Machine of Death, a collection of short fiction about people who know how they’re going to die, was born on the internet and inspired by one episode of a webcomic. Among its contributors are popular webcomics creators Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics) and David Malki (of one of my favorite webcomics, Wondermark). The basic premise of the stories is that a death-predicting machine can tell you how you’ll meet your end, and that this knowledge causes some fundamental changes in people’s lives. It’s a great idea, and even better that it’s available for free download under creative commons.
Editors North, Malki and Matthew Bennardo decided that they didn’t need anybody’s permission to make a book happen, so they tapped their fanbases and created an online movement to buy the book on Amazon.com on one specific date: October 26. The plan worked out better than they had ever imagined: not only did they hold the #1 spot on the site all day, they held it against Keith Richards’ autobiography and new releases from John Grisham and conservative commentator Glenn Beck.
Beck was quite upset that his book didn’t debut at number one. I guess Mssrs. Malki, North and Bennardo didn’t bother to check the calendar to see if they had any conflicts with Mr. Beck. Don’t you just hate when that happens, Glenn?