach as many readers through the Internet as they ever could through the book store. Electron Press is working to make that day a reality. We think that with Douglas Brin, Charles Ortleb and Nick Fuse we are off to an auspicious start.
Two new books are scheduled to be published by Electron Press during the first quarter of this year. The Last Bus, by Clay Geerdes, is a memoir of a mans life, from his Nebraska boyhood through decades in California that spanned the years from the Beat Generation to Generation X. Geerdes was a writer and cartoonist who published the newsletter Comix Wave (originally Comix World) from 1973 to 1995. His story "How I Lost A Ride to L. A. in 1949" appears in the current issue of Electron Magazine.
Dayla Heptings collection Time Runs will appear soon on this site. About her own life Dayla writes, "My daddy was a reckless cowboy. A truck driving man. . . . I started writing when I was eleven. . . . We moved to Moab, Utah, when I was 12. It was a boom town. . . . Uranium was worth more than gold. . . . I ran away. Many times. I mostly went to California. I became a poet. . . . I was in pursuit of Thomas Wolfe, Lawrence Durrell and finally Antonin Artaud. . . . I was obsessed. I was using speed and then heroin. Finally there was nothing but heroin. Just a black wall of pain and heroin." Her true story "Norman," also in the current issue of Electron Magazine, is about the troubled birth of a horse.
Our web site, www.electronpress.com, has been live since mid-November 1997. The first two months of web site activity served as an easy-going if somewhat prolonged shakedown cruise for the site. This gave us time to tie up a lot of loose ends, such as getting our web page titles and meta tags straight, and registering with web search engines and directories.
In early January we took stock, gathered our courage, and asked the critics for their reviews (of the site, as well as the books). The news was mixed, but we took the lashings to heart, added them to our own to-do list, gathered our courage, and embarked on a major re-design of the site. We have tried to keep the look and feel completely consistent with our basic web philosophy, which is to avoid the graphic clutter and gimcrackery that gives so many sites that awful busy look. We want this site to serve you, the users, as quickly and easily as possible. Esthetics count, but content rules.
We have streamlined the site and added several new functions and features, including this one, The News at Electron Press. We have also added an FAQ page, where we answer all the questions we can remember from the many queries and complaints we have received since starting operations. The new Site Guide takes the navigational instructions off the home page, and provides additional helpful detail for those who need it. The EP Book Look shows you exactly what your books will look like when you get them home and loaded up in Acrobat Reader. And View Electronic Book Prototype adds a graphic dimension to our discussion of the electronic book.
We hope you like it, and we welcome your comments to .
Finally, a word about three future projects. We hope to start publishing original film scripts by the middle of this year. We will also be working on creating a network of Internet-based book reviews devoted to Internet-published books. And we hope to find the time later in the year to launch a major effort to interest electronic hardware manufacturers in the electronic book.