INTERNET-ON-A-DISK #5, September 1994

The newsletter of electronic texts and Internet trends.

edited by Richard Seltzer,,

Permission is granted to freely distribute this newsletter in electronic form for non-commercial use. All other rights reserved.

Send your comments, letters to the editor, and related articles to For information on who we are check

To access other issues, go to The full text of all issues is available for free, with hypertext links to the sites referenced. (Please keep in mind that URLs frequently change. We will attempt to update the information in this on-line edition, but don't expect perfection.)

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You can now receive Internet-on-a-Disk by email, by signing up at Yahoo Groups. Either send email to , or register at the Web site You can also use that group to discuss related matters and share insights with other readers and with me (Richard Seltzer


(texts recently made available by ftp, gopher, www, and LISTSERV)

Gutenberg Project

wiretap ftp /Library/Classics The Libellus Project (texts in Latin) ftp /pub/user-supported/libellus/texts

(NB -- these files are in TeX format)


/Nepos /Sallust Oxford Archive ftp /ota/english/Jonson

(NB -- these files are in SGML format)

Diana collection of human rights sources Congressional Quarterly gopher:// Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School Marvel Comics ftp /pub/marvel
Spunk Press
ftp ( /pub/Politics/Spunk/texts/
Alex: A Catalogue of Texts on the Internet
gopher:// or point at, choosing "The World", then "Gopherspace", and then "Alex".
Directory of E-Text Centers
request by email from
Novel in Progress telnet log in as guest, then type GO NOVEL
While very few K-12 schools have good Internet connections, nearly all have PCs or Macintoshes. And one of the best ways to introduce them to the treasures of the Internet is by providing them with electronic texts on disks. (That's a lot easier and cheaper than giving them printouts.)

For those who do not have the capability or the time to retrieve electronic texts from the Internet, many are available at a nominal price from PLEASE COPY THIS DISK, a project of The Samizdat Express. For further information, send email to 


by Richard Seltzer, Samizdat Express
Without any fancy tricks of compression, one 3-1/2" diskette, which costs less than 40 cents in quantity, can hold: Anyone with a standard PC can make copies of such a diskette with the greatest of ease, and in only a minute.

And anyone with a good connection to the Internet can send or receive the full contents of such a diskette to or from the other side of the world in just a few minutes, at little or no cost.

And all of these materials -- and many more like them -- are available for free over the Internet today. (The Gutenberg Project, in particular, has been making great strides in this direction. See the above list for pointers to Beethoven music and illustrations for Alice in Wonderland.

For Renoir and other artwork check the Louvre in Paris on the World Wide Web

With duplication easy, and distribution virtually free, it's only a mater of time before competitive pressure from solutions based on this technology will completely transform the publishing industry.

All that stands in the way is the inertia of habit. That inertia is strong -- the comfort of doing things the way you always have and pleasure of holding a well-manufactured book in your hand. But I wouldn't want to bet my business on it.

I don't think printed books as we know them today will disappear, but their role will change. They could well become a high-price niche market. Broadcast media did not do away with the market for lectures and concerts, rather they changed the role and the business models for such events. Today, people pay a premium price to see a celebrity in person. Emerson could make a fortune on the lecture circuit today. And some book publishers will probably do very with high-priced, well-crafted books in the days when the masses get their information very cheaply in electronic form.

So the capabilities of this little disk and of the Internet do not mean that publishing as we know it will soon be dead. Actually, they signal tremendous growth for the industry in its broadest sense.

The advent of the automobile meant less business for railroads, but led to realignment and vast expansion of the transportation industry.

The advent of radio and television meant less business for newspapers, but led to realignment and vast expansion of the information and entertainment industry.

The advent of multi-media networking -- such as we see today on the Internet -- will lead to another expansion of the information and entertainment industry.

The relative importance, and business models, and market niches of present formats and delivery mechanisms will change radically under competitive pressure from electronic means of duplicating and distributing information and entertainment products. In fact, in this realm the concept of a discrete and clearly defined product that one duplicates in volume for sale may become obsolete. Much of the business in the publishing industry may become service-oriented -- allowing users to tailor for themselves the precise and unique flow and mix of information and entertainment they want and when they want to and how they want it. 


by Richard Seltzer, Samizdat Express
My recent encounter with an academic publisher (MSU Press) is probably characteristic of the experience of many others. And perhaps the alternative that I am pursuing could prove useful to others as well.

