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Monday, April 16, 2007 11:19 am
Picking “Webscabs”
Posted by: Keir Graff

Dr. Howard V. Hendrix, vice-president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, thinks some of his peers are selling themselves short — by giving away their work. From Galleycat (“Who Gives Away Books Online? ‘Scabs,’ Says Prominent Sci-Fi Writer,” by Ron Hogan):

howard-hendrix.jpgDr. Howard V. Hendrix (left), currently winding down his term as the vice-president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, really, really hates it when his peers in the sci-fi community publish their works online and distribute them for free. So much so that he recently issued a short statement on the subject which was published on the SFWA LiveJournal, in which he referred to such writers as “webscabs,” and accused them of “rotting our organization from within.” He got more specific: “Webscabs claim they’re just posting their books for free in an attempt to market and publicize them, but to my mind they’re undercutting those of us who aren’t giving it away for free and are trying to get publishers to pay a better wage for our hard work.” 

As you can imagine, the writers in question embraced the state-of-the art term “webscabs.” I’m guessing that Hendrix is just trying to make sure he doesn’t get nominated to serve on the SFWA board again. (He probably needs more time to market his writing.)

It’s fun to rubberneck on this debate — well, “debate” would presume that more SF writers shared Hendrix’s position — but my real question is this: why the heck does the site of a science-fiction writers association look like something from the age of dial-up modems?

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