Files That Last

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An ebook on digital preservation for home users, organizations, and administrators. Information on backup, archiving, format choice, organization, and more!
Updated: 14 min 59 sec ago

An apology to my supporters

6 September 2013 - 10:57am

It’s time to declare Files that Last a flop.

Most books are flops. This wouldn’t be so bad in itself, but I produced the book with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. If you were one of my supporters, you wanted and expected something good. It’s clear from the lack of reviews and sales that I didn’t deliver. It ranks #271,981 on the Kindle best-seller list.

I wish I knew why. I got a few negative comments in private communication, but nothing deeply disappointed. There were the inevitable complaints about typos, even after proofreading. No one ever catches them all, and I don’t think that was the problem. There were a couple of complaints about omissions of favorite topics; that’s inevitable too. There were a few very enthusiastic public comments. What there wasn’t was any real reviews, any ratings on websites that offered the books, any discussion. Since I published the book, there hasn’t been a single comment on this blog other than blocked spam. Reviews are the life of a book, and FTL was DOA. People didn’t hate it; it just didn’t generate enough enthusiasm to get people to say anything about it publicly.

People do want a book on “digital preservation for everygeek.” I wouldn’t have gotten the support that I got on Kickstarter without that. What I delivered somehow wasn’t what you wanted. I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone else from making the effort, with more engaging writing, more relevant content, or whatever it was I didn’t provide.

As for me, on to other things. I may as well “remainder” the book, so here’s a Smashwords coupon code that’s good for 60% off (on the Smashwords site only) till the end of 2015: XY29D. Post it wherever you think people might be interested.

Thanks once again to my Kickstarter supporters, and to Matt and Terri for their work in making it a better book.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

A note to someone who attended Conterpoint

13 July 2013 - 1:52pm

At Conterpoint 2013, I put out two free CDs of FTL that people could take under the condition that they write a public review, and both of them were taken. I don’t know who these people are, or whether they’ve published a review yet or are still working on it, but if you’re one of them, could you give me a link to the review when it’s available?

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Independence Day sale!

1 July 2013 - 9:51am

From now through July 4, you can get Files that Last on Smashwords at 40% off by entering the coupon code XE93J. The 4th of July is a day not only for fireworks but for thinking about historical documents, and for making sure they survive even if they accidentally turn into fireworks.

OK, it’s not light summer reading, but brushing up your preservation skills never hurts.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Another thank you

30 June 2013 - 11:07pm

Thanks to Deb Wunder for giving FTL a mention.

Just bought from Valuable resource for freelancers/anyone else who needs to preserve data

— otherdeb (@otherdeb) June 30, 2013

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Thanks, Debbie!

7 June 2013 - 10:03pm

From Twitter:

Writers & illus: one backup isn’t enough. Find *excellent* tips in FILES THAT LAST by @garym03062:

— Debbie Ridpath Ohi (@inkyelbows) June 7, 2013

Categories: Planet DigiPres

FTL at Dartmouth Library

6 June 2013 - 11:12am

Just for fun, here’s a video of me singing the “Files that Last” song at the Dartmouth College Library. The sound isn’t great, and it’s obvious why I never went for a career as a singer, but it was fun.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

The silence is deafening

3 June 2013 - 10:04am

So far I haven’t seen a single review of Files that Last, which leaves me with the nagging feeling that everyone thinks it sucks but is too polite to say so.

If anyone’s come across any reviews, could you let me know? If you have thoughts of your own about the book, either review it on any suitable site (e.g., Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, or your own blog) or let me know here. An e-book can be revised as easily as a piece of software, correcting errors or making additions that would improve it. If it isn’t the e-book for “digital preservation for everygeek” as it stands, what changes would it take to achieve that?

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Time to think of the fall

20 May 2013 - 10:21am

It’s mid-May, and graduations are already starting. Those of you who teach know it isn’t too soon to plan for the fall’s courses. If you’re teaching a course that touches on system management, data maintenance, or preservation issues, you should consider including Files that Last on its reading list.

Preservation Services at Dartmouth College offered a reading list in digital preservation in 2012. That list, which predates FTL, suggests several books which focus on preservation from an institutional standpoint. The Planets Project (which has become the Open Planets Foundation) has an older but longer bibliography in a similar vein. Files that Last complements books like these with its focus on a broader computer audience, the people who need to do preservation as an aspect of their regular work, rather than being primarily information curators.

If your students read Files that Last, it will help them understand the issues of data preservation and loss and appreciate the importance of good data maintenance practices, and they’ll learn habits that will let them better control the data in their own lives and their future jobs.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Introducing the update page

16 May 2013 - 9:57am

I’ve launched a page of updates and errata for Files that Last, with some new information on the WebP still image format. As I learn about things that have changed or mistakes in the book, I’ll add to the page.

If you spot anything that you think needs fixing, please let me know.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

FTL on Amazon

13 May 2013 - 9:41am

Files that Last is now available as a Kindle e-book.

Smashwords was taking forever to get “technical integration” from Amazon, and when I got a query from a friend about Amazon availability, I decided to go with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Amazon’s registration process isn’t more painful than you’d expect, given that they need to pay me and report my income, and the submission process gives me more control than Smashwords’ does, though it takes more work to take full advantage of it. (The best way to submit a book to KDP is as an HTML file with detailed CSS, and saving as HTML from OpenOffice gives you that. I had to make some manual changes to the CSS for a good result.) This means there are some differences in formatting between the Smashwords and KDP editions. There shouldn’t be any differences in content.

