INDIANLAKE-At the science fiction book display at Indian Lake Central School, one work was different from the others. Sure, it had a plot and characters. But it was stored on a USB device the size of a credit card. Students could read the book on a computer, the district's e-readers or with a smartphone.
It's "Life After Sleep," a novella by Mark R. Brand, the son of Robin and Mark T. Brand, the ILCS home and careers teacher and district superintendent. And it's an experiment in alternate means of selling books.
The title can be downloaded online for free, though a donation of any amount is requested. It can be purchased for $10 on a USB device that includes the book equivalent of a DVD's special features: other samples of the author's work, and a making-of-the-novel video documentary, among other items. A handmade, paper copy of the book can be purchased for $15.
The younger Mark, 32, is a clinical massage therapist living inChicago, Ill. While he was attending Indian River Central School in Jefferson County, he was a star writing student, his father said.
"We've always been very proud of Mark and what he's been able to do that way," the elder Mark said.
The younger Mark said he started writing around age 14, and had really good English teachers in high school who encouraged his talent.
"I was a big science fiction fan when I was a kid," he said.
He attempted to write his first novel during his freshman year of St. Lawrence University and since then has published three books, two in print form, in addition to "Life After Sleep."
The pay-what-you-want system for the book was similar to that the band Radiohead employed for its 2007 album "InRainbows," the younger Mark said.
Putting the book on a USB device was primarily a marketing decision, according to the younger Mark. In that form, it could be more easily hawked at events.