Back in 1970, I chanced upon an article in the London Times of 1913 , while digging through microfilms looking for something else. Ever since, I've been fascinated by the life of Alexander Bulatovich (1870-1919). Bulatovich was a soldier, explorer, and religious leader whose field of action ranged from Tsarist Russia to Ethiopia to Manchuria to Mount Athos. He explored Ethiopia, led cavalry in Russia's conquest of Manchuria, then became a monk and went to Mount Athos, where he led a group of "heretics," who believed that the Name of God was part of God and therefore in itself divine. For practicing the Jesus Prayer (a la Franny and Zoey), 880 monks were forcibly exiled to remote parts of the Russian Empire -- that was the subject of the London Times article.

The odd shifts in his career drew me to him. I was interested in the man himself -- his energy and enthusiasm, and the puzzle of what motivated him. I suspected that he was on some sort of quest, driven by an inner need to push himself to the limits of his capabilities. I was also drawn by the strangeness of the events -- explorers in Ethiopia, the Russian conquest of Manchuria, a heresy battle in the twentieth century. I wanted to understand the man and his time, to get some insight into how people and circumstances could have interacted to produce such events.

I wrote an historical novel, The Name of Hero , which dealt with Bulatovich's Manchurian experience in 1900 and, in flashbacks, covered Ethiopia as well. That book was published by Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin in 1981. I'm now at work on a sequel and a movie script.

My best source is Bulatovich himself. He wrote a number of books, including two about his experiences in Ethiopia -- From Entotto to the River Baro and With the Armies of Menelik II . They are probably the best and most accurate first-hand sources on Ethiopia at the turn of the century. They are an original source of historical and ethnographic information about a little-known but critical and exciting period, when Ethiopia vied with Italy, France, and England for control of previously unexplored territory in east-central Africa. These are documents that any library should want to include in its black or African history collection. But, amazingly, they were only available in Russian -- in the original edition and also a recent reprint edited by Professor I.S. Katsnelson of the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow.

As Katsnelson pointed out in the introduction to his reprint: "Almost all documents of the period of Menelik's reign were destroyed at the time of the war with Italy in 1936. As for the papers of the Russian Embassy, in 1919 tsarist diplomats gave them to the French Embassy 'for safekeeping'; and in 1936, they were taken to Paris, where they were burned along with other archives in June 1940."

The main English source of information about Russian activities in Ethiopia is "Russians in Ethiopia: An Essay in Futility" by Czeslaw Jesman. This is an amusing collection of rumors and anecdotes, based primarily on Italian sources. It is often wrong. Unfortunately, historians without access to original sources often repeat and give added authority to the errors of their predecessors.

I contacted about a dozen publishers with a proposal to translate these works. Commercial publishers, even ones with a backlist of works related to Africa, indicated that regardless of the scientific and scholarly value of the project, they didn't think they could sell enough copies to justify publication. Even academic publishers showed no interest. (An editor at Rutgers University Press indicated that regardless of merit, there simply is no market for any book about Ethiopia).

Finally, in the summer of 1990, I contacted Michigan State University, which has a program in Ethiopian Studies. MSU Press expressed strong interest and encouraged me to go ahead and complete the translation.

The understanding was that I would serve as editor as well as translator of the work and would receive a small advance if and when the work was accepted.

I completed the work in Jan. 1993. My investment of time (nights and weekends) amounted to over 1000 hours.

I proposed publishing Bulatovich's two Ethiopian books as a single volume entitled Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes. The manuscript came to 681 pages, including my introduction and footnotes.

MSU Press sent the work to several reviewers, including a professor in Moscow. This process took another year and a half. The reviewers finally concluded that this is indeed a valuable work and should be published.

The director of MSU Press then sent me a "standard" contract. When I read it, I simply couldn't believe the terms: no advance, royalty = 10% of profits (normal = 10% of gross; an academic publisher normally does not expect to make a profit and hence 10% of profit = 0), only payment = 10 copies of the published book. They expected me to quickly compile a detailed index at no charge (even though an index does not seem necessary for this particular book). In return for those 10 printed copies, they wanted all rights (including electronic and movie and serial) even though they do not intend to exercise them, and even though I had made it clear that I had already published one novel and was at work on others that were related to this material. I had also informed them a year ago that Safari Magazine will soon be publishing an excerpt, dealing with an enormous elephant hunt.

