Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

WSJ and NYTimes say B&N’s Nook is underdone

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Both of the nation’s leading technology columnists, Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue at the New York Times (Not Yet the Season for a Nook), roasted Barnes and Noble’s ebook reader in their reviews today. Click through and read what the e-sages have to say. Note: you may have to register or subscribe to read the columns. You can also read Walt’s review at his All Things Digital site.

I have no comment yet, because I (like everyone else) have never seen a Nook. In general, I applaud developers of e-book readers and hope this additional product will spur consumer choice, but I think we will still have to wait for Apple’s tablet to get an iPod-class example of e-readers. Of course the biggest obstacle to e-books is not the merit or temporary bug-level of individual models but the predatory nature of the business models. Vendors want to trap consumers in their business model rather than replicate and expand the nature of reading and pocketing a profit along the way.

Don’t be misled, e-books are coming. Partly because of technological advantage, and partly because of blind greed on the part of publishers and retailers. They hope to continue to make profits from owning 85-96% of the retail price for books while keeping the price to consumers at the level of physical books. This cannot continue. Publishers and retailers see making huge profits selling an e-book for $24 and never having to ship, inventory or display a physical object. I can’t see this. But then I never saw all the colored lights in the 70s either.

Credible Rumor: Apple e-book terms

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

In today’s Apple 2.0 blog at Fortune, Phillip Elmer-DeWitt has rounded up the latest rumors on the unicorn-like Apple tablet device. Read Apple tablet set for spring launch for the details. This is the first collection of tablet rumors that include details of what the cash flow deal will be with publishers for ebooks, and the numbers are right in line with our agency projections for the past two years.

Currently the Kindle Portable Bookstore device has kept 65% of the retail price for e-books giving authors ultimately only 15% of 35% for electronic editions of their works. That’s a 5% royalty on an ebook sale where no physical product is involved. It has always been our agency position that authors should get at least 33.5% of the retail price of an ebook sale, sharing a third each for Publisher and Retailer. The Fortune story also quotes a Wall Street Journal story that Simon and Schuster and Hachette are holding off on e-books, you can read that through Fortune or here.

Today’s e-book market is the wild west with publishers making corporate edicts that they must control e-rights, will never revert titles kept available on some spinning disk somewhere and offering a pittance to the authors. The publishers are not totally at fault; they are greedy but they didn’t think up this mess alone. E-book channels are murky and schoolyard bullies who make devices and try to sell electronic books either demand large shares of the cash flow or tie the works to their proprietary devices. The agent’s and author’s business challenge has been to cope with publishing deals in which we are offered 10-20% of the “net” when the net is computed behind a closed door that even the publishers cannot always see behind. The Apple model should clarify things a lot.

More as we learn it.

Bookstore Baksheesh Revealed

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Adam Pennenberg has written an informative piece at Fast Company, the business news website, that reveals a business practice agents and publishers have bemoaned for years: bookstores have to be paid to promote the books they stock. I won’t recap the issues in the article, just go read it here. In brief: placement on the front table in a major chain bookstore costs the publisher up-front, about $30,000. Yes, after the publisher has paid the author’s advance, the costs of publishing and manufacturing the books, they also have to pay the booksellers to try to sell the book.

What Adam omitted from his article is that the chains only guarantee a 65% to 75% compliance with the “promotion.” This is why, even if your publisher paid a co-op fee, you can’t find your book in some stores at all.

Ever since executives fleeing the collapsing retail grocery business joined booksellers a decade ago, they’ve made two changes that damage their own adopted industry.

First, they switched the book retailing model from selling books, to charging for shelf space for displaying books. This works in the grocery business where beer and canned soup turn over every day and the consistency of content is key to retailing. Everyone wants every can of Campbell’s tomato soup or Pepsi to be exactly the same. Books are different. An obscure novel by Mark Twain might sit in the store for two years before selling. Bookstore space devoted to shrinking backlist choice is a casualty of mentally valuing space over variety of titles. The practice of pricing space hurts books and opens the door for Amazon to stock titles that can’t be economically carried in every bookstore. Amazon wants to be paid for promotions too, but that’s just the spread of a bad practice. As Adam explains in his story, only a small part of a bookstore’s space is pre-paid, compared to a retail grocer, but just enough to hurt new authors and publishers. Inescapable point: every can of beans is substitutable; every book is unique.

