Thursday, 29 December 2011


As of January 1, 2012, BeWrite Books is an ‘Ebook-First’ publisher ... lavishing the same precision, experienced and talented editorial, design and technical care on its digital editions as it has on its print books since the turn of our new millennium.

In a nut shell, print is now a by-product of our ebook editions rather than vice-versa.

This innovative shift of emphasis is not made lightly. Not by a long chalk. Not by a looong-looooong chalk, folks. We’ve been carefully and diligently preparing for its inevitability. It is also encouraged by our authors and readers.

It comes after impressively successful ebook-only field trials on some BB publications (our biggest seller in a decade is one of these recent ebook-only productions) and with a huge and independent digital distribution base we’ve painstakingly built, store-by-store, according to complex and strict individual technical requirements and legally nit-picking third-party retail contracts, over the past two years.

And it is backed by heavy financial investment in specialized technology, new and vital company registrations, retained professional services ... and sheer hard work and research by the BB team since we focused on this course in 2010.

Make no mistake; BeWrite Books is a serious and progressive house. We've always kept at least one step ahead of the game.

The result is that a whopping 98% of our readers voted with their credit cards and PayPal payments in 2011 to tell us they prefer to buy BeWrite Books in ebook formats than in paper editions.

And sales are going up, up and away. They're greater than ever and getting greater still by the month.

We won’t be pulling out of print immediately or entirely, and Ingram the biggest book distributor on the planet will continue to deal with our print editions, although we now find we have higher market penetration than even the mighty Ingram when dealing independently with digital.

When readers loudly send us such a clear message, we have to listen ... and our authors have to listen. We expect the public to read what we offer, so we must extend to them the courtesy of hearing and digesting what they have to say in return. Authors and readers should think of themselves as partners whenever a book is opened. Each *collaborator* merits a fair hearing. And the publisher must quickly adjust accordingly. Agreed?

So we’ve moved the goalposts. A new BeWrite Books author’s title must now prove its literary worth in ebook sales to the general reading public before we will publish a printed edition under the BB logo.

We’re putting the reader in the driver’s seat ... right where s/he belongs.

Our publishing house is now among the first – if not THE first – to retain the Old School values of what’s lately become known as ‘traditional’ publishing, but to initially apply them to ebook production.

We don't blush with embarrassment at the inexperienced self-publisher’s disparaging description of established publishing houses and their expert editors as ‘gatekeepers’. We strongly believe that rigorous selection of submissions is key and that perfect editorial and design treatment of accepted and ultimately published work is the reader’s due. We are proud to be the ‘gatekeepers’ who read and work so hard and long to filter the slush pile for quality rather than leaving that tedious job entirely to the reader, who is otherwise bewildered by tens of thousands of raw manuscripts randomly posted with the tap of a key or two at sales websites purely on the whim of their arrogant ‘authors’. Absolutely unregulated instant ‘publication’ benefits nobody.

(It must be honestly said with humility and all due honor that a very few renowned self-publishers – overwhelmingly those who have built their reputations through large and established publishers and who have the nous to expensively contract pro editors, designers and technicians – must not be written off lightly.)

We also believe that a good book is a good book, whether read on paper or on a handy, pocket- and purse-sized ebook-dedicated reading device or tablet.

Existing BeWrite Books authors and those newcomers to whom we’ve already made informal promises are not necessarily affected by our new digital-first policy and may choose which model they wish applied to their works. But if 2012’s entirely new authors don’t achieve an ebooks sales target within a year of their ebook editions release (or if existing BeWriters prefer the new deal) their print rights will be fully restored and they will be FREELY offered perfectly prepared (covered, edited, proofed and designed), ready-for-print files to use as they will as we continue to distribute and plug e-editions for the remainder of the agreement period.

We don't know of  ANY other publisher offering such a clean and generous agreement. You?

Either way, authors win through much higher royalty payments under the new deal and help BB by unburdening us of loss-making print editions (only two percent of our sales, remember, and very costly to produce and maintain where many more that a hundred titles are involved at any given time), whilst taking advantage of returned print rights and freely provided print-ready files to use elsewhere. We can also effectively and freely cross-promote digital and available print.

We firmly believe that any BeWrite author will agree that we sometimes must play hard-ball before a book is ready to run ... but we ALWAYS play fair. 

As of January 1, you'll find the same. That's when we re-open to new and unsolicited submissions, and you can access the detailed warts-n-all information you need at and – for some time to come – still at (Should the website appear at all like the old maroon-colored one and without the new, grey-background banner heading similar to that you now see on this blog, please simply refresh your browser. Any hitch; just drop us a line and we’ll talk you through. You all know we're just an email away,)

We think you’ll find our new bookstore section’s presentation particularly stunning, but please do take time to read and understand the other sections, and especially the new submissions and conditions details, now incorporated in a simple, downloadable and shareable e-booklet of 8,000 words of fine detail and advice. We make no apologies for the length of this section you NEED to understand us and up-to-the-minute industry trends before trusting your valuable work to BB.

Also please note our new and free mini-ebooks to help browsers choose and authors to help us promote their work at the click of the button. Each of these small productions carries full color cover, book notes, conditions, reviews, author biography and picture and a free extract. Promo-to-go at the tap of a key. We’re about 70% of the way through the existing catalog and all titles will be covered by their own mini-ebooks by the end of January.

By the way, the new BeWrite Books website can now read your mind ... well, at least it will identify the device you’re reading on and adjust its presentation accordingly. The fancy clockwork is hidden behind the scenes. Our efforts are largely out of sight, to let the website and not the browser do the work.

Also, we’re producing a free ebook very soon to help authors help us in the major job of getting themselves and their books noticed. Obscurity is the author’s Public Enemy Number One. Please take this fact very, very seriously and join us in getting your name and your work out into the bright light of day.

And let’s hope your readers respond with satisfaction, glowing reviews, and maybe even interact by dropping a private line to their favorite BB authors. If they do PLEASE respond to their thoughtfulness and kindness with a personal note,

So here’s to a Happ-E New Year, folks.
Best Wishes for the best of years. Neil, Tony, Hugh, Sam

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


BeWrite Books’ team, authors and readers are of all ages, colours, nationalities and creeds. But, unlike the ‘outside’ world, we get along like one big, happy clan.

Maybe it’s our shared passion for books and the fascinatingly different characters populating them, the places and eras we're transported to, the previously unexplored possibilities and visions, that promotes such understanding and mutual respect ...

And that makes life such a wonder-filled trip for us all.

Books sans frontiers!

You’re never alone with a book. It’s a pact between you and an author and his or her support group of editors, designers and technicians.

Reading is a shared experience, an exchange of views and stories, dreams and – sometimes – nightmares. Laughs and tears come with the partnership package as in any close friendship.

When did you last close a book, then not sit and think again about the rainbow of life?

Thanks for making 2011 such a busy and interesting year for BB, folks.

In return, we’ll be presenting you with a spanking new website – chock full of surprises – early in January, and with an increased release schedule of sparkling new titles from some of the most gifted authors on the planet over the coming twelve months.

