Flash! Did Mark Twain consider the e-book rights?

Flash! Did Mark Twain consider the e-book rights?

When you think Mark Twain, you probably think more about rafts and jumping frog contests than high tech.

I’m reading The Autobiography of Mark Twain right now.

The author was surprisingly high tech.  He invested in new technology, and seems surprised when someone doesn’t have a telephone.

I’ll write more about the book when I finish it, but this passage considerably surprised me.

George Harvey was acting as Mark Twain’s agent.  A document is quoted that says this:

“The agreement would, of course, provide for publication in whatever modes should then be prevalent, that is, by printing as at present, or by use of phonographic cylinders, or by electrical method, or by any other mode which may then be in use, any number of which would doubtless occur to his vivid imagination, and would form an interesting clause in the agreement.”

Phonographic cylinders obviously presages audiobooks, but “electrical method”?  That clearly sounds like e-books (even if the “e” is for electronic and not electrical).

The plan was to publish the Autobiography one hundred years after Twain’s death, so they were trying to look ahead.  Yes, it also sounds somewhat like that part of the contract would be written in part to amuse Twain.  That does suggest, though, that Twain would have looked at it or had it discussed with him…so he would have been considering the e-book rights one hundred years ago.

Hmm…can you picture Huck Finn with a smartphone?  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


6 Responses to “Flash! Did Mark Twain consider the e-book rights?”

  1. Tom Madsen Says:

    I suppose being such good buddies with Edison, he probably heard some interesting head in the cloud ideas. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts on this book. I have it added to my list of things to read.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Edison hasn’t shown up as a “character” yet, although I like your “head in the clouds” line. 🙂 I think Twain was quite the forward-thinker on his own…A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is a time travel/first contact (with the future) tale, even if the time travel doesn’t involve wormholes and quarks. 🙂

  2. Tom Madsen Says:

    Reading some of the reviews on Amazon they are complaining about the size of the book (comparing to hauling around a phone book) and small font size. It sure is nice not having that issue huh? 🙂

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing again, Tom!

      Yes, that’s definitely nice! I think Mark Twain would approve…especially if it got him more royalties. 😉 Listening to it, it’s a little hard to tell when it is Twain and when it is the compilers/editors. Even sight-reading, that’s not always as clear as it could be.

      And, gee…this is only Volume 1… 🙂

  3. Special offer: get one of 50 biography & history titles for $1 « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Flash! Did Mark Twain consider the e-book rights? […]

  4. Amazon has added more accessibility features for Kindle books | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] So, I don’t think e-books or SmartPhones would particularly shock them (Mark Twain’s agent apparently even considered something like e-books, as I wrote about in Flash! Did Mark Twain consider the e-book rights?). […]

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