Ebook Smuggling!
AUSTIN, TX: While enjoying a delicious bowl of cold sesame noodles from one of Austin's local "trailer merchants" and trying to write fiction at a nearby coffee shop, the hairs on the back of my neck began to tingle and I felt a strange slithering sensation along my pantsleg. Without turning, I snapped my hand out and caught the frail, tattooed wrist of a sunken-eyed waif.

"Holy crud! Those are New York reflexes!" he roared.

I was clutching the frail, tattooed wrist of one of Austin's young, downwardly-mobile street thieves. This desperate character had been trying to pickpocket me.

He tried to twist away as -- with one hand -- I finished the sentence I was typing. I squeezed his wrist harder and flicked my eyes toward a large, bearded man -- nearly catatonic -- who served as the 24 hour coffee shop's late night security.

"If you be cool, then I will be cool," I said. "Sit down. I have some questions for you."

"Then let go of my flipping wrist, grandpa!" said the youth. "You are twisting my dang arm off!""

"Nobody likes a thief," I said, letting his wrist go and closing my computer.

"But I'm not a thief," said the youth, sitting across from me on a picnic bench. "I'm a pirate."

"Oh, are you?" I chuckled. "What's your name?"

"Egan Williams," said the kid, rubbing his wrist and making sure his piercings were all still screwed into his face.

"Don't play games with me, kid," I said. "What's your SCREEN NAME?"

"Cowboypissmissile2012," said Egan, smiling now.

"That's better," I said. "Now tell me. Why are you trying to pick my pocket if you are a really a pirate and not a common thief?"

"Because you smell clean," said Egan. "You smell like the kind of person who has cleaned the bathrooms of rich people for fair wages."

"Astute," I said. "Things are a little different back east. But that doesn't excuse your flagrant disrespect for the contents of my personal pants."

"I just wanted to see your cell phone," said Egan. "I wanted to see if you had any phone numbers of famous people."

"Many," I said, smiling now. I was warming up to this unwashed gamin. "Now why don't you let me buy you a can of kambucha and you can tell me about life as a pirate?"

"I don't need your charity, Gandalf."

He reached for my cup of coffee and I slapped his hand.

"Tell me what kind of movies you steal," I said.

"MOVIES! Nuts to you, pops! Movies are totes defeated."

"Totes defeated?"

"Nobody watches movies anymore. No revelation. No buzz. Hollywood fail. They make movies out of last year's commercials and commercials out of last year's TV shows and TV shows out of last year's comic books. Comic books are totes rad."

"So you pirate comics?"

"No," said Egan. "I have morals."

"So video games, then? You pirate video games?"

The kid looked at me like I had some kind of face plague. He made a slow, crude gesture with his hand.

"Okay then," I said. "What do you pirate?"

"Books," said Egan. "Books are rad. They are totes small. You can hide them in anything. Book pirates are -- like -- culture smugglers. Like pirates who have really awesome mustaches and talk real good and get all the action. You could have -- like -- a whole archive full of lame-ass Cali picture porn, and each picture could have a book .rar tucked away inside of it. All nested and junk like those motherlovin' Russian dolls! Book piracy is for classy cads!"

"Show me," I said. "Show me how to hide a book inside a picture."

I opened my computer and slid it over to him. He cracked his fingers and started to talk...

"Does this really work?" I asked.

"Sure man," he said. "You can put post pictures with books hidden inside to random places. HIDDEN, man. HIDDEN IN THE NUMBERS. You can even get free ware that performs a batch instantly. Here, why don't you practice unpacking pictures and get the free batch merger at the same time by saving this little picture and then seeing what's inside by opening the .jpg with WinRAR?"

"Save and then open as a .rar file!"

"Neat," I said. "Now I want to make one out of a short story. For shameless promotional purposes.""

"Easy," he said. "Just take a picture and a .lit file or whatever and put them in the same folder as your merger.batch. Then run the batch. IT IS LIKE MAGIC!"

"I made this!"

"What do you think this means for publishing? If books can be pirated and smuggled so easily?"

"Books are so tiny on the net that they are totes invisible," said the kid. "Publishing fail."

"Publishing fail?" I said. "What does that mean?"

He merely smiled at me. My patience faltered. I grabbed his shoulder and growled.

"What does that mean?" I repeated.

"I thought you said you'd be cool!" shouted Egan. I pushed him against the wall and grabbed him by his eyebrow ring.

"Let go!" he shouted. "Let go!"

"Tell me!"

"It's no big mystery," said Egan. "Thiiiiiink about it. Publishers are all about ebooks these days. You say the word "ebook" and they basically jizz on the floor and open their wallet. Soon all books will be ebooks. And then all books will be free, hidden in the walls of the internet. Would you "pay" for a .jpg file?"

"No," I said, relaxing and letting go of Egan's eyebrow ring.

"Just so you know," I said. "I'm trying to sell my book inside a dick. But it's too big to hide inside a picture. It's like half a gig of data."

"That's cool, man," said Egan, rubbing his forehead. "They know how doomed they are back east, right?"

"Ebook readers cost four hundred dollars a piece," I said, closing my eyes.

And then we both started to laugh...

Posted by miracle on Mon, 26 Oct 2009 20:48:29 -0400 -- permanent link

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