Have a wonderful holiday time with your nearest and dearest – never forgetting the lonely neighbor down the road and those millions of earth-born companions and fellow mortals to whom the next two weeks will be no more than part of a continual struggle against hunger, poverty, despair and fear.

Love, luck and very best wishes to everyone. We’ll be raising our glasses to all points of the compass when the Hogmanay bells ring in New Year in whatever time zones we find ourselves.
Neil, Tony, Hugh and Sam

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Author Alan Lewis is wrapping the parcels and preparing a traditional merry Christmas for his children. But he has an altogether different Santa story to tell the rest of us … and it doesn’t ring with jingling sleigh bells and cheerful ho-ho-hos.

BeWrite Books today (December 2) releases – in paperback and all ebook formats – Alan’s debut novel, The Blood in Snowflake Garden; the garden is the park and murder scene at the heart of a bitterly chilling North Pole where nightmares, rather than dreams, come true. Only blood stains its virgin snow.

The Claymore Dagger finalist asked himself the question all authors must: What if? And Alan, who hails from Tennessee’s Chattanooga, chew-chewed over the puzzle; what if Santa was real in another world, what if he wasn’t the kindly, roly-poly, fun-loving and generous character kids believe him to be, what if his elves were little more than slaves, what if flying reindeer were whipped to work … what if … what if?

Back cover text to The Blood in Snowflake Garden tells you what:

In an alternative universe, Santa’s North Pole City is no mere myth.

But the reality has little to do with the jolly image promoted to the rest of the world. The North Pole is a grim industrial complex where worker elves and flying reindeer rarely live happy and long lives … and where Santa Claus is a booze-sodden wreck.

Detective Max Sneed is dragged out of retirement when Vlad Volsky, Premier of gun-free North Pole City, is mysteriously shot to death in Snowflake Garden.

Prime suspect is Santa himself, suffering alcoholic depression after McCarthy anti-communist witch-hunts in his universe ban him from US airspace.

During the six months’ long polar night, Max is assisted in his investigation by visiting English journalist, Robert Watson, who struggles to resist the advances of Mrs Claus’s pot-induced horniness and is bemused by the complex social interplay between humans and elves.

Within this universe echo the events of our own turbulent sixties when the winding murder investigation becomes tangled with cold war politics, corporate espionage, bitter worker revolt and a powerful civil rights movement that threatens to destroy the fragile tinsel myth.

Author Alan Lewis
Lewis brings us a North Pole struggling to retain its image in the midst of labor disputes, volatile human-elf relations, a discredited Santa, and now the murder of Santa’s right-hand man. With a little grit and a lot of charm, 'The Blood in Snowflake Garden' is a perfect mix of mystery, mayhem and magic. Jaden Terrell, Executive Director of the Killer Nashville Crime Literature Conference and author of the Jared McKean mysteries

Fans of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ will feel at home in Lewis’s ‘The Blood in Snowflake Garden’. Poet and author Sam Smith

Alan Lewis now lives in Nashville with his children. He authored technical guides and manuals for over twenty years but branched out into fiction. In 2006, he took the reins of a writer’s workshop where he has been striving to teach and aid aspiring authors. He also has several published short stories under his belt and other exciting projects in the works. 

His debut novel, The Blood in Snowflake Garden, was a finalist for the 2010 Claymore Dagger Award presented to the best unpublished murder mystery manuscript. It is no longer unpublished.

As of today it is available in paperback and all ebook formats for all electronic reading platforms from all major online stores, many smaller retails and direct from BEWRITE BOOKS.

Author: Alan Lewis. Editor: Hugh McCracken. Cover, text design and technical preparation: Tony Szmuk. Additional input: The BeWrite Books team. Print distribution: Ingram. Digital distribution: BeWrite Books, Canada and BeWrite Books LLC, USA.

And a personal note from Neil Marr: I wondered over this past week just how far away Alan’s ‘alternative universe’ is from our own. Maybe no more than a cat's whisker.

We’ve just witnessed a Black Friday where riots broke out and pepper spray was used by those battling for Christmas bargains in US stores. As stocking-fillers, many bought loss-leader electronic goods churned out by slave-wage Chinese workers in dismal and dangerous conditions that would shame a captain of industry during the gruesome Victorian Industrial Revolution. Credit cards were maxed out, courtesy of 'Santa the Banka' ... and the whole world now knows the cynicism behind a banker’s ho-ho-ho.

Alan’s answer to the ‘what if?’ question is pretty close to home these days, I reckon.

Find out for yourself by reading The Blood in Snowflake Garden. When you’re bursting at the seams with turkey and Christmas pud, there’s still room to feast on food for thought.

Happy weekend and best wishes. Neil et al at BeWrite Books.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Oscar-winning documentary maker Errol Morris’ latest movie, Tabloid, is now becoming a box-office-buster at cinemas around the US. It’ll be on general release in the UK sometime next year and then aired on BBC TV later. The rest of the world will have to wait.

But what’s the big deal? Morris’ film about a former beauty queen who turned sex-slave-driver barely scratches the surface of the mind-boggling story.

The real fun and games surrounding Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon is in ebook editions from BeWrite Books HERE … at a fraction of the price of a cinema seat, and with cheap popcorn at a microwave oven near you. Paperback is available HERE.

Morris’ documentary has been massively reviewed as ‘eccentric’. But the real McKinney isn’t so much eccentric as downright hilarious. And author Anthony Delano – former boss of the very tabloid press that created the legend of the Manacled Mormon – tells it all, crazy-blow-by-curious-blow.

US beauty queen Joyce McKinney hit the international headlines in the seventies when, love-struck by a straight-laced Mormon missionary, she – and a devoted minder – stalked him to England, kidnapped him (soul-saving Mormon underwear and all) and chained him to a bed in a remote country cottage where the magic underpants were immediately confiscated and Joyce had her whacky and wicked way with him on a regular basis and he, presumably, thought of Utah, Latter Day Saints and hummed hymns.

She skipped bail and fled home to America, under one of her many, many exotic aliases and on one of her many, many fake passports, before she could be fully tried for what amounted to charges of the abduction and serial rape by a beautiful woman of a helpless, God-fearing man she'd held captive and lashed to a special love bed she’d had shipped over the Atlantic for the occasion.

This was no laughing matter. Just imagine the sheer torture the poor and dumpy evangelist must have suffered as he lay there, chaps, hapless and helpless beneath a ruthless blonde beauty queen! And spare a thought for the flustered reporters from the raunchy red-tops who battled it out around the word for the low down on the High Priestess of Kinky.

Great tabloid newspaper fodder was that tale. And, wow, did it hit the headlines big time and long time on both sides of the Shining Big Sea Water! But Joyce herself is just one act in the circus ring.

