Book Goggles

I’m a voracious reader, the type who will read cereal boxes if nothing else is available. For me, the Kindle has been a godsend. Books are available at the touch of a button, and the bookstore is nearly infinite. Yeah, there’s something to holding and reading a real book. It feels and smells good, and it’s a work of art on its own.

But with a Kindle I can carry over a thousand books anywhere I go (it’s actually more if you consider the “Complete Works of…” collections I have that are listed as a single book).

I don’t have to hold the pages of a Kindle open with a weight while I’m eating, and if I’m eating ribs or something I can turn pages with my wrist. Also, the Kindle wipes off better if food gets on it. The new Paperwhites are waterproof now, have 32 GB of memory, and an illuminated screen for reading in bed.

The downside is that it’s so very easy to get a new book online. Imagine a regular bookstore where you can buy a book just by tapping it on the shelf. I’d have to bring a wheelbarrow.

And what do you do when your favorite authors aren’t turning out work fast enough? (Or are mostly dead, which is another issue). Then you have to give some new authors a try. With the Kindle online store, they will cheerfully shove large numbers of new works in front of you at every opportunity, with algorithms designed around your previous purchases and clicks. The free sample option makes things even easier. But how do you make the final selections?

In my younger days, there was a somewhat crude term called “Beer Goggles.” It’s when you go to a bar, looking for company, and the night wears on. After enough beers, and enough time, those sketchy-looking people you didn’t really want to approach when you walked in start looking a lot better.*

Same for online book buying. When you are really hard up for something new to read, and recent books from your favorite authors aren’t available, some of the lower tiers start looking a lot more interesting. You know … “Book Goggles.”

Hmmm…maybe this one about a leprechaun private detective would be okay. Or a garage that repairs flying saucers. Dragon romance? Sample looks acceptable. 99 cents? Okay, I’m there, man.

You can strike paydirt this way. The book turns out to be pretty good, and if you’re lucky, the first of an already-existing eight-book series. Or something pops up out of the blue. “What? Ray Bradbury wrote noir detective stories?”

And however your Book Goggle shopping turns out, it sure beats a cereal box.

* I didn’t go to bars when I was young, or drink beer, but I got the concept.

Zorya ready for publishing



After some years, and a lot of time trying to find a publisher for Zorya (my third book) I’m going to be publishing it myself under my Golden Spider Books imprint.

I’ve done the work on the files to put the book up on Amazon in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover version. I’ve got ISBNs from Golden Spider Books. Kindle Direct Publishing makes it easy to build files for all three options, and I have some experience from doing book files for another small publisher.

At this point, I’m waiting for proof copies from Amazon on the paper versions, and my wife is doing another readthrough on the Kindle version. After that, it’s just about pulling the trigger.

The Zorya website is still under construction, and I hope to have buying links up soon along with more content.

Amazon hardcover edition looking good

I got the first test version of my Amazon hardcover edition of Castle Falcon (discussed in the previous post) and I’m quite happy with it.

Lulu casebound on left, Amazon hardcover on right

It’s thicker than the earlier casebound Lulu version, and about a quarter pound heavier. I used cream paper, which looks better. I can sell it a bit cheaper than the Lulu version, too.

Kindle Direct Publishing adds a hardcover option (and it’s about time)

This week, Kindle Direct Publishing has started offering a hardcover (casebound style) option for their KDP paper publishing.

Up until now, KDP (and before that, Createspace) did not have any kind of hardcover option. I have been making gift and review copies of Castle Falcon using Lulu, which has good results but has been much too expensive for creating books for the regular children’s book market.

Book covers

At first I was a little leery of the “cute” illustration my publisher picked for my book Roger Mantis. They explained the appeal to the target readers, and after a while, it grew on me, too.


I’m feeling even better about it now that I’ve seen the new Kindle cover for Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit–Will Travel.


This is the cover I grew up with:


Strange world facts

I got another flag from Google search on my book Castle Falcon. As is often the case, it’s someone out there putting my book online without my permission.

In this case, the website had the country code location “.tk”

That was an unfamiliar code, so out of general curiosity and boredom, I looked it up.

It’s the “nation” of Tokelau, a tiny atoll in the south seas, technically a self-governing state in association with New Zealand. It’s official head of state is still the Queen of England.

Apparently, about a sixth of its entire economy involves handing out internet domains on favorable terms, which makes it very attractive to outfits like bookleggers. It’s almost like the Pirate Kingdom of the Internet, largely because of third-party abuse, not the islanders themselves.

Additional fun fact: Tokelau is the only nation on Earth which is 100 percent renewable energy, with 93 percent photovoltaic, and the rest from burning coconut oil. They need the oil from around 200 coconuts for this every day.

Below, Tolekau, and the Tokelau solar farm. I don’t know where they burn the coconut oil. I wonder if there’s a scientist there somewhere working on a Q-Bomb.

“Pirate” booksellers

There are a number of websites out there that have been selling digital versions of my self-published book, Castle Falcon.

I discover these because I have a general Google tracker set up for the book title, in the fond hope that some review or other reader response will someday show up. What usually shows up is some obscure website that is selling my book in PDF or ebook form.

The most recent one is a site called KissLibrary, which is more sophisticated than most. My book, nicely presented, was for sale for five bucks. I did a quick check to make sure it wasn’t one of the Smashwords channels (it’s not).

I dithered over how to deal with it. The site has a DMCA form available, which at least shows a willingness to be corrected on their placement. I wondered: should I leave the book site up? It’s no real skin off my nose since the book hasn’t been selling anyway, and if someone buys it, at least it might get read.

I finally decided to file the DMCA form. I’m no legal expert, but it seems to me that if you let too many of these “bootleggers” go, it might actually put a legal crimp in your own copyright. Kind of like brand names that aren’t aggressive enough about other people using them generically, and then wake up one morning to find out that their brand actually has become legally generic.

I’m not sure how these books get into the “wild.” Smashwords is the only distributor I use that routinely offers a PDF format for books sold by them. I suspect it would be easy for someone to buy it legally from Smashwords and then reproduce it at will.

So I did this signing in Wisconsin …

On a trip to visit family in the Midwest, my wife suggested setting up a signing at her sister-in-law’s drugstore that also sells some books. So on June 14, I did. The store ordered some books and I set up a table with free bookmarks and trading cards.

Got several customers, including one (1) Actual Child.


L. Poster for signing (address added later)  R. Table setup, with free bookmarks and Roger Mantis baseball cards



L. Okay, it’s not a bookstore, but it’s a good start.  R. Customers. Ben Gavin, in the black shirt, helped me set it all up.


The swag. A bookmark and a Roger Mantis baseball card.