I had my book launch on Tuesday at Bar Detroit in Covent Garden. Terrific stuff. Lots of old friends, my publishers (several of the Quercus team pictured above), and my family. Gary Kremen was there and signed various books and generally entertained people. I did that weird thing where you speak to nearly everyone but only for a very sorry time each. I also didn’t eat anything, so I have lost the last half-hour or so of the evening and felt pretty rough the next day, but there you go – if you can’t do that at your book launch, when can you?
Anyway, there are a series of reviews out. And I’ve done a number of interviews so I thought I should quickly stick up links to them while I have a minute. Guy Kewney wrote one for his NewsWireless site, which The Register has decided to buy off him. Which is good news for me because Guy really enjoyed it. My favourite part: “You think you’re going to read a racy description of the high life of a few wealthy California dotcom millionaires, playing at pornography – but what you end up soaking into your soul, is a deep understanding of the pioneering days of the Internet.” Which was exactly what my intention was. He ends it: “It’s a brilliant bit of writing. Read it if you dare.” God bless him.
Me old boss Max have given me a more critical review on Techworld. As ever, Max has a keen eye for detail. He reckons I went on too much about the US legal system and didn’t make it clear what what quotes and what was my interpretation. Max may well be right on both counts. Max also reckoned I should have covered IANA and ICANN in greater detail. I don’t know. Maybe. I had to not put in alot of stuff to make the book readable because I wanted to make it readily accessible to everyone not just IT folk. I have whole chapters covering the early DNS, and many more covering the US legal system, and I also have a whole lot of stuff on other con-men that also, sadly, never made it into the final book. Nevertheless, Max said it was a “gripping story, well told”, adding, “there can’t be many books about the computer industry that can be described as page-turners but this is”. Which coming from Max is praise indeed.
There is a long feature in the Silicon Valley Metro – which I had nearly forgotten about because I did the interview over the phone while doing 100 other things in Geneva. That covers the story well, covering the story with quotes from me and Kremen’s lawyer Richard Idell. And I’ve just seen another review in The First Post. They’re not so keen, saying that the author “doesn’t always make the most of his entertaining cast of geeks and porn barons”.
I think this last comment actually hits on something very interesting about the book – and something I struggled with for a while when trying to write it: the book isn’t just about one thing. It actually about a multitude of things: two men fighting one another; the history of the Internet; the US legal system; a con-man and his scams; the online porn industry; the impact of technology in the digital era.
Everyone it seems had an idea what the story was about and is either amazed or irritated that that doesn’t make the main focus. Guy Kewney saw the book as about NSI and the dangerous monopoly at the top of the Net. Max Cooter wished it was more about the history of the Net. A couple of the reviews have been disappointed it isn’t more about the porn industry. I did a Radio Five Live interview where the woman – Anita Anand – went off on a tangent about being the first person to recognise the value of domain names, and also liked the porn angle more than the others. Some reviews have complained there is too much US legal system; others that there is too little.
I have to say though my favourite interview so far was last night with BBC Radio Wales with Adam Walton. You can see him online here and listen again to the show here (at least for a week). The reason I liked this interview was because for the first time it didn’t feel like I was selling something. I wasn’t effectively in the position of having two minutes to tell people why they should buy my product. Instead it felt as if we were having a chat about something that I had decided to spend a few years of my life researching and writing because it was so fascinating. I much, much prefer that. Even if the sales were smaller as a result, give me conversation over sales pitches any day.
Anyway, I have a number of other interviews lined up this week – nearly all phone interviews, so we shall see if I can reconcile the two. I am looking forward to seeing how many books have actually been sold next week. Most bookstores in the UK have copies – but some only have two or three copies. I dread to think that people that would buy the book don’t bother because the store has sold out or they can’t find it in the store. Who knows?
Right, I have a lot of ICANN work to be getting on with…