The real stars are the expert trapeze artists, jugglers and lion-tamers; the crafty, cut-throat and amazingly skilled and resourceful journalists who competed, daggers-drawn (until the pubs opened and they were all pals again), to unravel the weirdest tale even the most hard-bitten had encountered. That's why Errol Morris called his movie Tabloid, of course. McKinney was a mere chorus girl to the main act.

Delano’s book (which fired Morris' fancy when he bought it for three hundred bucks as a collector’s piece when the first edition was out of print) tells all in this new, extended and updated edition ... the tragedy and the travesty, the mystery and the almost unbelievably comic of la crème de la crime.

Joyce is now back in the world news in a big way because of the movie, this book ... and because her true identity was discovered accidentally when she boasted on TV of having a litter of puppies cloned from the severed ear of her dead pet dog. That is one time she wasn't telling fibs and little black lies. Even though she’d assumed yet another alias and changed her appearance to spread the cloning tale, baby-boomers clocked her at a glance.

You can read more about Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon and the author and read the first chapter and reviews in the bookstore section of the BeWrite Books website HERE.

The ebook can be bought from any major online ebook store. It’s available for reading on PCs and laptops, all dedicated ebook-reading devices like Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, Apple iPad, etc, etc, etc, and also on iPods and smart phones. And you can buy it direct from BEWRITE BOOKS in all popular digital formats. Paperback from Revel Barker Publishing is HERE.

Here's a wee bonus from cartoonist James Whitworth’s 'Rudge' cartoon below that pretty well sums up how you might feel after you’ve read Delano’s book or even if you’ve just glimpsed the tip of the iceberg in Errol Morris’ much less rib-tickling documentary …

Happy weekend, folks. Neil et all at BeWrite Books

Friday, 18 November 2011


Biggs Performs for the Press Circus on Thursday
The international press circus performed for world famous gangster Ronnie Biggs’ last stand on Thursday.

Well, not so much a ‘stand’ because the grubby thief and cynical conman, still with an ego the size of a hot-air balloon, is now eighty-two, slumped in a wheelchair and can communicate only by poking a shaky forefinger at an alphabet board to spell out the words he chooses to grace us with.

But waste no tears on this flamboyant and hoodwinking hoodlum. Mr Biggs does not merit the kind of final show as that Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite. Biggs was, and still is, a nefarious showman. Honest Henry the Horse would never do the Waltz for Biggsy. There should be no 'benefit' for Ronald Biggs, which is surely what this 5,000-run book is intended to be. At the price, another £100,000 bonanza for the undeserving.

Biggs is blagging US ... again!

Reporters and photographers from countries as far apart as Brazil and Australia – where he’d lived high on the hog after his prison break – arrived at the London launch of a re-hash of his 1994 autobiography for the apology the Biggs publicity machine had promised for the record-breaking 1963 £2.6m cash heist ($75,000,000 in today’s pocket money). They even expected a promise that some of the proceeds from the expensive hard-backed book would go to the surviving family of train driver Jack Mills, so viciously bludgeoned during the 16-man hold-up that he never recovered from the beating before his death from leukemia just seven years later.

Ronnie Biggs reading Delano's Slip-Up
The press corps had travelled a long way for nothing. They didn’t get either. Instead, Biggsy’s laboriously moving finger wrote that he would be remembered as a ‘lovable rogue’.

And he boldly states in his book, Ronnie Biggs – the Odd Man Out – The Last Straw: ‘If you want to ask me whether I have any regrets about taking part as one of the train robbers, I will answer ‘NO! I will go further: I am proud to have been one of them.’

There’s more HERE, if you can stomach it, and the story is all over today’s media, whatever corner of the globe you happen to be in.

BeWrite Books says that Ronnie was indeed a rogue … but by no means a lovable one. He is the most insidious criminal of our age because he – too often successfully – made the most outrageous and violent of crimes a cause for celebration. He raised applause for cocking a snook at justice and fair play.

He made at least two generations accomplices to The Great Train Robbery.

Why believe a word (supposedly) written by a villain who admits that his entire adult life was dedicated to crime, deception, lies and evasion of responsibility?

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth behind the legend is told unerringly and reliably by former national newspaper chief, Anthony Delano, in SLIP-UP, available in all ebook formats and paperback. Delano’s account is Big News, not Biggs’ news.

Author Anthony Delano
Delano said today: “According to the pre-launch publicity of this new edition of his memoire, Ronnie Biggs was going to ‘apologise’ for the Great Train Robbery. Not just for his part in it but for the whole thing, including the clout on the head that someone gave the train driver.

“Wasn’t Ronnie, of course. He never even got on the train. But he did get away with sacks stuffed with stolen tax-payers' money. More importantly, he got away with not serving the best part of a thirty-year prison sentence.

“Stroke-bound now, he’s said to have revised his biography Odd Man Out by collaborating with a ghostwriter via a letter-board. There won’t be too many fresh words, then, apart from the additional three words to the title; The Last Straw. And we’re still waiting for remorse he will never show.”

By the time Ronnie’s ghost writer, Christopher Pickard (and a few other people), wrote Odd Man Out they had the advantage of discovering exactly how it was that he was able to stay in Brazil rather than growing old in a British prison. They’d read Delano’s blow-by-blow book on the whole shebang, Slip-Up: How Fleet Street found Ronnie Biggs and Scotland Yard Lost Him.

Only after THAT did Biggs know what really happened to make him the world’s most celebrated fugitive.

Ronnie Biggs and the masked mob he was a part of raided the Royal Mail train between Glasgow and London under cover of darkness on a lonely stretch of track and toted off sacks stuffed with banknotes. Police eventually rounded up the gang and the Great Train Robbers were sent to jail for a long, long time. The bulk of their loot was never recovered.

Innocent and bloody, the unconscious Jack Mills was rushed to ER from the UK crime scene of the century. He also never recovered. (I know that because I got to know Jack's wife and family -- they were not criminals; they were like thee and me. They didn't know Dad could go to work and have his head mercilessly bashed in by greedy ne'er-do-wells just for doing the job of driving a late night freight train. They didn't know he wouldn't be back for breakfast that morning,)

But the 'fun' really began when Biggs, with twenty-eight years of his sentence still to serve escaped from one of Britain’s most ‘secure’ prisons, went on the run and became the world’s most wanted man. 

He also became a folk hero as, time and again, he gave Scotland Yard’s crack squad the slip all over the globe by blowing his unearthed swag in hush-money, bribes and living like a celebrity who didn’t want to get out of wherever he was.

As the police farce gave the public mounting glee, it was crack newspaper reporters from the world press hub, London’s Fleet Street, who tracked him down in Australia and again in Brazil, returning with world scoops, while Scotland Yard’s top men returned hapless, empty-handed and red-faced to ridicule.

For thirty-six years, Biggsy lived the good life in Rio de Janeiro, laughing along with his countless millions of fans, basking in glory, and untouchable in a country with no extradition treaty. Whilst swearing loyalty to a devoted wife in England, he sported beauties on his arm at lavish parties where champagne and caviar went down in celebration like tea and doughnuts at gloomy police station inquests into their failures. His smiling face was on tee-shirts – every bit the icon Che Guevara had become by then.

