"The Story of Computing" - Upcoming Book Photo

In April of 2011 I went to Prague: one of the places I visited was Karel Čapek's grave. If you don't recognize the name, he's most famous today for bringing us the word "Robot" with his 1920 play "R.U.R" ("Rossum's Universal Robots").

photo: Čapek's grave in Prague

Karel Čapek's grave with red-white-and-blue ribbons and a small tin robot

When I got back from the trip, this was one of my favourite photos - the little tin wind-up robot in Czech colours was a wonderful find. I sent it to Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing. Cory and I have known each other for years (although not well) because we were both science fiction geeks growing up in Toronto and ran into each other occasionally. He liked the photo and posted it on Boing Boing and I had my 15 seconds of fame. Andy Warhol claimed you get 15 minutes, but this is the Internet - that's orders of magnitude more than its attention span.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by someone from Arcturus Publishing who said they wanted to use this photo in a new book by Dermot Turing called The Story of Computing. I've had requests to use my photos before, although quite infrequently - perhaps every couple years. But usually it's someone asking to use a photo on some other small website. I'm usually agreeable, but I do my due diligence. Dermot Turing is Alan Turing's nephew, and recently published a biography of his famous uncle. And the book is already listed on Amazon (not the Canadian Amazon, only the American one) although the publication date is listed as May 2018. I have to guess they knew of the image because of Boing Boing - it's not like a lot of people read my website.

UPDATE: I originally stated that my photo would be used on the cover. When the post went up, the publisher rep corrected me: the photo is to be used inside the book, not on the cover. My over-imaginative error.

I'm a computer geek, and Alan Turing's nephew wants to put my picture in his history of computing? I resisted the urge to say "yes" immediately. I requested a photo credit (I consider that non-negotiable) and a copy of the book, and they agreed. I suppose I wouldn't have asked for anything more than that even if I hadn't been mildly awed by the author and thrilled with the subject - I'm just happy when people like my photos enough to want to use them. But I was really hoping they'd accept this time. Margins in publishing are fairly thin these days and authors usually only get 5-10 copies of their own books, and now they'll have to ship one to Canada. It's not a huge cost, but it's not nothing either and they could have had a Creative Commons licensed photo for nothing, or found another photographer who considered publication as payment enough. So I'm pleased and proud, and look forward to reading the book.