Tuesday, October 18, 2011
'Zephyr' to rise anew
Had some good news today. Crown Publishing, parent of Random House, has reverted all rights to my 1994 railroad travel book Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America, clearing the way for me to update and republish it as an e-book.
This means, of course, that I'll have to ride the Amtrak California Zephyr from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay and back at least once and maybe twice (and if I'm lucky, thrice), stopping to re-interview Amtrak personnel featured in that book for the update. Such a task will hardly be onerous, and I'm eagerly looking forward to it.
What I'm not exactly looking forward to is restoring the old manuscript. I do have a 3 1/2-inch floppy disk (remember those?) somewhere in the safe deposit box, but as I wrote last week, magnetic media are not terribly durable over time. All those little byte-sized electrons have a tendency to leak out and roll under the bed, never to be retrieved.
So it looks as if I might have to scan every page of the book into my computer, read the scan with character recognition software, then clean up the text with the help of crowdsourcing, the technical term for shamelessly begging loyal readers to lend their proofreading skills to an impoverished author.
But this task is sure to keep me off the streets and out of gin mills for the next few months. Look for Zephyr II to appear at the e-book vendors sometime next spring.