He recorded songs and flouted his glamour-life freedom in world media ... as plodding Scotland Yard blushed and blundered.

Biggs even recorded a song with the sickening ‘Sex Pistols’ called No One is Innocent. It includes the words: “God save Martin Bormann and Nazis on the run. They wasn’t being wicked, God, that was their idea of fun. God save Myra Hindley God save Ian Brady. Even though he’s horrible and she ain’t what you call a lady.” Hindley and Brady tortured and killed children; the horrific Moors Murderers. The couple recorded the screams of their little victims as they died in agony and terror. We know what Bormann and his Nazis did. God save Ronnie Biggs, too, was the message.

Biggs believed his own publicity. But Anthony Delano’s insider story – unique, insightful, often hilarious – is a true, bow-by-blow, account of every slip-off by Biggs, slip-in by the press and SLIP-UP by police.

A major BBC film of the book was hastily blocked by the man in charge of the chase – the famously infamous Slipper of the Yard (unkindly referred to in some circles as ‘Slip-Up of the Yard’) – when he threatened legal action; not because of any inaccuracy in Delano’s work, but because he claimed the actor portraying him went too far in caricaturing him as a clown.

BeWrite Books has released the very first digital editions of the book that became Biggsy’s own favourite (that’s him reading it in fun and sun in one of the pictures carried here), had Biggsy fans in stitches, and is an embarrassment to Scotland Yard to this day.

But the final slip-up wasn’t by the police. It was by Ronnie Biggs this week as he was wheeled into his press conference to launch a new claim to fame, fanfared by Elvis’ Jailhouse Rock, sporting movie star sunglasses, with snazzy skull-and-cross-bones braces clipped to the pants of his flashy suit, expensive designer shoes on his useless feet.

This was a dying man’s last opportunity to express remorse, for a full apology to the country he stole from, to the principle of justice he ridiculed, to the millions around the world he’d hoodwinked into thinking him a modern-day Robin Hood, a promise to turn over every penny the book earns to the family of the late Jack Mills or a charity.

He didn’t rise to the occasion. But with some effort, he did rise to a cynical laugh as the cameras snapped. It had been Biggsy's last chance and our last straw. He laughed in our faces.

Ronnie Biggs is what he always was – a mere skeleton of humanity in fancy dress. A ruthless thief, still living on stolen time.

His mouth hung open and his tongue flopped grotesquely like that of a man swinging from a gallows rope. He uttered not a coherent word yesterday, leaving his Brazilian son. Michael, to play ventriloquist to the dummy. Why should we expect his self-serving book to say anything more than Biggs did in his first and last press conference on the soil of his home country? Nothing.

SLIP-UP. Author: Anthony Delano. Editor: Revel Barker: Ebook editions designed and produced by Tony Szmuk. Additional input from the BeWrite Books Team: PAPERBACK from Revel Barker Publishing

Happy weekend. Neil et al at BeWrite Books

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Young Karl Kofoed always watched the skies. And when he graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art in the USA, he landed a dream job as a technical illustrator for the aerospace industry. But his vision stretched for light years beyond our own earthly clouds and higher than any plane could fly.

In the forty-six years since his career achieved lift-off, Karl’s artist’s eye has roamed the surface of planets in solar systems galaxies away. So astute and vivid is his vision that NASA used his images in planning its own adventurous mission to distant Saturn.

For decades, he’s been celebrated in the world of Science Fiction for his breath-taking book covers and illustrations for scores of magazines. Then he exchanged his brushes and pens for the keyboard – at least for a while.

And today, BeWrite Books internationally releases his first SF novel, the far-sighted Jupiters Reef in paperback and all digital formats.

You can read more about Karl Kofoed and Jupiter’s Reef  HERE. The back cover text tells us:

Alex Rose is on the brink of the greatest discovery in the history of space exploration.

And he’ll break every rule in the book to make it.

He keeps his criminal record secret. He steals and modifies an interplanetary ship to probe a cosmic storm system three times the size of earth. And he falls in forbidden love with a girl who’s perfect in every way – just as she was engineered to be by genetic scientists on Mars.

Posing as a miner on Jupiter’s sulfur moon, Io, Alex is not there for the superpay … just for the Great Red Spot on the giant planet. Something beneath its swirling clouds is alive and has been waiting eons for his arrival.
Mary Seventeen is a clone, created to service men and to be a biological radio for communicating to MarsCorp from deep space.

Together they will risk everything to meet Alex’s destiny and prove the existence of Jupiter’s Reef of Life.

Like his illustrated work, Kofoed’s Jupiter’s Reef lures the reader with a palpable and thrilling sense of a world as alien to humans as it is full of wonder … and danger.

Karl Kofoed
Karl’s first voyage into self-produced Science Fiction (rather than covering the work of other stars in the genre) was his famous and lavishly illustrated documentary-styled Galactic Geographic series in Heavy Metal magazine and the subsequent book, Galactic Geographic Annual 3003: Earth Edition.

BeWrite Books is currently working on a new edition, fully revised, redesigned and enriched with new material. So look out for Galactic Geographic: 3012 later this year. This edition will be specially prepared with spectacular full colour digital presentation in mind. It will be our own first foray into the exciting new ground of colour ebook production.

And it’s coming into being because we agree with what Karl said when we spoke about his work recently: “The future is today!”

Even with coming-up seven decades under his belt, Karl sets his calendar a millennium ahead of other earthlings’.

This foresight and his imaginative work became part of NASA’s Cassini Mission to Saturn, providing what the mission chief deemed the most potentially accurate views of the planet’s moons. Kofoed’s uncanny knack of seeing what our most powerful telescopes couldn’t proved itself on the mission and became the water-cooler talk of astronomers around the world. Some of the images NASA worked from are HERE.

But he isn’t alone on the bridge when it comes to vision. Alongside, as he works on his art, literature and the expert restoration of old photographs considered beyond saving by others, is wife Janet, a hugely gifted creator of futuristic jewelry. You can see examples of their work and how they are mutually inspirational at KOFOED DESIGN.

They think alike, even to the extent that each have a daughter from a previous marriage … both young women named Lisa!

Multi-award-winning Karl, who has also worked as a TV set designer and promotional art director for more than a dozen prestigious magazines, said: “You can’t work alongside talented science fiction authors for long without catching the writing bug yourself.

The Fountains of Enceladus, one of the pictures
that amazed NASA and atronomers around the world
“I cut my teeth on two novels outside the genre, and then came Jupiter’s Reef. I’ve also completed an SF trilogy that’s ready to fly.

“And I’m looking forward immensely to working on Galactic Geographic: 3012 with the BeWrite Books team. It’s an exciting project and it seems fitting that it should be presented in 21st Century digital form for state-of-the-art reading devices that, until recently, were considered a science fiction dream themselves.”

Jupiter’s Reef can be bought in paperback and digital formats from the BeWrite Books  and all major online bookstores. The paperback is also available on order from brick and mortar bookshops worldwide.

