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Don't Post Clickable Links, Reading Books Online

I'm getting a wave of Russian bots posting links in the comment sections. I've edited the blog code so you can't post full web addresses anymore. If you're a non-bot and want to share a web address, you'll need to use a bit of circumlocution or your comment will bounce.

[Riled cow shakes off pesky bots!]

This reminds me somehow of this great new Charlie Stross book I started reading today, Accelerando. I bought it at Borders for $25 yesterday. The clerk was surprised I wasn't getting Harry Potter And The Large Royalty Check instead! Stross is also (with his editors' blessing) giving the book away on line, like Cory Doctorow likes to do with his books.

Has anyone out there ever read a whole book in electronic form? If you comment, remember not to put full web addresses in your answer.

20 Responses to “Don't Post Clickable Links, Reading Books Online”

  1. Brian Says:

    I have read Accelerando in electronic form. Sort of. I printed it off a chapter at a time and read it on paper. I am not sure if this counts but right now my brain ‘knows’ that e-form text is for manuals and fiction is meant to be on paper. Plus I can take it with me and read on break.
    It’s a very good read.

  2. rupa Says:

    Hi Rudy, I love your work, I mean really I do.
    I’ve started being able to read whole books in e form only recently. I read an awful lot, and there were a lot of little things that made it hard. The biggest thing that helped me was resizing my browser window to be really narrow, and suddenly it feels more like a paperback book. And I still can’t get into it on a desktop, it has to be a laptop.
    Funny, Charlie Stross’s book was the first novel I managed to read entirely online, and I loved it, and went out and bought two of his books on the strength of that. Just in case you are wondering if you’d like to release some stuff online, it seems like a good way to get more folks into your stuff (of course I’m already hooked on your stuff – but oddly enough I have a hard time finding your books in stores – my local academic library is where I’ve read most of your work).
    Thanks Rudy, for your marvelous writing, and quite enjoyable blog.

  3. David Orban Says:

    I am finishing “Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom” right now. I am reading it on my mobile phone, and while the screen only contains a paragraph or two at a time, which slows me down, having it always with me is very convenient.
    I am used to reading several books at once–a few others at this time are “Quicksiver” by Neal Stephenson, and “Relativity Simply Explained” by Martin Gardner–so switching into this one from time to time is not a hassle.
    e-paper is a must, and the greatest value from it will be gained by textbooks, rather then narrative fiction.

  4. Kevin Griffin Says:

    I’ve read two books on my Palm III with the Weasel reader (from project Gutenberg)
    Both were by Doctorow, (Down & Out in the magic kingdom and Eastern Standard Tribe)

  5. Lisa Williams Says:

    Yep, I read Bruce Sterling’s book on hackers entirely on my PDA.
    My husband has Accelerando on his side of the Book Pile Interrupted by A Bed, and he’s reading it entirely too slowly for my satisfaction.
    Rupa, you’re Charlie’s dream come true — that’s the whole point of posting the books online. Doctorow talked to Dave Slusher for his “Voices in Your Head” program over at IT Conversations, and there was a long back and forth on this issue. Doctorow issued his latest book under the CC Developing Nations license, which means readers living in developing nations can print out *AND SELL* the book in those nations without paying royalties. His argument? “It’s not the worst thing to be the best known science fiction writer in the developing world.”

  6. emilio Says:

    I have never read a book on line. I don’t currently use a PDA so I have never read an e-book offline either. I’m probably too old. Anything more than a few pages I print and then read. I’m waiting for V.R. direct brain hook-ups.
    Glad to hear that you are going to write a sequel to Frek. It is a really good story and I think you can reach many young uns with it. Not that this would bring Harry type success, SF will never do that, unless maybe you dispense with the science and do like time travel. “Frek and Renata visit the 21st Century”

  7. Ryan Sholin Says:

    Although I would have happily forked over the money for a hard copy, I read Dan Gillmor’s We The Media on my laptop after downloading the PDFs of every chapter. I have a hard time rationalizing buying books about Internet sort of stuff that rapidly get outdated, and usually grab them at the SJSU or UCSC library when I can, but if the library doesn’t have any copies in the University-only section yet, certain books can be hard to get a hold of there.