I pointed out the problems and reminded them of our four-year-old understanding. I am not a professor. I am not doing this because I'm in a publish-or-perish situation. This was a labor of love. It's work I feel needed to be done. But if I were to give the rights to it to a traditional publisher, I would expect some token cash payment as an advance. (In our original verbal agreement, the "standard" advance for an arrangement such as this was $2000.)

I didn't expect to get rich from this work. But I also saw no reason to give up all control of and all rights to this work for payment of just 10 copies.

And I also was greatly frustrated by the fact that it had already taken them a year and a half just to review the work; and, apparently, it would take another couple years before it would ever appear in print. And then they would only issue it in hard cover for a high price, and market only to a handful of academic libraries.

I wanted this work to be read. I wanted to make it available to interested scholars as soon as possible and as inexpensively as possible.

I proposed giving the Press traditional print publication rights and my retaining the electronic rights, so I could make the work available over the Internet. The editor-in-chief professed that he didn't know the meaning of the term "electronic rights" and was not at all interested in negotiating , though he affirmed that "the material contained in this work deserves to be published."

In the past there would have been no alternative -- the only way to get your work to an extended audience was by way of a traditional book publisher. After investing four years in getting your work accepted by such a publisher, few people would back away from such a deal -- money or no money. The only real alternative would have been to invest in sending around photocopies to a few individuals, and otherwise let the work gather dust in a drawer.

But that is no longer the case. I am making this book -- Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes -- available through the PLEASE COPY THIS DISK project. And I am also posting the entire work on my site on the World Wide Web.

This means that immediately -- not two years from now -- scholars and libraries can access this work on-line or purchase it on diskette for a nominal price from Samizdat Express, and then can freely make copies for colleagues and students. It also means that I would welcome having the text made available for free in electronic form from other archives on the Internet (ftp, gopher, www).

At the same time, I'm also making my novel The Name of Hero available in this same format. (The hardcover publisher let the book drop out of print and the rights to that work have reverted to me -- the only printed copies available are the ones left in my attic).

In a previous issue of this newsletter I noted: "Academic publishers should reassess their standard procedures and terms in the light of current technology which can enable them to accomplish their main mission far less expensively and more quickly. And authors of academic works should think twice before submitting their work to publishers who still use antiquated methods."

So I'm practicing what I preach.

Let's hope that others do likewise, and that collectively we help to wake up the academic publishing community. 



Message-Id: <>

Organization: GRIST On-Line

X-Mailer: TBBS/PIMP v3.05

Date: Sun, 24 Jul 94 01:50:23

Subject: LISTS


Thanks for the newsletters and the list of diskettes. I have made them available at:

GRIST On-Line BBS (212)787-6562

The BBS specializes in poetry and we also are the publishers of 5 issues (thus far) of GRIST On-Line Magazine, a free Internet publication available ftp at extext.archive.umich \pub\Poetry\Grist -- a total of over 400 pages of contemporary writing by such widely published and recognized writers as Jerome Rothenberg, David Ignatow, Clayton Eshleman and many other mature and exiting new authors. Teachers of creative writing in high school or college will find it of interest.

I wholly support your position and relate especially to your comments about small press publishing in the early days since GRIST On-Line is a revival of a mimeo/offset magazine that we first published 1964-1968! I saw the Net as analogous to the small press revolution of the 60s and jumped in almost a year ago with the magazine. Since then we have started the BBS, a few weeks ago, and have published one title on diskette: GLEANINGS: The Uncollected Poetry of the Fifties by David Ignatow, the honored American poet who recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

We have three other "books" in the works which will most likely see the first light of day on the Internet.

Thanks for your efforts and best regards,


Date: Mon, 25 Jul 94 01:38:01



Subject: GOL

No problem in mentioning GRIST On-Line as a source for your lists. I haven't decided how many files we'll actually be carrying on our site. Probably only those that are, or relate to, poetry which is our specialty, but we'll certainly want to continue to receive the complete lists and newsletters and make them available to our readers.

Seems to be a growing discussion in other areas/lists as well about using the Net as a source/resource for "text book" materials. Not only for public domain but contemporary materials as well when authors are willing to forego the "rewards" of traditional publishing.

