Top Stories from the Business pages of the International Herald Tribune,
Monday, June 24, 1996

Writers Plot Work And Life On Web


By Brad Spurgeon International Herald Tribune
PARIS - Even as many writers fight for electronic rights and show wariness about dealing with the new media, many are also starting to use the Internet to simplify their business dealings. Margaret Atwood, a Canadian author, has put pages on the World Wide Web portion of the Internet for several reasons related to business.

''It is an effective way of providing information for readers, scholars and students,'' she related through her assistant, Sarah Cooper, who acts as Webmaster. ''We get a lot of requests for routine information, and we hoped that by making it available on the Web, we would decrease the volume of written requests. It worked.''

Ms. Atwood, whose novels are international best-sellers, said, ''Users come from all over the world: The largest portion are from the U.S. and Canada, but we've had users log on from Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Bermuda, Malaysia, Russia, Mexico, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, as well as all of the European countries.''

Her latest statistics indicate that 461 files are downloaded daily from her address at:

Although Ms. Atwood chose and/or wrote the information on the site including biographical and bibliographical information and links to other sites she called on professionals to do the technical layout and formatting.

But many other writers are doing the technical work themselves particularly genre writers such as those in the fields of crime, science fiction and fantasy.

Charles de Lint, a leading fantasy writer, did it himself after deciding to create a Web site, he said, to ''set the record straight in terms of what others were writing about me on the Web.''

The site aims to promote his writing he provides a link to his publisher's Web site and ''to give readers a place to find out the things they normally write to ask.''

Mr. de Lint said he taught himself how to do the formatting, layout and design and asked for advice when he ''couldn't figure out how to do something.''

In the first two weeks of operation this year, his site at had 150 hits a week.

Mr. de Lint called electronic media the way of the future and ''a great way to advertise when you have no budget'' but said he was not afraid of the electronic media putting him out of the book business.

''Until they come up with a real cheap reading device, I doubt it'll replace books or magazines,'' he said. ''Who wants to take a computer, no matter how small, to the beach? ''


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