The second error of the grocers in the book business was to abandon all marketing technique except discounting. Discounting and couponing work in the grocery because money saved by the consumer on the weekly, or coupon, special can be recovered by impulse purchases of high profit items. Unfortunately in bookstores, discounting new or unique works, makes them less profitable to publish and channels the impulse money into candy and trivial works that can be jammed up near the register. Since everyone goes in the grocery at least once a week for milk, bread and whatnot, creating the image that everything is discounted at your grocery chain, can draw business. Discounting is an effective draw for pure commodity retailing; milk is mostly milk. Books are different. Except for uniform series novelists, every book is different, and even in series like Harry Potter, the substance of the novel changes from book to book. By continuously broadcasting the message to consumers that low price is the decision criteria for buying books, booksellers have poisoned the concept that content matters. If low price is the qualifier for all books, why do I need to buy any particular book today?

I believe that book chains don’t really want to be in the book business. They just want money because they control the access to readers. This allows them to dodge the question of responsibility for doing their job (selling books) and instead to collect an entitlement (basically a tax) for being in control of a step in the process. Unfortunately, they never draw new book buyers into their stores. The message is always: if you buy books we got a bunch of cheap stuff here, but they don’t even try to get new people to buy books. That would require a different type of marketing.

Last year, one chain did try something new. Picking up a CEO from the department store industry (and you know how well that business is faring) he explained that “we sold more dresses displayed full front, than sleeve out in racks, so we are now going to feature more copies of fewer titles racked face out.” I don’t know how this is going but I await the new bestseller in petit, small, medium, and full figure in a choice of pink, teal, and cocoa.

Hyatt has no reservations

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson, chimed in on the Harlequin Hoopla today and his blog is worth reading if you take your blood pressure medicine first. Don’t take our word for what he said, go read his blog and our comments.

A lot of what he says about publishing is accurate. What’s surprising is how candid he is. He intends to refute three tall tales of self-publishing and yet reinforces them all. Throughout, there’s an overall slap at agents.

Self-publishing dilutes the brand of the sponsoring company
His argument against brand dilution is mostly accurate:  consumers are largely brand blind, and the example he gives for the “imprint challenge” is undoubtedly true. However, readers are not completely brand insensitive: how does he think readers of Thomas Nelson books would respond if Thomas Nelson started publishing books on atheism or that were manifestly below the usual quality expected of Thomas Nelson? Would Thomas Nelson hear from readers, or would readers vote with their dollars? Both, I suspect. He says he knows what his brand represents and that WestBow Press is “fully within that tradition.” The WestBow Press website says “We want readers to have confidence in our books.” Yet WestBow Press is willing to accept payment for publishing all comers under the WestBow Press imprint, (provided that the submitted book meets stated Christian criteria), and on the WestBow website promote publication with WestBow as an opportunity to be discovered by Thomas Nelson. While Christianity may be all about offering hope, what WestBow/Thomas Nelson doesn’t say is that the likelihood of being “discovered” from your book at WestBow is probably about the same as being “discovered” at a diner in Hollywood, even if you are wearing a nice sweater (cover). Hyatt is unfortunately blind to the ethical issue of running both a real business and a predatory one that promises everything and nothing at the same time, and charges far more than what an author who merely wants to publish his book might pay a copyeditor and a printer for the same pleasure of having 500 copies in his garage.

Grumpy old agent comments: Apply his ethical blindness to other aspects of life and the churches will open casinos. Church members are used to giving money to their church with no earthly return. Gamblers pour money into casinos with a false hope they will eventually win it back. What’s the real difference? Both models move money from individuals to organizations with feeling good the only return. At home, his position will tempt husbands world wide to carry on tawdry affairs and justify them by saying: “She means nothing to me, she’s just extra, non-committal sex”–oh, wait, they already do this… Like the cheating spouse, Harlequin, or likely Torstar and Thomas Nelson, want it both ways. WestBow will take the author’s money and pretend-publish a book with no other chances for publicaton, while refusing to publish any book that doesn’t meet their Christian criteria regardless of merit. OK but the same logic will justify all kinds of “I did it because it felt good” activities.