Another reason to "publish" on the Net--possible class adoption!

The other night I posted the following to one of the discussions:

"Released from the tyranny of the "bound book" a reader is truly empowered. The book looses its "market value" and texts retain only use (commodity) value and virtually no exchange value."

I was thinking of "commodities" in the classical Marxian sense of everyday things which we daily consume in the course of reproducing ourselves. Freely accessible texts become a matter of choice for the reader who is no longer dependent on place, time or money for procuring something s/he might want to use.



Date: Mon, 9 May 94 12:36:43 CDT

From: Wesley Elsberry <>


Newsgroups: alt.etext

Subject: Re: Internet-on-a-Disk, Issue #3, May 1994

You might include in future newsletters the telephone numbers of BBS's carrying significant numbers of etext files, to go along with the give-away-etexts-on-disks section.

Central Neural System BBS has many of the Wiretap Classic and Project Gutenberg files, plus a few of the PD texts from the Oxford Text Archive. CNS is a free access system, and can be reached by dialing 409-589-3338. Connect rates up to 16.8Kbps through the USR Courier Dual Standard modem. Users should go to the ETEXT file section.


Wesley R. Elsberry P.O. Box 4201, College

Station, TX

Sysop, Central Neural System BBS, FidoNet 1:117/385 409-589-3338

From Sat Aug 20 13:20:22 1994

Date: Wed, 15 Jun 1994 04:42:46 -0400

From: Barney Leith <>

To: B+R Samizdat Express <>

Subject: Re: Subscribe


I have a small editorial services business: writing, editing, desktop layout, publishing. I'm very excited about the Internet as a publishing medium for my own writing and for other authors I'm about to publish or help get published. I'm interested in developing new relationships between publisher and author. What you said about the exploitation and undervaluing of authors is well made. Recently I was commissioned by the BBC World Service to write and present four four-minute talks. I was paid the grand sum of 10 pounds per broadcast minute. Sounds great -- £40 for ten minutes work. Of course, to write a cogent four-minute talk (about 500 words) takes a considerable amount of work.

And then there's the time spent in the studio recording...

It seems to me that computer-based technology makes it possible for anyone to publish themselves. Of course, this doesn't mean that what is published is worth publishing (how is one to judge that?). But it does allow authors to place their work in front of some kind of public.

I think there are a number of challenges for authors and publishers:

1. Finding a relevant market (given that most bookstores operate EPOS systems and will not give scarce shelf-space to anything that isn't going to make its breakeven in six weeks).

2. Maintaining/developing editorial standards: ownership of a computer and dtp software doesn't guarantee either literate writing or good design.

3. Developing a relationship between author and whoever provides editorial/publishing services that is based on justice and equity for all concerned. I suspect that the traditional 10 percent royalty relationship between publisher and author will become less important. An author has more choices than that:

a) full self-publishing (i.e. author does all the work him/herself, and uses own financial resources)

b) self-publishing with help from editorial houses such as mine (paying the editorial house a fee, and using author's own financial resources for production, marketing and distribution)

c) co-operative publishing: author and editorial/production house share costs and revenues and co-operate on editing, design, marketing and distribution.

4. Asserting and maintaining copyright. Big, big issue, this one.

5. Answering the question: who gets paid and how (especially for material published over the Internet)? (related to #4 above)

6. Finding the best media for publishing any given material: print, online, CD-ROM.

7. Developing the concept of distributed (as opposed to closed) documents and publishing. At the London Book Fair in March I witnessed distributed publishing for the first time. The company had published an anthology of prayers to say before eating. In its printed form it was just a book. In its electronic form (I think they were using MOSAIC) it included online hypertext links to various sites (such as MIT's Shakespeare library). They must have had an ISDN line because the link was made so quickly -- and of course it was transparent to the user, who merely clicked on the word in which the link was embedded. You are probably familiar with this. But it made me realize that a distributed document needn't actually exist in any one place. The publisher then becomes someone who sells a package of hyertext links. The author contributes his or her piece (either directly to the pubisher or via the online site that is being linked to). An important skill then becomes that of the link editor, who knows where to find the relevant onlline sites and embeds the links and cross references. The user can then construct, to some degree, his/her own document from the links provided.

This seems radically to change the nature of publishing, and a completely different model from the traditional book publisher comes into play. But (and it is a big 'but') how can the integrity of any one author's work be protected?