INFO. Author: Karl Kofoed. Editor: Hugh McCracken. Cover Image: Karl Kofoed. Design and technical preparation for print and digital editions: Tony Szmuk. Additional input: The BeWrite Books team.

Happy weekend, folks. Neil Marr et al at BeWrite Books

PS: The first six readers of the above to answer the following three questions can claim an ebook copy of Jupiter's Reef in the digital format of their choice (Mobi, ePub or PDF) from

1) Of which NASA mission did Karl Kofoed's art work become a part?

2) Where is Alex Rose's place of work?

3) What is the working title of Karl Kofoed's upcoming color illustrated BeWrite Books release?

Friday, 28 October 2011


Just for once, a wee personal blog to thank everyone for understanding and patience when I suddenly went as blind as a bloody bat a couple of months ago.

My first cataract surgery (a doddle) went A-1 this week and now I have one eye (almost) back on the job. Its twin will join the team during the first week of December. Right now, the two Celtic green orbs are at war and I see double after more than ten minutes or so in front of a screen. Please bear with me a tiny while longer.

Meantime, authors especially, don’t blame your individual BeWrite Books editor or Tony on tech and design for delays. They’re as on-the-ball as ever. Hold ups are all my fault because I must take a close look at all, post-edit, author-editor corrected manuscripts as the supposed ‘fresh eye’ before we go to print and ebook-live. Surprising what such a third eye – detached from the initial and often extended editorial process – can spot and correct in the nick of time.

And for a couple of months now that eye's been on wildcat strike.

Promised pre-Christmas releases will be produced. Cross my eyes, they will.

What sets BeWrite Books above even the Big Six – let alone the self-publisher – is attention to fine detail. I don’t need to ask those authors we work with whether they’d prefer a slight delay in publication to slap-dash results. We don’t have slap-dash authors. They scream their preference from the rooftops ... quality -- title by quality title. Manuscripts can be in nit-picking edit for a year or more. BeWrite Books does not do slap-dash.

All on the BeWrite Books team agreed that my temporary blindness would not threaten that ethic. As a minnow in a sea of shark- mediocre- and trash-infested slush, it's our saving grace. You'll never know how much I need to thank Tony, Hugh and Sam for making the decision to hold rather than rush and risk flaws.

Just for fun, let me tell you about this rare galloping cataract hitch I suddenly encountered. It really does have its up-side.

I can identify to the very night when I first realised something was wrong. A full moon had just risen and was flashing its signal across the Mediterranean Sea to my wee terrace a couple of hundred yards above. But I didn’t see the usual dappled grey dish ... I saw a ‘moonburst’ – a pyrotechnic display of exploding silver lights, enhanced by haloes of vividly coloured rings.

Sure that this was a unique cosmic event, I called out Skovia and roused all the neighbours. They saw nothing unusual. Even with binoculars and the special glasses we'd saved from the last solar eclipse.

From there in, things got even more psychedelic.

As my sight quickly faded, day by day and, noticeably, hour by hour, lights became my world. Wonderful lights. The glint from a wine glass, a candle flame, a sparkle from Skovia’s bracelet or engagement ring; all became starbursts of fabulous colour. I couldn’t see the glass, the candle or Skovia. I only saw the shining of them. What a thrill!

For the first time, I doubted John Lennon’s claim that his Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds title was an innocent coincidence and that the song’s initials didn’t imply that marmalade skies and kaleidoscope eyes were the result of a tab of acid that tends to dilate the pupils and cause visual hallucination. Skovia had kaleidoscope eyes and I saw marmalade skies -- and I don't do drugs heavier than a decent Highland malt or pure Virginia tobacco in my meerschaum pipes. Maybe with a dash of Perique from St James' Parish where it's exclusively grown.

I traveled in early morning darkness to surgery this week. The long, long motorway, the deep tunnels to Nice with their white, red, blue, yellow signs, the tail lights of vehicles ahead and headlights of those whizzing by in the opposite direction provided an ongoing firework display I’d never believed could happen this side of heaven. Fireworks blaze and fade. But these explosions didn't burn out and dim; as long as I looked, they existed.

Even the utterly painless and speedy wee operation (which I’d dreaded, because I have a thing about eyes) presented a cubist surrealism and colour beyond my dreams.

It’s famously said that what doesn’t kill you strengthens you. I think that’s crap. Tell it to an armless and legless victim of a war or a car crash. Becoming housebound as I lost the ability to walk this past decade didn't exactly broaden my own horizons. It did encourage more hours at the desk, though.

But some seemingly daunting experiences like my last can – if you’ll pardon the expression – give you a new insight on the world around us. I saw things I wasn’t meant to see in the regular course of nature. This weird 'ailment' opened my eyes and my mind to the utter poetry of our surroundings.

For a while there, I lost the words, folks.


But I saw the light.

When I next look, your words will shine all the brighter. I’ll see the glisten of every facet of a phrase. A sentence could become a constellation.

I always prided myself on being a head above the herd in this crazy word game, but maybe I’ll be a better editor for being blind-sided by life butting in when I least expected it.

Happy weekend. Neil

Monday, 10 October 2011


Kurt Vonnegut famously said: ‘Science is magic that works.’

But what about the spells that make that magic ... the Science Fiction that works?

Only two blogs ago, we pointed out that Captain James T Kirk of the Star Ship Enterprise was using cell phones, tablet computers – and even ebook-reading devices – on his Star Trek voyages when Steve Jobs was still in short pants.

The ‘fazer’ stun guns with various power settings, used by Capt Jim and his crew, were not the pre-cursors of today’s notoriously ubiquitous Tasers, as is often thought. The Taser is actually an acronym and a tribute to the author who dreamed up the possibility: Thomas A Swifts Electric Rifle exactly a century ago, and sixty years before scientist Jack Cover made Tom Swift’s idea a reality, never forgetting the visionary author who’d inspired his work.

Less than thirty years before man landed on the moon, a scientist was ridiculed in the US congress when he suggested he could build a rocket that would soar through the earth’s atmosphere.

Science fiction was loudly predicting space travel in the 1800s. Cyrano de Bergerac – he of the re-entry capsule-sized nose – wrote his Voyage to the Moon in 1654 ... more than three centuries before Neil Armstrong took his ‘one small step’ and planted the first human boot-print in the dust of the lunar surface. Folks of the time (they hadn’t even invented flared trousers) thought Cyrano was a loony. But, as it turned out, he could see even farther than his own impressive nose.

We’re surrounded by the gadgets of Science Fiction alchemy that foreshadowed the magic of science that works.

The evidence is in our homes, in our pockets and wallets, in our hospitals and schools, in our offices and factories, flying over our heads (Leonardo Da Vinci even designed the helicopter way before folks in the early 20th Century still thought hot air balloons were pretty nifty), and their dreams have been driving down our streets as long as anyone alive today can remember. For some of us, it’s actually implanted in our bodies.