Self-publishing will flood the market with poor quality books.
Hyatt argues that fake books will not flood the market and drive out real books, because book stores won’t carry them and being listed in a database won’t make them noticeable. He makes the case for the futility of self-publishing pretty well. Nice job here. He concludes:

We live in an age when technology and the public’s desire for self-expression make user-generated content viable. If people want to publish their own book through print-on-demand (POD), subsidy or vanity publishing, or whatever, why should anyone else care?

Excellent point, particularly as in his blog, he admits that “very few of these [self-published books] find their way to bookstore shelves.” Do they put that on the WestBow Press website – no, they charge $2,799 for the “essentials needed to increase your chances of commercial success.” Perhaps none of the WestBow authors will read Mr. Hyatt’s blog and discover that their chances of commercial success are so close to nil.

Self-publishing rips off the authors.
Hyatt’s final point is that informed authors, or those who would like to be published authors, should be allowed, even encouraged, to toss their money down any sink hole they want. Bernie Madoff never required anyone to give him money, he just made up a big, fat lie that the promised returns were real. Self-publishing is simply a set of available tools, but Author Solutions taps individual’s needs for their own profits.
And as for Mr. Hyatt’s comment about publishers being “ripped off” because “Most of the books we publish don’t make money?” “Ripped off?” Have authors been delivering the phone book or sheaves of folded paper instead of their contracted novels?

Hyatt throughout is building a case against agents, a pretty self serving argument. In reality, most of the concern is being voiced by authors. I’m one of the few agents speaking out on this topic, but more will, because agents are the people most aware of the business model in publishing and are most concerned with the author’s rights and income. Agents do provide access, and the price of admission is a book good enough to be commercially published. Agents only get involved if we believe our time is worth what our 15% commission which we will earn from the author’s future income. The Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR) membership stipulates we cannot charge reading fees or otherwise profit from rejections. Author Solutions makes its money from authors, not from selling books to readers, and unfortunately, few self-published authors make any money from selling books to readers, either.

Both Carolyn and Ashley Grayson contributed to this item.

Harlequin Hystericals

Friday, November 20th, 2009

We are living in the world of The Onion. After opening the week announcing Harlequin Horizons, the pay-to-be-published venture, and getting called on it, the Big Romance Publisher shot itself in the other foot yesterday by responding to the RWA response by saying:

“we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business.  As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way.  We will initiate this process immediately.  We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us.”

Harlequin employs lots of literate people who understand things like character motivation and the credibility of prose. How then, did they write this stuff? The wording is clear and concise but understanding the context is lacking; it’s like publishing a romance novel with no romance. It addresses all the superficial text of the issue, without grasping the point: the business operated by this venture would not be an acceptable career for the hero of an Harlequin Romance. Changing the name for what you are doing is not going to make the activities acceptable. I’m sure any mystery author could spot the problem: rationalize everything during questioning but don’t let go of the game.

If this slackness in business catches on, we will shortly see announcements like these:

  • Miss America no longer pole-dancing under her title. While reigning as the symbol of purity she will be Miss America; while dancing, she will use the name Fifi La Boom-Boom.
  • Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi operations relaunched as The American Pretend Funds:  “We realized the public is unlikely to send money to Madoff With Your Money 2, but the Madoff business model is too good to let go so we changed the name. American Pretend Funds isn’t about being rich, its about imagining being rich. We help people pursue their dreams. We have to keep the dream alive.”

To quote that old saw, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

Thanks to novelist John Barnes for the Miss America line. Read about John’s new novel Tales of the Madman Underground here.

Read more about our agency at our page at Publishers Marketplace.

Harlequin Horizons, a mug’s game

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Remember how sad you felt when your neighbor’s son was arrested for dealing drugs out of his dorm room, or your cousin’s boss turned out to be running an investment scam? We typically think, “such a nice person who must have fallen into bad company…” We initially try to rationalize bad behavior. Then there’s Bernie Madoff who had everything and still chose to run the world’s biggest Ponzi scheme. Suddenly, financial desperation or a bad choice of friends is no cause or justification for criminal activities. Such a  choice to step over the line makes us even sadder. Sad for the victims and sad for the families of the victims and the families of the offenders. I feel the same way about Harlequin’s decision this week to launch Harlequin Horizons, a self-publishing business, for romance authors who elect to take the self-publishing route.

