The traditional publishing industry's worst nightmare arrived in Toronto this week when science-fiction author Cory Doctorow addressed the TD National Reading Summit on the burning question of “How to Destroy the Book.”
As one of the world's most successful bloggers, a writer who freely gives away his work as well as selling it – and not least, a genuine expert in the suddenly fraught world of international copyright – this Toronto-born phenom knows as much about wrecking traditional publishing as anyone alive.
For serious students of the art, Doctorow is currently conducting an experiment in both giving away and selling his latest work of self-published fiction, Makers , in every way possible – and scrupulously documenting the financial results in a series of columns in Publishers Weekly.
The novel, about the struggles of technology hackers in a future economic upheaval, is being made available in a dizzying variety of forms – from downloads and “aps” to a deluxe limited edition of 250 copies made at a family-owned bindery near Doctorow's London home, priced at $250 a piece.
But like Little Brother, Doctorow's bestselling young-adult novel of 2008, Makers will be free on his website to any reader with the hard-drive space to store it. Those who want a $15 paper copy will be able to order it from print-on-demand publisher lulu.com.