Friday, January 18, 2008

Bookdroplifting Revelations

I referred earlier to the phenomenal talents that can be hidden away developing software when sometimes these people have more vision, more creativity, and perhaps even better writing style than so many currently published authors. Another day I will explain my theory for the reasons that they stay and succeed in technology. But today just another eulogy to their genius.

The wasted Mark Abbott and the driven Stephen Lees were continuing a tradition started by the late great Paul Coombs, instigator of the cryptic creative epics that still confound that consultancy at the end of each year and author of well-respected guides to IT Project Estimation and IT Project Proposals.

Paul also wrote a novel. He described Revelations as "a cyber-novel packed with adventure, romance, jokes, brain-busting philosophy...". However all he got from every major publisher was a pre-printed rejection slip saying something along the lines of "we have read and enjoyed the book, but unfortunately did not feel it was worthy of publication".

I do not have the vested interest of the next Harry Potter hidden up my sleeve, but what is pathetic about those publishers is that they lied. Yes, that is a strong word, but various studies have shown that the publishers have neither the time nor inclination to read unsolicited manuscripts, fair enough, but they should just admit that. Though it would be a sorry state if new talent is forever stifled by this process. Paul paints an eloquent picture of a world where none of the biggest players in the industry actually ever read books, they just talk about them.

However he was not prepared to see his work disappear without a fight. So with typical tenacity and creativity, he instigated a process of "droplifting". That is the opposite of shoplifting. He invested his own money to get an ISBN and got a few hundred copies of his book privately printed and bound, then strategically left them in carefully selected bookshops. As each copy was in pristine condition and had a valid barcode, some were presumably rung up as normal by the shop assistants by the time that Paul went back to check a few weeks later. He hoped that word of mouth would gradually spread news of the novel, but sadly he did not live to see it.

However, somewhere at a store near you, his revelations may still survive.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The links to "Revelations" appear to have disappeared, presumably the winston-11811 site stopped hosting the novel.

The link to "Paul Coombs" still takes you to a Logica-hosted tribute page that refers to the novel, but links to the book itself seem to have gone.

R N B said...

By the way, Winston 11811 was the pseudonym used to write Revelations - the name Paul Coombs was reserved for his IT project books.

Anonymous said...

Logica keeps changing its name so all the links changed.
The Pablo links are here
http://public.logica.com/~ath/pablo/bibliography.html