I’m not thrilled with Amazon’s commitment to DRM, closed platforms, and licensing rather than really selling e-books, but I don’t dislike them enough to cut myself off from that market. So if you’ve been holding out for the Kindle version, wait no more!

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Cinco de Mayo sale!

3 May 2013 - 9:33am

Yes, it’s only tres de mayo, but Sunday is a lousy day to hold a sale. Besides, today is International Day against DRM. For today through the 5th, you can get Files that Last on Smashwords — DRM-free, of course — for the super-low price of $2.99 instead of the usual $7.99. Enter the coupon code TT58Q when buying the book to get this price. If you already have it, why not buying a copy for a friend or colleague?

This applies only to copies bought on Smashwords, not on other sites. Sorry if you prefer to buy on the iTunes store, but I’m not able to issue coupons for other sites.

Categories: Planet DigiPres


2 May 2013 - 11:24am

Files that Last is the first e-book on digital preservation directed at “everygeek.” In case your layout doesn’t show you the page links (e.g., on a mobile device), you can read what the book’s about and how to get it here.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Promoting FTL

29 April 2013 - 11:13am

Looking for a way to get the word out about digital preservation? I’ve added a new page on reviewing FTL to this site. All publicity (well, nearly all) is good!

Categories: Planet DigiPres

FTL, now available from iTunes and Kobo!

25 April 2013 - 10:14am

You can now buy Files that Last from the iTunes Store or from Kobo!

Which way should you go? I’ll say first of all, just buy the book and I’ll be happy. Buying through Smashwords will give me a bigger cut than the other channels, but a sale’s a sale. If you’re planning to read it on an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, getting it from Apple is the easiest way to get it on there. I don’t really know anything about Kobo.

There should be more ways to buy FTL within the next week or so.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

FTL for libraries

24 April 2013 - 10:36am

Libraries can buy Files that Last through Axis360 and Cloud Library, or will be able to at some point in the future. Since libraries are clearly key customers, both as users and as lenders, I’ve made the book available to them at a permanent discount, for $6.99. In addition to those aggregators, buyers can buy through Smashwords’ Library Direct.

Librarians, please let me know if you have good or bad experiences buying the book this way, or if you’ve had past experience with these channels.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

FTL Launch Day!

18 April 2013 - 9:23am

Yes, it’s finally here! You can now buy Files that Last on Smashwords for just $7.99.

In fact, you can buy it for less than that — “for a limited time only,” as they say in the commercials. Enter this coupon code:


and you’ll get 20% off. But it’s good only till April 20. I can’t figure out whether than means at the beginning or the end of the day or in what time zone, so use the coupon before the 20th to be safe.

You need a Smashwords account to buy the book. It’s free, and I’ve never been spammed. In time Smashwords will make the book available through other outlets; I’ll post here as I learn about them.

I’m thrilled that the book is finally done and available, but now comes the hard work of selling it. Please mention or review it where interested people will see it. There will be ads (I’ve set up a Google Ad Words account), but the real key to the success of the book will be people who read it and spread the word.

Thanks once again to Matt Leger for the cover and Terri Wells for the proofreading, and to all my Kickstarter backers. Special thanks to Jay Gattuso, who backed the project at the Sponsor level. If you’re one of those backers at the $10 level or higher, you should have gotten a coupon code to download the book for free. If you haven’t received it, get in touch with me and I’ll see what I can do,.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Release date: April 18!

10 April 2013 - 11:15am

I’m going through the proofread copy and making final corrections. You don’t want to know how many embarrassing typos Terri Wells has saved me from. After that, it’s a matter of getting it up on Smashwords and satisfying all their formatting requirements, and on April 18 it will be available for purchase! Everyone who pledged on Kickstarter at the $10 level or higher will get a code to download it for free.

If you’re involved in a Preservation Week event, please think about a way to include a mention of Files that Last.

I’m thrilled, if slightly exhausted, to be bringing this project to a successful conclusion. Thank you all once again for your support!

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Going into final editing

8 April 2013 - 9:14pm

I’ve got Terri Wells’ edits back in the mail, so now I have to make a final run through the book. After making all the corrections, there will still be work to get it up on Smashwords. My experience with JHOVE Tips for Developers, which I did mostly as a practice run, shows that it will take several revision cycles to get the book’s style to satisfy all of Smashwords’ criteria. (JHOVE Tips still doesn’t qualify for the premium catalog.) Smashwords doesn’t have any provision for submitting a book as a private draft, so please don’t buy it till I say here that it’s ready.

The amount of support that I’ve gotten on this project has been fantastic. I hope you’ll be as happy with the result as I am.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

New look

4 April 2013 - 12:32pm

I’ve just revamped the look of the blog to better call attention to the book. Let me know if you think it works or not.

The CSS on the “About” page needs reworking. I’ll get to that soon.

Categories: Planet DigiPres

Current status

1 April 2013 - 7:37pm

I’ve had to change proofreaders at a late date, but I think the new proofreader will do very well. I’m still committed to getting the book out in April.

I’d changed the default page of to point at the “About” page. Unfortunately, this left no way to get to the posts page, and every solution to this that I’ve seen requires writing PHP, which isn’t allowed on WordPress-hosted blogs. I really want to attract more attention to the “About” page, which is the one that actually promotes the book, but for the moment I’ve just changed the default page back.

Categories: Planet DigiPres