Cloning is a reality, our interplanetary probes are already sending back signals from distances that can only be measured conveniently in terms of the speed of light, Cern in Switzerland has conquered the mysteries of anti-matter and recently discovered particles that travel at speeds beyond that of light itself. Multiverses and time travel are seriously studied by those with brains the size of planets, like Marvin, Douglas Adams’ paranoid android. Even artificial life itself, ain’t so artificial any more. Could be that our universe is a Matrix-style computer simulation, scientists now posit ... as did the old comic book’s mad Brainiac.

On the dark-side, Sci Fi also foresaw doomsday bombs, death rays, guided missiles, man-made global catastrophe, world warfare and lethal pandemics ... not to mention the kind of plastic surgery that turned Michael Jackson’s face into a pretty close match for Mary Shelley’s Dr Frankenstein creation back in 1823.

You’re reading this on a computer – a machine foretold by Sci Fi writers generations ago. And if you’re planning a video call to your old aunt half a world away this afternoon, spare a warm thought for evil Emperor Ming in the Flash Gordon comic strip and early kids’ cinema and TV series. And, of course, for NASA’s good old Voyager space probe that, like ET, never fails to phone home from mind-boggling billions of miles away.

And – through the imagination of author and poet Sam Smith – BeWrite Books beat ’em to it again with Sam’s superb The End of Science Fiction.

The backdrop to the book is that, contrary to scientific consensus, our universe's expansion is gaining pace. When it begins to contract, it will do so at an ever-accelerating rate that could leave us with less than a week’s warning of the end of everything in the cosmos; a Big Crunch that would then become another in ye gods only know how many Big Bangs that continually – billions of years apart – start the whole process over again from scratch.

This month, the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to a three-man team of US-born egg-heads for proving that good ol’ Sam was right. They discovered that the universe IS expanding at an accelerating pace, just as Sam had predicted. And that had taken them by surprise.

Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess presented findings that overturned the conventional idea that the expansion was slowing 13.7 billion years after the Big Bang. It will reach a point where the universe will start to implode. Must have been another terrible surprise to them.

Hate to say 'we told you so,' Nobel Committee, but Sam’s The End of Science Fiction shows we did. And once again fiction was one giant leap ahead of Science Fact!

Sam said: ‘The Nobel winners reckon that, so long as we keep looking we will have billions of years’ warning in that the doppler effect will shift the light coming our way into the red spectrum. But this is from the team who initially presumed they were going to measure the rate of the universe’s slowing expansion and who instead found it to be accelerating, as per my hypothesis, couldn’t explain the acceleration and so came up with the theory of ‘dark matter’ playing games with gravity.

‘We don’t fully understand yet the effects of gravity, the team admits. So why not, as in The End of Science Fiction, where I outguessed them with an ever-accelerating rate of expansion, as the universe implodes, star systems impacting with star systems, won’t the ever-increasing mass increase the effects of gravity and pull the universe’s contents, faster and faster, back to another Big Bang? Snap!

‘My book rests its case.’

The current cover image on The End of Science Fiction is the first picture to show two galaxies in collision and dying in a cosmic firework display, light years away from Planet Earth. It’s eye-witness proof of scientific theory that these things do happen. Worlds do end. And so will universes. The photograph was taken by the wonderful Hubble orbiting space telescope and was reproduced by kind permission of NASA to BeWrite Books editor Neil Marr.

Of the imploding universe – Sam’s fictional hunch, the scientists’ later factual discovery – the Nobel Committee said: ‘It’s an enigma, perhaps the greatest in physics today.’

Perlmutter, 52, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California, Berkeley, will receive half the $1.5 million prize. The other half will go to Schmidt, 44, at the Australian National University in Weston Creek, Australia, and Riess, 41, an astronomy professor at Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

‘One of the truly great discoveries in the history of science, and one whose implications are not fully understood,’ said Paul Steinhardt, a physics professor at Princeton University.

Sam? Well Sam Smith (of a certain age that makes these Johnny-come-lately scientists mere whippersnappers) wasn’t mentioned at the prize-giving ceremony in Stockholm or in the acres of news print that followed worldwide. Rude of them, we feel. What to do to honour Sam?

Tony’s just wrapping up the six-monthly BeWrite Books royalties payments and tells me there ain’t likely to be $1.5 million left in the kitty as a bonus. So the best we can do is award Sam the not-so-ignoble ‘BeWrite Bobel Prize for Beating the Boffins at Their Own Game’, and a new cover and re-release of The End of Science Fiction. Another triumph of fiction over science.

Author Sam Smith
And the first half dozen readers of this blog (or anywhere else it’s circulated) to drop me an email (email BB) will get a free copy … in the spirit of the age, in ebook format of choice rather than old-fashioned print. After all, during his star date period, only Captain Jean-Luc Picard reads printed books; and he thinks of them as quaint curios of a bygone age, like his penny whistle, the riding crop he uses on the holodeck, trying (and embarrassingly failing) to smoke a cigarette as a Raymond Chandler-style private eye from the 1950s.

Of course, Sam’s an author and poet (spurring the efforts science is a a mere sideline to him), so his Bobel Prize-Winning fast-stretching, fast-imploding hypothesis – what he once described to me as the ‘Elastic Band Effect’ – is merely the cosmic drama against which the very human drama of The End of Science Fiction is set. Here’s my original back cover text.


No matter how important your job … would YOU turn up for work
knowing that you and every living being on the planet will be dead before pay day?

A beautiful young woman is brutally murdered – just as governments around the world announce that the universe will end in five days’ time.

The planet Earth’s seven billion human beings deal with their impending extinction in seven billion different ways.

But amid global chaos, dedicated detective Herbie Watkins stays on the case, determined to discover the killer against a merciless clock that’s ticking away his own final hours.

Is he insanely obsessed, or is he the last sane man in the history of the human race?

Sam Smith weaves a unique cop story of a unique cop against a unique backdrop in a unique page-turner of a book.

No count-down novel, no disaster book, no police saga has ever been written to thrill the reader and plumb the depths of the human soul as does The End of Science Fiction. It is the last word in SF and crime.

You will read this book and over again, asking new and challenging questions of yourself and formulating new answers every time you re-open this outstanding work from the pen of an author who demands one-sitting novel reading.

You can read more about the book, download a free extract and see more about Sam Smith HERE.

Have fun folks. I’ve read EOSF a dozen times and never tire of it. Yup, it’s one of those rare books that always hold pride of place on your shelf – virtual or otherwise.

Best wishes. Neil, Tony, Sam, Hugh et al at BB

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


BB Offers Publishers and Agents Ebook Production And Distribution ... Fast!
Imprint LIMITROPHE PUBLISHING Launched This Week

BeWrite Books this week launched Limitrophe Publishing to offer full digital production to other publishers, agencies and foreign-rights management organizations on a no-fees basis.

The new imprint is the result of over a decade’s careful industry monitoring and the past two years of heavy investment in state-of-the-art technology, retained specialist services and the creation of a worldwide independent distribution base. Only a tiny fraction of this new capacity can be used by BeWrite Books itself.