Several times a year, we agents get a come-on letter from swindlers who say: “Make money off those authors that you can’t represent. Include our self-publishing offer in your rejection letter and we will send you 15% of whatever they spend with us. We will even write the recommendation letter to include. You do no extra work and can pocket hundreds of dollars every month.” I, and many other agents, toss these letters in the trash or send them around to each other with snarky comments. I know no legitimate, actively selling agent who falls into collecting kick backs for promoting shady deals. We decline because we make money by selling worthy books to real publishers who pay advances and royalties to authors. We know that self-publishing is a mug’s game and the only winner is the fake-publisher. The definition of a mug’s game is “a futile or unprofitable endeavor.”

And this week, one of the best kids in town has stepped out of the spotlight and into the shadows. The funny guy in the Harlequin logo, whose parents own the best run fiction factory in the world, has turned down a dark, mean street. So sad.  What invoked this crazy scheme?  Car thieves make a lot of money, but most parents don’t want their kids to go into auto theft.  Just because writers will spend money to try to get published does not make it OK for commercial publishers to actively take their money. When I first saw the Harlequin Horizons website I thought it was an article in The Onion. Those wags just did a great fake news report on Ford’s New Car: the 1993 Taurus.

Who’s in this game? Author Solutions, no surprise there. According to their website, they hold the brands: AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford, and Xlibris. Each began as a vanity or POD press to suck money from unsuspecting or unprepared authors by charging authors money to be published. Now these operations are merged. How Harlequin got sucked into this I can’t imagine. Harlequin comes from a good family and has a history of tough but honest dealings in the real publishing business. They don’t need this.

The offer is reprehensible: For between $600 and $1,600 you can pretend to be a published author. You won’t be, really published, because no commercial publisher liked your book well enough to bring it to market. They will just pretend to offer it for sale if you pay the costs. Harlequin’s follow up announcement today, blows even more smoke:

For the first time since figures have been kept, print-on-demand titles outpaced traditionally-published titles in 2008 according to Bowker. Self-published print-on-demand titles make up a large portion of this expanding sector. This is not traditional vanity press publishing; self-publishing is a large and vibrant part of the publishing industry today.

While the number of self-published titles may have exceeded the number of “real” book titles in 2008, the number of actual sales of all those titles to readers is virtually zero. Before they all got swept under the Author Solutions rug, Author House and Xlibris reps told me at a Book Expo that “actual sales of titles average fewer than 100 copies, all of which are bought by the author.” The self-publishing industry ranks as a “bestseller” any book that sells over 500 copies. Self-publishing is an expanding sector because those whose sole mission is to suck money have concluded that it is easier to get money from authors wanting to be published than from readers wanting to buy books. This does fulfill a certain twisted logic. Publishing a successful book requires editorial judgment, investment of resources, dealing with book-selling channels that increasingly demand a bigger share of the cash flow, and appealing to fickle readers. The self-publishing model is sooo much simpler. There’s only one customer, the author, and he or she buys all the books which are never manufactured until purchased. Of course this is a growing segment of publishing; the publisher gets money, takes no risk and retailers are not actively involved

So ask yourself: are you going to buy these books? Will your friends who read and who don’t currently buy enough commercially published books to keep profits up at commercial publishers suddenly start buying and reading books like this? For the same money, you can have a nice day at a spa, modest cruise, resort stay, or fabulous dinner with friends.

You can always invest in your own development as a writer or treat yourself to a reward.  I think most romance authors, published or not, have too much self respect to fall for this.

Update: Here’s a link to the RWA response.

Opt out of Google Settlement by Sept 4

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

We are approaching the final deadline for authors to opt out of the Google Settlement. Our agency has advised our clients to opt out unless the author has a clear business and legal reason for opting in. If you haven’t already carefully determined that you need to opt in, the prudent course is to opt out. The Science Fiction Writers of America now recommends that members opt out and has a readable summary from the author’s perspective at their site.

