Why ebooks, Caketrainers?

In November 2006, we of Caketrain, at long last, found ourselves out of copies of the print edition of our first issue. The feeling was at once satisfying and disappointing—while it was nice knowing we had moved all those books into the hands of excited readers, the book was “done,” no more, and the thought of never sharing these works again was frustrating. There are great pieces in Caketrain Issue 01, and while some of them might eventually see the light of day again in other print anthologies and collections (indeed, some already have), it just didn’t make sense to us to “lose” these poems and stories. After some consideration, we eventually realized that the ebook provided a perfect opportunity to keep these out-of-print works available for readers to discover and enjoy. We can host them for free (at the wonderful, enormous Internet Archive), with no prohibitive printing costs, and that means we can distribute them for free, too, under a Creative Commons license that allows for you, the downloader, to be as free as we to copy, host, print and distribute the work. See something you like? Attach and send it to a friend. Blog it. Print it. Simple. We politely ask, however, that you refrain from altering the work or selling it; these caveats are in place out of respect for the wishes of our collective of writers, who were very generous to agree to the license as written, and who deserve to retain the rights to their individual pieces, per our standard publishing agreement. If you really find yourself itching to remix, mashup or otherwise derive a new text from one of these pieces, we recommend you take it up with the writers themselves. And coming from the people who helped William Walsh talk Calvin Trillin into approving a derivation, the sky’s the limit when you’re willing to ask! It’s hard to say no to the opportunity for a free, infinitely large print run, and we’re excited to give this gift to our loyal and growing readership, many of whom will now see this issue for the first time.

Will Caketrain release more ebooks in the future?

We hope so. We’re currently working under the assumption that the need for an ebook is driven by the absence of its print counterpart, so we’ll release more ebooks as more print editions sell out. This means that now, when you buy an issue of Caketrain, you’re not only supporting our longevity and getting a great book in the mail, you’re also reducing the remaining stock. Your purchase, then, contributes toward the eventual “unlocking” the book in question for free electronic consumption by readers worldwide. We think that’s really cool of you, actually.

Are you worried that the release of ebooks will have a detrimental effect on the sales of print editions?

Not really. Many people, we think, still prefer the portability, format and design of printed books, and those who pay for the print edition will get the book much earlier, since the ebooks won’t be released until the cooresponding print editions are long gone. Also, we have learned already the electronic editions will inevitably differ from the originals, as we aren’t always able to clear every piece by every contributor for the web, and interestingly, some contributors have taken this opportunity to update their works (a comparison will reveal that the Issue 01 ebook is 16 pages shorter than its paper counterpart, and that Brian Patrick Heston has provided significantly revised editions of all of his poems). We also want to make it clear that we’re not going to pass on future submissions just because the author doesn’t want them distributed online—this is a print journal first and foremost, and the ebook is a byproduct of that, not the other way around. We ourselves are among the number who love the way a book feels in our hands, love the way a book looks, spine-out on a shelf or face-up on a coffee table. The ebook can’t recreate that experience, but it can give you the work inside, the thing that matters most, in an attractive format that—and again, this is the key—you, the reader, can reproduce and distribute freely and easily. Clearly, both formats have their advantages, and we feel confident that they can sustain a healthy, friendly coexistence. We’re proud to be undertaking this venture, and we hope it finds our work enjoyed by more people than ever before.

Caketrain is a literary journal and press based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our interest is in bringing you, reader, the very best in contemporary creative writing, full stop. Our goals are for each issue of our journal to submerge you in a birthing tank for gelatinous language monsters, young masses of tentacular foci undulating as directed (in all, at once) by our eclectic stable of contributors; for each new book we publish to seduce and ensnare you, sometimes intangibly, always undeniably; and for you, reader, to be able to draw at least one passage from our banks that prods your mind with such precision and power that it feels as if it was written for your eyes alone. To wit and to whet, here is a snippet, a slight nip of our delicious lit mix:

Copyright 2003-2006 Caketrain Journal and Press. Rights to literature revert to their respective authors.
ISSN 1547-6839.

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