Mister Mercury: The Long-Awaited Print Edition

Ladies and people-who-should-have-been-banned-from-polite-society-centuries-ago, the time has come for me to make the declaration that the world of E-Reading kind of sucks.

The eBooks themselves are not at fault. Their file sizes are incredibly small, they easily transfer over the internet, and the majority of them are public domain, allowing millions of people without means to own and read digital copies of their favorite classics without having to pay a dime.

I worked hard on the Mister Mercury ebook. I made dang sure it was good and validated, that it had all its type fonts embedded, that its margins were hunky-dory, that its images were included, and that its cover was high-resolution. I was so pleased with it, I made a second, scallywag-themed version  expressly for the purpose of allowing my readers to steal it if they so choose. And it paid off! It’s easy to navigate and looks beautiful on most any device it’s viewed on, unless that device happens to be a Kindle and therefore stupid.

So, the eBooks on their own are not inherently bad.

Everything else surrounding eBooks, however, is a clusterfuck.

Sure, you’ll hear about champions like Kristen Lamb touting the excellence of eBooks and the demise of the print industry, and to her credit, she is a genuine eBook success story. She wrote a best-selling eBook about… what was it? Oh yes. How to be a best-selling eBook author. Imagine that! Write a book about an appealing way for struggling authors to make money from their work with very little effort, and it sells well! It reminds me of those people who teach seminars about being successful. Why are they successful? Why, because they teach seminars about being successful, of course.

It’s an endless cycle.

I’m being too harsh. Kristen is actually quite talented, her methods actually do work for those willing to put in the time and effort, and her blog is quite funny. But let’s face it. Ebooks aren’t going to save the world. They are not.

From endless troubles with DRM to ever-changing standards and formats to major eBook behemoths taking each other to court because they can’t compete and need the Department of Justice to smack down their competitors… it’s all a mess, even before we get into the myriads of different devices, apps, and programs needed just to open the fucking things. Devices and apps and programs that are only available to those privileged enough to live in an industrialized nation with working electricity, I might add.

It actually is quite a lot to ask someone who has never read an eBook, or who does not own a device that can read an eBook, to suspend everything they ever knew about books and go read one. Even if you provide instructions on how to do so, even if you provide the book to them free of charge and offer all the technical know-how they will ever need, it’s still quite an imposition to put someone in. People are already stretched thin enough at is what with working hours getting disastrously long, school getting more expensive, and polite society generally getting more chaotic and stressful.

Additionally, eBooks just aren’t as good. Dedicated eBook devices are easy to read, but most people who have eBook reading devices, if they have them at all, have only tablets or computers, and reading on those tiny LCD screens for more than a few hours at a time is enough to make your eyes leap from their sockets, wrap their nerve strands around your neck, and gently apply pressure until you are unable to cause your poor corneas any more pain.

And even if you do have a dedicated eBook device, you’re met with DRM, needlessly complex software, eBooks that still don’t look the same from device to device even though they are perfectly validated and have all the fonts embedded and I followed all the goddammed rules and I hate you so much Apple... and the fact that it’s yet another device you have to lug around with you.

And at last, well, they’re just not as fun to read. I don’t feel as fulfilled reading an eBook as I do reading a paper one. When I first read Boneshaker, I had a paper copy that I bought at Powell’s. There’s a story with that one: it was the first time I had ever been to the City of Books, the first time I had ever been to Portland, in fact, and the buying of that book, and the subsequent reading and enjoyment of it, eventually lead to the discovery of the amazingly talented artist Alex Pelayre, who eventually became the cover artist for my own book.

I read the rest of the Clockwork Century series as an eBook, and I’ll be damned if I can remember anything about it. Who was in it? What happened? Where and why? No idea. I hardly retained any of it.


Briar Wilkes showed up and was awesome at some point, but that was to be expected.

I have no such stories about the eBooks I have read. They all just kinda blurred past the screen on my Sony reader at some point and that is all I remember.

So yeah, eBooks might be a welcome thing in the distant future, after the world’s trees rise up against their human oppressors and the only comfort we can find are in the eBooks we read on the Iphones and Androids we find lying around in the poisonous landfills we are forced to make into our homes, but right now, they’re more than a little bit problematic.

So, having learned these things after many years and many trials, I sat down and I made this.



That’s right.

That right there is the print edition of Mister Mercury. And you can get it now, right here.  

You can hold it. You can put it on your bookshelf. It’s compatible with all types of hardware, provided that the hardware in question is a pair of working eyes that have not yet leaped from their sockets to throttle their owner.

You can loan it to a friend without fiddling with DRM, you can sell it to a used bookstore if you’re done with it, it requires no cellular signal and never runs out of batteries. You can roll It up and use it in hand-to-hand combat (thought that’s not recommended, as it’s nearly two pounds and can crack skulls at high velocities), and the text looks the same on every page no matter which hardware you’re using (the aforementioned “working eyes” caveat also applies).

And most importantly, it’s just so dang pretty.

There’s the excellent front cover, looking spiffy as usual and sporting a new and improved tagline (I changed two words after much deliberation and concession). The spine has Mister Mercury’s trademark shield. You might recognize the back cover as the one the book originally had (drawn by the excellent and multi talented Kent Mudle), back from when it was first released by that one group of people who, as I was distressed to learn, knew less about publishing than my left pinky finger (they are better at it now, but then again, so is my left pinky finger). I still love that art, and kept it, and there’s plenty of space for the book description on the back, so that’s where I put it. Apologies for the poor photos. Oregon has a lot of cloud cover these days and does not offer good lighting.

And finally, check out that spiffy illustration inside! It’s right before you’re about to begin the book, as a taste of the adventure to come.

So there you have it. The book has manifested itself in the real world, and is available to all… even those who don’t have a digital device with which to read it (which, at last count, is most humans).

And what’s more, there’s now a permanent record of my impact on the world. So even after the internet goes down, in a future when radioactive trees overthrow humanity and catapult civilization as we know it into ages so dark that the actual Dark Ages look like indoor fluorescent lighting in comparison, the few remaining humans clinging to life in their poisonous garbage huts will still be able to read Mister Mercury.

Or at least they will until our tree overlords force-feed every last copy to them as a punishment for inventing the library.

No feedback yet
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be revealed on this site.
(For my next comment on this site)
(Allow users to contact me through a message form -- Your email will not be revealed!)
Are you a robot?
Please answer the question above.