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Friday, March 28, 2014

An editorial about ebooks

The other day, one of the accounts I follow on Twitter posted a link to a downloadable PDF of one of Robert Anton Wilson's books.

I didn't retweet it and I'm not posting a link here. I have enormous respect for the gentleman who posted the Tweet, but I still urge people to purchase new RAW books, buy used books in the resale or trade market or check them out of the library. That's what seems the best interest of Robert Anton Wilson's children, who don't seem to be wealthy and more than likely can use the royalties from the sales of RAW's books. I don't have a problem frankly with the technically illegal circulation of books by authors who have been dead for decades -- I think copyrights in the U.S. seem far too long -- but that does not describe the situation here. Wilson died only about seven years ago. It seems reasonable to respect the literary property rights of his heirs.

I raise the matter because I want to make the point that when no reasonable legal alternative exists, people resort to illegal measures. The title in question cannot be purchased as an ebook on Amazon.

As I write this, Daisy Eris Campbell prepares to mount a stage production of RAW's Cosmic Trigger. Her efforts have deservedly garnered quite a bit of publicity. Want to buy a copy of Cosmic Trigger for your Kindle or Nook so you can read it and see what all of the fuss is about? You can't, because no ebook edition can be purchased.

Much of RAW's fiction have been turned into ebooks, but many of his books remain unavailable in digital format. Fixing that situation seems overdue.

Compare the activity — or inactivity — of the RAW estate with that of some of his contemporaries. Philip K. Dick's literary executor, Paul Williams, worked very hard to keep PKD in the spotlight. Timothy Leary's estate put out a new biography, provided his papers to the New York Public Library and maintains a vigorous Internet presence. Robert Shea's literary executor, Mike Shea, made sure years ago that all of Shea's work became available as ebooks, answers friendly emails and generally works with anyone who wants to keep Shea's work alive. New Falcon has been reprinting the Shike novels. What has the RAW estate done since Wilson's death?


Bobby Campbell said...

I just wrote to New Falcon to offer to translate their RAW books to kindle/iBooks versions.

Worth a shot!

gacord said...

I have guilt. I have one from New Falcon that I've just been too busy to convert. Bobby, let's talk, maybe we can double our efforts.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

There's no reason for you to feel guilt! I wasn't writing about people who step forward and try to help.

gacord said...

Bah, my guilt is self-imposed because the task is unfinished. :-)