Partner publishers with large current catalogs and back-lists, agencies with out-of-print titles and foreign rights holders seeking to release English language ebook editions of their works will usually receive seventy percent return on sales after third-party discount/commission. Ebooks sold from a soon-to-open, stand-alone, Limitrophe Publishing eBookstore will be subject to zero retail commission.

BeWrite Books Technical and Design Director Tony Szmuk said, ‘As our technical and distribution side developed in leaps and bounds, we realized that BeWrite Books – which, with its small editorial team, can effectively release only a dozen to fifteen exclusive new titles a year – had grown too big for its boots. We can use only an incredibly small percentage of current capacity for BB itself. And there is still much room for that capacity to increase according to demand.

‘So we got to work structuring Limitrophe Publishing. We offer a no-fees and high-royalty arrangement to houses of repute and established agencies that might not yet be fully geared-up to meet the huge new demand for digital reading – especially to those that must cope with large live catalogs and back-lists. And we will process their books perfectly and quickly. The service will not be open to self-publishing operations.

‘We have no doubt that many may view Limitrophe Publishing as a kind of stop-gap answer to a pressing need, so flexible contracts will be short term, contain inbuilt quality guarantees, and there will be unchallenged termination when a house feels ready to take back the digital reins on any or all of its titles. At that stage, we will freely offer what assistance we can.

‘Rather than bombard prospective clients, willy-nilly, with lengthy material, we will send a detailed proposal strictly by request or ask those interested to visit our new website, where the proposal is broken into sections of specific interest and all contact email addresses are listed.'

Limitrophe Publishing Editorial Director, Neil Marr, added, 'We've signed a core team of professionally qualified and highly experienced sub-contracted copy-editors to stand in when a house's own editorial resources are too stretched to handle final proof-reading of material before publication.

'And we've adapted the old wartime expression PDQ as an informal motto ... "Perfect Darned Quick".'

The following from etymologist Michael Quinion at


A young guest in the ancient and renowned Lexicophilia Club, who ought to know better, buttonholes the oldest member in seclusion of the James Murray Memorial Library.
‘Limitrophe? That looks foreign.’
‘Your perspicacity astounds me. It was introduced from French by English members of the diplomatic corps in the eighteenth century, when – as you may know – French was the language of diplomacy.’
‘So what did French diplomats mean by it?’
‘Situated on the frontier; bordering another country. As a noun, border-land.’
‘And where did the French get it?’
‘From Latin “limitrophus”, lands set apart for the support of troops on the frontier.’
‘I don't have any Latin. It’s all Greek to me.’
‘Astonishing. You’re actually half right. The second part is indeed Greek (“trophos”, supporting) but the first is from Latin “limes”, a limit or boundary.’
‘That’s enough etymology, thanks.’

‘Within these walls, young man, we can never have too much etymology.’

‘I’ve never seen it before.’
‘Why am I not surprised? But your observation is accidentally perspicacious. Unlike French, where it’s often to be encountered, it has always been rare in English.’

‘Examples please.’
‘Pass me Sir James Rennell Rodd’s Social and Diplomatic Memories, if you’d be so kind. Thank you. Grand man. First-class diplomat. Got his KCMG for sorting out that nasty Fashoda business in Africa in 1899.

‘Here we are: “Countries limitrophe with Germany, such as Belgium, Holland, and perhaps Denmark”.

‘And I can quote from a work by another diplomatist, Sir Charles Eliot. In his Hinduism and Buddhism – it appeared in 1921 in three volumes, absolutely splendid stuff, his life’s work, you know – he wrote: “In the reign of Mithridates the Parthian Empire was limitrophe with India and possibly his authority extended beyond the Indus”.’
‘These are very old.’
‘Not as old as all that, young man. But I take your point. It has always been rather a scarce word and it seems to have fallen even further out of favour during the past century.’
‘So nobody uses it these days?’
‘It’s still to be found if you would take the trouble to look. For example, “This belt of sovereign states is the Great Limitrophe: a kind of buffer zone separating Russia from the true centers of both European and Asian civilization”. That’s from Russia in Search of Itself, by James H Billington, published in 2004.

‘And here’s another, from 2008: “This stretch of international boundary, which the Colorado River forms, is known as the limitrophe”. That’s in Ecosystem-based Management in the Colorado River Delta, whatever that means, by Karen Hae-Myung Hyun.’
‘Why don’t we just say “border-land” or “bordering”?’
‘We would then lose an elegant word with which we can illuminate our discussions of political and economic geography.’
‘Show off your obscure learning, you mean?’
‘Impertinent whippersnapper! Enough! Away with you!’

And that’s all, folks.
Neil, Tony et al

Saturday, 24 September 2011


There are many good reasons for reading, and one has just entered my head. If someone don’t read while a-living, someone certainly can’t when a-dead. Anonymarr (circa five minutes ago)

My first and last attempt at poetry, I promise ya, folks. Painful, eh? I wasn’t cut out to be a poet. Or a castrato singer, come to that.

But this nonsense rhyme (adapted from a be-whiskered English joke about drinking and that’s even older and less witty than I am) brought on more thoughts about ‘the book’ itself.

Love, the songs rapturously advise us, lasts forever and a day (divorce is not an option in love songs, it seems). But how long can words survive the death of their author: A century, a millennium, three millennium before the last copy crumbles to dust … or for infinity, complete and fresh as a daisy in a digital ebook form – millions or even billions of them as time goes on and on and on, classics of old and classics yet to be born? Even countless books of more minor or niche importance right down to an in-the-family memoir by some obscure Joe or Jane Doe in Podunk could live forever (give or take that extra day).

Julie Christie in Fahrenheit 451
And how much precious printed work was lost forever in the fires at the Great Library of Alexandria and by book-burning religions and extremist political regimes over the centuries? Never let Ray Bradbury’s magnificent Fahrenheit 451 Science Fiction warning be forgotten. A scarily close to home story in which books are illegal and mass incinerated by a brutal government with a vested interest in popular ignorance. (Not that anyone could easily forget that with the gorgeous Julie Christie in the movie version’s lead role).

There are many good reasons for e-reading, and they enter my head daily. And they enter the head of top-flight Science Fiction author Robert J. Sawyer, who’s offered us his own good reasons for a decade-long love affair with the unprinted word … for words that will exist as long as there’s a virtual cloud adrift in our planet’s skies. And maybe an information-seeded cloud that can travel light years and into the darkest reaches of the universe as long as electricity is a part of cosmic nature. Who knows what intelligent life form billions of years and galaxies away on Planet Xzog may read one of Rob’s already far-reaching stories of the maybe and the probably-will-be?

Rob, 51, switched from non-fiction success to Science Fiction dreams thirty years ago, and with two of the field’s most coveted awards – the Nebula and the Hugo – standing as bookends to his twenty-plus published, hugely popular novels and three short story collections, his name is honoured by SF aficionados everywhere.