Amazing Earthquake Trick

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Los Angeles experienced a 4.7 earthquake last night. Carolyn and I were sitting on the sofa when the shaking began. This was the most sudden and violent quake I’ve felt in 20+ years in LA. Nothing broke and no damage is apparent, yet one, and only one, book out of a thousand on our shelves, jumped out of a bookcase and hit the floor with a resounding BAM. The book in question was Ricky Jay’s Journal of Anomalies, a collection of his essays on hoaxsters, hustlers, and cheats (to quote the cover). This flying book event is worth a blog entry because Jay’s profession, when not writing books, is making objects do unexpected things. How did he do this; he wasn’t even in the room? See Ricky at work on this youtube video. (Disclaimer: Ricky Jay is not a client; I just like his work.)

Reading publisher’s contracts is much like watching a card trick. Where did the author’s rights go? What’s the value of the contract? Everything seems to be clear  in paragraph 5, but wow, paragraph 11 really controls the deal.

The Google Settlement

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

You may or may not be aware of what is known as the Google Book Settlement.  In short, Google was sued by the Authors Guild and several publishers who alleged that Google’s digitizing of books constituted copyright infringement.  Google and the Plaintiffs reached a proposed Settlement Agreement.This involves you because the Settlement Agreement covers all books and inserts (see definitions of books and inserts in our Guide) that were published before January 5, 2009.We have prepared our own analysis of the proposed Google Settlement Agreement and invite everyone to read it in the accompanying Guide.Please pay attention to the timelines, as the deadline for an action you might want to take is May 5, 2009.

Introduction:  Grumpy Literary Agent’s comments on the Google Settlement

The more we have studied this, the worse the situation and the implications have become. In no case have further details or understanding shown the Google Settlement to be better than we first thought.This is not a minor sub-rights issue that may make you $60 or less on each of your books. It is a major manipulation of the marketplace that effectively diminishes your ability to earn money from your works in significant new markets. In time, these new markets may become the only markets, so this is serious.The circumstances that brought this lawsuit and settlement about are simply about the march of technical capability; neither the circumstances nor the technical issues are good or bad. Like nuclear power in 1947 the technology is neutral and can be used to make bombs or generate power.Unfortunately, however, the settlement agreement as proposed mandates a compromise between technology-enabled business and copyright holders that serves neither.The settlement does several things:

  • It skips around Google’s past copyright violations by establishing an agreement that their acts against some works in the past are made legal in the future and apply to everyone. It amounts to saying, “we know you stole the victim’s curtains but instead of prosecuting you for burglary we will accept your offer of $12.95 payment and declare ‘curtain harvesting’ a valid activity with a price set between $1.99 and $29.99, but there will be at least five years before the payment reaches the curtainholders.”
  • It offers as representative authors of the class, not one author of adult trade fiction, thereby violating the rules of class actions. This is a legal procedural objection that is being made about the Settlement, but we have other concerns. Basically, no novelist was represented in the class.  More information is available at Scrivner’s Error.
  • It establishes a single electronic rights clearing house, the Book Rights Registry (BRR), with an entitlement to a percentage of the electronic income of all works. This amounts to a mandated electronics rights agency that every author is required to pay, but no author can question.  It inserts itself between authors and their agents (and editors and the publisher’s sub-rights managers) and an entire new world of business and taxes all transactions from day one.
  • It establishes the Book Rights Registry as the author’s de-facto agent for a range of electronic rights in books currently out of print but still under contract and grants the publisher electronic rights to those books even though the contracts may not contain e-rights language. It deprives the author and agent of the opportunity to exploit those rights as they see fit through negotiation. It pays a share of 50%-35% of the author’s income to publishers who may be out of business or no longer functioning as publishers and the author will have the legal expense of recovering rights. (See page 12 of our Guide)
    • “Consumers will have the ability to purchase online access to many in-copyright books for online reading, highlighting, limited printing, and other potential features. These features will be available for all in-copyright, out-of-print books unless the rightsholder chooses to deactivate these features, as well as for in-copyright, in-print books if the rightsholder chooses to activate these features. The agreement allows for Google and the Book Rights Registry to expand upon this with future additional offerings such as Print-on-Demand, Consumer Subscription, and other uses and services.”  (From The Association of American Publishers Google FAQ.)
  • It forms the market model for the value and future value of the electronic rights in your books. The Book Rights Registry gets an entitlement to all works, and can’t be removed from their position so they have no motive to act. Contrast this to a regular literary agent whose job it is to fight for the client.
  • While it sets up one agency the authors can’t fire, it also allows any number of additional sellers of display and e-rights to start businesses with the virtual guarantee that they never have to pay an author more than Google did. So Microsoft, Apple, The Open Source Republic of Gimmiestan,, etc. can all start businesses of any type and draw on all authors’ works without any further negotiation. Publishing consultants are already promising a gold rush of new business based on “content” with no recognition of “authors” in the business model.