  8. Pete Says:

    I’m a big fan of reading books on my old greyscale Handspring Visor (Palm clone). It’s great because I can fit a stack of books into this little device that slips into my laptop bag, and I can travel all over the place without running out of things to read. The batteries last basically forever since it doesn’t have a fancy color screen, and once you get into the story you forget that you’re having to flip pages so quickly. I get most of my books from Fictionwise, which has a pretty good selection of non-DRM’ed works.
    The current apex of e-book readers has got to be the Sony Libre, but until they start selling it in the US, it’s a pretty pricy import.

  9. Pete Says:

    I’ve read a couple of books online:
    Cory’s Down and Out
    The Metamorphosis of the Prime Intellect, by Roger Williams
    both of which I enjoyed immensely.
    I’ve also read a smattering of short stories. My job allows for a lot of online reading (without actually slacking off). I’m not too sure if I would read a book online from home (no idea why that would be any different, either, so don’t ask). =)
    I plan on buying Eastern Standard Tribe to support Doctorow, despite being able to read it online.
    Btw, I just finished reading Frek. I enjoyed it very much. It was delightfully weird. Thanks for writing it.

  10. Craig Says:

    I’ve been reading quite a bit on my PSP thanks to some cool e-reader software someone hacked on to it (Pixie – go look it up if you’ve got a PSP). In fact I use the PSP to read way more than I play games. Just read Cory’s new one (his best written book yet) and now I’m rereading Levy’s Hackers.
    It’s great for reading in bed (self-lit so no room light). It’s not so great to be reading in public yet. The PSP hasn’t launched here in New Zealand yet so I get a lot of people oohing and aahing over it.

  11. Bill Seitz Says:

    I’ve read a couple Cory Doctorow books online (on my old palm, specifically). One of them I went back and bought in print.
    I’ve also read a couple pre-pub manuscripts on various generations of PDAs.
    For non-fiction, I’m an obsessive hiliter, so that doesn’t work as well for me.

  12. Paul Reiners Says:

    I’ve read a few whole books in electronic form. All of them were part of my O’Reilly Network Safari Bookshelf (I won’t post the URL because of the bot thing, but it’s easy enough to find with a Google search).
    Most of the books were for work (or at least “arguably work-related”, in the words of Dilbert), so I would read one for a half-hour or so, when I would get into work, while drinking my morning cup of coffee. Safari has a nice feature where you can put bookmarks in your online books.
    If a book is really good and of a general nature (i.e., not just applicable to a specific project at work), I’ll usually buy a hard-copy after I finish reading the electronic copy. I’m pretty sure I did this with your game programming book, actually. Another excellent book I did this with was Paul Graham’s _Hackers and Painters_ book.
    Still, I only do this with programming books; not with, say, novels or books on music.

  13. Jeremy Says:

    Don’t forget the Baen free library
    (the usual)

  14. A.R.Yngve Says:

    I’ve read some classic fiction and non-fiction over the Gutenberg Project… but there is something about the Internet that makes you lose focus — so much text, so little text — so in practice I’ve only managed to read one book from beginning to end.
    And I’ve posted some of my older, unsold novels online. But who reads them?

  15. Sean Says:

    I bought an old black and white Sony Clie last spring. I use it predominantly to read blogs, using plucker and the free sunrise reader for palm. I also have read a number of classic SF from the Baen free library, books on the Free Software movement, Cory Doctorow’s new book, Jim Munro’s short stories and many others. It has changed the way I read fiction. I will still read from a dead-tree book, but enjoy having the e-version always available in my pocket. Currently there are about 20 books on my Clie waiting their turn.

  16. Angus Glashier Says:

    Is it too late – or inappropriate – for me to mention that I have a book online for those who want to try something after Doctorow and Stross? It’s called The Tapestry Of Lies and you can find it at: sleepworker DOT com if you’re interested.

  17. Rudy Says:

    Keep adding online reading comments to this thread, yeah. Maybe I’ll get motivated to post some books myself. Another good one to mention is Richard Kadrey’s Blind Shrike at

  18. Fred Scharmen Says:

    I download and read books on my laptop all the time. I’m traveling this summer so every book that I have on my computer is one less that I have to carry around or leave behind. I’ve read all of Cory’s books, Stross’s, Sterling’s Hacker Crackdown, and a ton of older stuff from Gutenberg as well. I think it’s easier to download a .txt file and read it anywhere than click through a bunch of html pages but that’s just my preference. I can also say that I’ve bought books by all three of the above authors as well.

  19. Misho Says:

    Your blog is very interesint

  20. Dumbledor11 Says:

    It’s not a right opinion, you know…
    See ya!

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