Sorry to have launched into this diatribe. Just wanted to share some thoughts about writing and publishing that are buzzing around in my head at the moment.

With best wishes


Barney Leith, Internet:

24 Gardiner Close, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 3YA, UK

Tel: +44 (0)235 535224 Fax: +44 (0)235 529137

Date: Tue, 14 Jun 1994 10:08:16 -0300

From: Copthorne Macdonald <>



A friend recently passed along a copy of Internet-on-a-Disk, Issue #4. I am very interested in the subject of electronic publication for many reasons, including the possible distribution of my own work. I have been writing for print publications for many years. From 1973-1983 I wrote the New Directions Radio column in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS, and started New Directions Radio, a loose network of radio amateurs interested in using that medium to foster personal growth and social change. Over the years I have had over 125 articles and column installments published, and since 1985 have been making my living writing, with almost all the $$$ coming from write-for-hire projects: textbooks, software instruction manuals, etc.

Last year my close-to-the-heart book TOWARD WISDOM was published by Hounslow Press of Toronto, and I'm currently trying to find a U.S. Publisher for the book.

(Hounslow has only Canadian rights.) I, of course, have an electronic version of it (even a hypertext version), but because I don't want to muddy the waters with potential print publishers, I have not yet distributed it electronically.

I liked your CLARIFICATION -- AUTHORS AND THE INTERNET piece very much. You are so right. There are many, many authors writing books today, and lots of them will not be winners in the publication lottery. Publishers are in business to make money, and many quite worthwhile potential books just wouldn't sell enough copies. Other books might make money for a publisher, but are competing with manuscripts that promise even greater sales.

If an author concludes that print publication is just not going to happen, then unrestricted electronic distribution of the work probably makes sense. It would to me.

I face a slightly different situation. Perhaps you would care to address it. I currently have the electronic rights to my book, but if I put it on Internet with no copyright protection, wouldn't someone be able to take that text and put out another PRINT edition of the book? I'm sure that the book publisher(s) I have contracted with would not be pleased about that. On the other hand, a strictly on-line, electronic edition of the book--licensed for electronic viewing only--would presumably increase interest in, and sales of, the print edition. As a consequence, I assume that publishers having book-rights-only would be pleased with that kind of arrangement.

The Shareware concept of software distribution seems to be successfully exploiting this middle ground between totally unhampered availability and total restriction. Is this the appropriate model for the present transitional period where we authors want print publication if we can get it, but also want the widest possible dissemination of our material? I really don't have the answer, but would be interested in your thoughts, and the thoughts of others on the subject.

Please put me on the "mailing list," and I would very much like to receive copies of issues 1 through 3 if that could be arranged. (My Internet connection has no restrictions on file size.) Many thanks, and good luck on your venture. Your newsletter strikes me as an excellent project, and its timing is right on the mark for me.

All good things, Cop Macdonald

The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing...


From Sat Aug 20 13:12:53 1994

Date: Sun, 31 Jul 1994 15:40:32 -0400

From: Bennett Blumenberg <>


Subject: Order ...

Hello Richard,

Your latest newsletter of books-on-disk is impressive. Here is a small first order. I would also appreciate whatever back issues of the newsletter can be easily forwarded.

BTW My tiny company - Reality Software - publishes books-on-disk and an historical timeline for the ancient and medieval period. Our books are not scanned material but original studies in the history of religion and mythology. They are scholarly and much of the text is at journal level. Our products are not pure ASCII, altho such files are available on request for the books. They are produced for the PC with packaged readers for either DOS or Windows. At the moment, distribution is via shareware and the BBS world.



[For the Reality Software Catalog, send email to]

Published by Samizdat Express, 213 Deerfield Lane, Orange, CT 06477. (203) 553-9925.

My Internet: a Personal View of Internet Business Opportunities by Richard Seltzer, on CD, includes four books, 162 articles, and 49 newsletter issues that will inspire you and provide the practical information you need to build your own personal Web site or Internet-based business, helping you to become a player in this new business environment.

Web Business Boot Camp: Hands-on Internet lessons for manager, entrepreneurs, and professionals by Richard Seltzer (Wiley, 2002). No-nonsense guide targets activities that anyone can perform to achieve online business
success. Reviews.

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