Ballistics by the inch

Take a walk on the wild side.

I’m a blockhead.

No, really. Samuel Johnson’s quote establishes it beyond a doubt:

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

For years I listened to people go on and on about how beneficial my writing about being a care-giver was. All the praise, the sharing, the requests to write more, to collect my writings into a book. The final result has been for Her Final Year to sell a grand total of 32 copies, after years of work and months of flogging the book. What a staggering success.

Yup, a blockhead.

Also for years now I’ve listened to countless proclamations of how incredible and valuable Ballistics By The Inch is. How it is an amazing resource for anyone interested in hard data. This has been in discussions on different forums and blogs which I have stumbled upon. And it’s reflected in the hits & usage of the site, as well, with over 8 million hits total and something on the order of 500,000 unique visitors. There’ve been plenty of people who have written me, thanking me, telling me that we should accept donations to support our work. So, for the re-launch we have done just that – added a way for people to show how much they value the site with a small donation. And in the short time we’ve had the new site up we’ve had over 5,000 unique visitors, and gotten just one donation of $10. At that rate, we’d have gotten a stunning total of $1,000 in donations since the start – it wouldn’t even cover the cost of hosting the website.

Yup, a blockhead.

My novel has been downloaded over 35,000 times in the last 5 years. People have told me they love it, that it’s brilliant and just like the classic SF of the golden era. Sometime in the next few weeks we’ll offer a self-published version of the book in hardcopy and for the Kindle. And I’m not so much a blockhead that I expect to actually sell copies of the thing. But I bet – I just bet – that somehow I’ll manage to be disappointed, nonetheless. Probably when I start getting complaints that the book is no longer free.

Screw it. I swear, I am seriously tempted to just shut down all the websites. Yup, BBTI too. Just leave a brief description of the project up with an email address where people can contact me to buy access to the data. Like the song says:

Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City’s the place where
They said hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
They said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side

But being a blockhead, we’ll see what happens.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

December 6, 2011 - Posted by | Data, Discussion.


  1. […] had a bit of a temper tantrum the other day. I won’t apologize, because it was how I really felt. But I will say that a couple of things […]

    Pingback by OK, thanks. « Ballistics by the inch | December 9, 2011 | Reply

  2. […] had a bit of a temper tantrum the other day. I won’t apologize, because it was how I really felt. But I will say that a couple of things […]

    Pingback by OK, thanks. « Communion Of Dreams | December 9, 2011 | Reply

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