He’s born, bred, educated, writes full time and is married to Carolyn Clink in Canada. Currently he and Carolyn live in Mississauga, Canada’s newish but fastest growing city; one of its very greenest, and proudly boasting a multi-cultural population and passion for the arts.

Perhaps all the qualities of his adopted home town explain this eager embracing of the ebook concept when he moved in – ebooks, after all, are the fastest growing area of publishing, the greenest, the most multi-cultural and, without a doubt, a passionately artistic literary advance: The greatest giant leap since Gutenberg knocked out a flat-bed printing engine from an old wine press in his cellar 600 years ago and made the book available to the common man for the very first time.

Rob also finds time for public readings and lectures and teaches writing at university level. He judges serious writing contests, has served as writer-in-residence and as book critic; and his books are part of major university and high school literature curricula in Canada and the US. He’s made more than 150 TV appearances, hundreds of radio shows and featured in countless newspaper and magazine articles.

And somehow he still squeezes in the hours for A HELPFUL AND FASCINATING BLOG  and to informally mentor writers in development. No wonder Rob is a popular and well-loved star in the literary galaxy.

And here’s what he has to tell us about ebooks:


Author Robert J. Sawyer
This week marks my tenth anniversary as a reader of ebooks. I got in early because, as a science-fiction writer, I’d long been expecting this technology. After all, Captain Kirk read reports off a wedge-shaped device back in 1966, and the astronauts in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey used tablet computers for viewing documents.

I tried lots of devices early on: Palm OS personal-digital assistants with tiny screens, early dedicated devices with monochrome LCD screens (such as the long-gone Franklin eBookman and RCA REB-1100), and later, first-generation e-ink devices (such as the iRex iLiad).
Several things immediately convinced me this was better than reading on paper.

First, even early on, most ebook systems offered built-in dictionaries. In the days of paper books, I rarely bothered to haul a dictionary off the shelf; now, whenever I encounter a word whose meaning I’m not exactly sure of, I effortlessly look it up.

Second, ebooks let you set the font size to whatever you’re comfortable with. As your eyes get older, you’ll find e-reading is much more pleasant, since every title is automatically available in a large-print edition.

Third, having an infinitely big library without it taking up any space is great — and to have that library be portable is fantastic. This year, I’ve travelled through all 24 time zones — right around the world. Having hundreds of books with me on that trek was heaven for a compulsive reader.

Fourth, searching: when I’m doing research, the ability to search in a book for the specific term I’m looking for is indispensable.

Fifth, free public-domain classics: maybe there’s an irony in using twenty-first-century technology to read nineteenth-century books, but I’m way better read today because of PROJECT GUTENBERG.

I heard Margaret Atwood pooh-poohing dedicated ebook readers a while ago, saying you can’t use them in the bathtub. Actually, Margaret, you can: just seal them in a Ziploc bag, and you’re good to go, and if you drop it, you’re fine – whereas a paper book is ruined if it gets soaked. (Yes, you can put a paper book in a baggie, too – but you can’t change the page once it’s in there; you easily can with an ebook reader.)

One constantly hears people saying they don’t like reading off computer screens and so will never read ebooks. Well, yes, it’s true that you can read off such screens – but you can also read ebooks on devices such as the Kobo Touch, Kindle 3G, Sony, and Nook and a host of others, which all have modern e-ink displays that are as easy on the eyes as printed paper. As I’ve often said, the single biggest barrier to widespread adoption of ebooks is that most people still haven’t seen a dedicated ebook reader.

I very much like e-ink devices, but I also do much of my reading on my iPhone 4 (where, in my opinion, the Kobo app runs circles around the Kindle app – and not just because Kobo recognizes that full justification looks awful on narrow screens, and so gives you the option of turning it off).

One of the biggest pluses of reading ebooks on smartphones is that you can do it in the dark. I turn the brightness way down on my iPhone, switch to the Kobo app’s night-reading mode (which gives me white letters on a black background), and read to my heart’s content.

Books are my life. And I’m proud of my Canadian heritage. But I’ve got to say that when fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan said ‘the medium is the message,’ he missed the boat on ebooks. The medium – paper book or ebook – is irrelevant. It’s the message – the content – that matters, and for me, for a full decade now, by far my favourite way to enjoy that content has been electronically. Give it a try: I bet you’ll become a convert, too.


And if the medium is the message, why are newspapers in their death throes and online news sources in their ascendency? Why has TV and cinema replaced the artificial setting of the traditional live theatre and music hall? Why do so few people visit classical and rock concerts compared to those content to listen to recorded works on tiny little electronic devices? And why do latest published statistics report the ever-increasing popularity of ebook reading in the face of print book reading’s decline and fall and with brick and mortar bookshops now proving about as popular as pork pie stands at a bar mitzvah?

Take a look at this par I included this week at our new Limitrophe Publishing imprint ebook website: Publishers Weekly noted on September 12, 2011: Ebook sales rose 167% in June to $80.2 million at the fifteen houses that reported figures to AAP’s monthly sales report and closed the first half of the year with sales up 161% to $383.8 million. The major trade segments took big hits in June. Trade paperback sales had the largest decline, down 64%, while children’s hardcover sales were off 31%. Adult hardcover sales fell 25%, mass market sales were down 22% and children’s paperback was off 13%. Sales in all the trade segments were also off by more than 10% for the first half of the year.

I’d highly recommend you take Rob’s sage advice and give ebooks a chance. You’ll never look back. 

And if you don’t like ’em, I’ll guarantee to immediately send you $1,000,000 or a free ebook to try again (choice of compensation at the discretion of BeWrite Books’ accountancy department).

You can find Stephen’s Website HERE 

His latest book is WWW: WONDER.

And just for fun (c'mon it's weekend -- time to sparer) here are a couple of short videos. 


In the Second, BeWrite Books' Technical and Design Director, Tony Szmuk, DEMONSTRATES JUST HOW GOOD EVEN ECCENTRIC POETRY LAYOUT LOOKS ON A TABLET DEVICE. (And accompanied by some relaxing JS Bach trumpet work to make the experience even more delightful.)

So have a happy weekend – and curl up in bed or your favourite comfy chair or even take a long and lazy bubble bath with an ebook – preferably one of Rob’s or ours – and tell us all about it next week.
And to brighten up your weekend even more, here’s another James Whitworth cartoon strip for you that sums up Rob’s attitude perfectly.

As well as covering a series of humorous novels by Peter Maughan for BeWrite Books, James also produces a weekly 'Rudge' strip for A SITE FOR US OLD SCHOOL FLEET STREET STEET ROGUES AND GENTLEMEN RANTERS WHO WIND DOWN OUR FRIDAYS AT THE LAST PUB IN THE STREET.

That Website is also the home for Revel Barker Publishing and a catalogue of fascinating and hilarious print books BeWrite Books is releasing in all ebook editions at regular intervals under the new genre title, Hack-Lit.

 Love, luck and happy weekend. Neil et al at BeWrite Books and, of course, Rob J Sawyer