TWU professor nominated for international eBook award

Langley, British Columbia—Rick Sutcliffe, professor of mathematics and computing science at Trinity Western University, has been nominated for an international prize, the Frankfurt eBook Award, for his Christian science fiction novel, The Peace. A total of six award winners for several categories, including the grand prize winner of US$100,000 for the best original eBook, will be announced in October at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The winners will be presented with the awards on October 20 at a ceremony in Frankfurt, Germany.

The Frankfurt eBook award is not a conventional award, nor is Sutcliffe’s novel a traditional style of book. Rather, both are part of a new phenomenon known as electronic books (eBooks). “Electronic books are the wave of the future,” says Sutcliffe, who published The Peace with web publisher Bookmice.com.

Sutcliffe’s book addresses issues associated with the very technological advances that have allowed him to publish his novel online. “The book is somewhat connected with ideas that I work on with Trinity Western students in my Ethical and Social Issues in High Technology class,” says Sutcliffe. “I thought it would be interesting to explore some of my ideas about society and technology in a fictional setting.”

The use and misuse of biotechnology, biological warfare and nuclear technology are a few of the issues around which the story centers. “The problem with very high technology is that eventually, a large number of people have, within their own hands, the capability to destroy the world,” says Sutcliffe. “The question one can legitimately ask is how any civilization can survive when someone, or many people, decide to do that—whether it be because they are upset or because it gets out of their control.”

The Peace is the first novel in Sutcliffe’s series called The Interregnum, and will be followed as soon as this fall by a second book, The Friends. However, this is not the first time that Sutcliffe has published a book online.

He went online with his computing science textbook after the company that originally printed it in the mid-1980’s closed. “I revised it extensively for my own students, and I also made it available on the Internet,” says Sutcliffe. “I’ve actually done better with it as an electronic book than I ever did when it was on paper.”

The textbook, which sold around 2,500 copies in the five to six-year period that it was in print, is now selling at the rate of about 700 copies per year electronically. It has been especially popular in Australia. Two universities in Australia and one in Austria have been printing it in their bookstores for use. As well, a consortium of universities in Great Britain that publishes a CD of programming resources for students included Sutcliffe’s textbook on the CD. “There could be between 40,000 and 50,000 copies of that and other CDs containing the book around,” says Sutcliffe.

Sutcliffe states that while there were a handful of eBooks around when he first published his textbook online, electronic fiction publishers are something quite new. “There might have been one or two pioneers as far back as 5 years ago,” says Sutcliffe. “I’ve been sitting on my fiction waiting for this opportunity to arrive.”

It was a trend that Sutcliffe had already predicted. “Back in the 70s, I wrote about electronic books and magazines replacing paper ones,” says Sutcliffe. “I assumed that eventually the breakthrough would occur.”

However, Sutcliffe did not predict that the breakthrough would also win him a nomination from Bookmice.com for the Frankfurt eBook Award. As he waits to hear who will bring home the grand prize of $100,000 from the International eBook Award Foundation, Sutcliffe will remain busy instructing at TWU, writing novels, representing Canada on international computing standards committees and even appearing Thursday, August 3, on CKNW’s Rafe Mair Show.

The Peace can be purchased from Bookmice.com or through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as other online bookstores. More information on Sutcliffe and his books can be found at http://www.arjay.bc.ca.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling 2,763 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2012-08-21
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