Grumpy old agent thinks no good can come from this.Yet authors are being rushed to a deadline to acquiesce and not pay attention to what is going on.  In the rest of the booklet we have prepared, you will see what you can do, when you need to decide and what the alternatives are.

Grumpy old agent suggests the following…

  1. Empower yourself by reading our booklet and anything else you can to best understand the issues.
  2. Immediately and relentlessly in the near future write your congress critters, the Register of Copyrights and the White House, as well as your local newspapers and TV news desks to make your point. This is not part of the requirement to act on the Settlement, but it is important to expose the nature of the settlement.
  3. Please pay attention to the deadlines in the Guide and perform the record keeping suggested
  4. Every author has individual needs, intent, and financial goals, but no author should act without information. IF you are an author who wishes to have a say in what big companies can do with your works, and who makes money from them, you should seriously consider Opting Out of the Settlement, or Opt In and Object. The latter takes a little more resolve and a willingness to argue a position but hey, that’s why you became a writer, right? Besides, speaking out gets you publicity as the author of “Whatever Title” you want to promote. How to choose the optimal position for yourself and how to act to establish that position is covered in the remainder of this booklet.

Risk and Reward

By doing nothing, you risk losing control of your works if they are out of print and the income they may produce.By Opting Out or Objecting you can pursue a better reward for yourself, your financial dependents and your (eventual) estate. There is no higher risk for Opting Out or Objecting; that is, you can’t end up worse off for having done it.Everything you have to consider and acts to perform to be heard and protect yourself involve reading, filling out some forms, and writing. Nothing an author can’t do exceedingly well. If you need to register some of your own copyrights, you may have to pay some filing fees, but these are one time costs that ensure future income potential. You can’t afford not to.Can I ask my agent to do this?  It is possible for an agent to file on behalf of a client author, but we feel it is important for you to be aware of your titles and their status and make choices about them, and you can do it for a few minutes’ work of going online.Can I expect my Publisher to act for me?  Based on personal interviews, we found no publisher who had a ready document that stated what their action would be for the works whose electronic rights they control. No editor we spoke with was aware that the settlement hands publishers up to 50% of the authors e-rights that they never contracted for. We assume publishers will Opt In, but there are problems.Our estimates are that less than ten percent (10%) of published works have proper electronic rights clauses that authorize publishers to act in this matter. The Google Settlement presumes that if a publisher asserts control of the rights, the deal is done. Individual contracts will likely prevail, but there’s no process to consider author contracts until the BRR is set up and operating. So you have to trust what an unknown organization will do in the future.While publishers have recently started sending out letters asking authors to “give” the electronic rights to them, we, as agents, think this is a bad idea.

Other stuff

Objecting:  In the Guide we say that if you wish to object to the Settlement that you should consult with your own attorney.  You may wish to contact any writers organizations of which you are a member (Mystery Writers, SFWA, etc.) to see if they are planning to take action as an organization to object to the settlement, and you could join in the group’s objection.

References you may want to read

A law professor writes about the Settlement

 AGLA Guide to the Google Settlement  a downloadable PDF.

Feds have “Patriot Act” written to shut down the internet

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Sometimes the financial news is so much more important than publishing rumors, we have to read it. Check out this story at Fortune. The bottom line:
Lessig, a Stanford Law School professor who founded its Center for Internet and Society, said he came to this conclusion after a conversation with former federal counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke. Lessig said Clarke told him that the Justice Department had already written up much of the Patriot Act before the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and that there is a similar proposal on the shelf in case of an Internet catastrophe. Advocates of Internet openness will not be thrilled about its contents, Lessig said. “Vint Cerf is not going to like it very much,” Lessig recalls Clark saying.