Also known as '1stBooks.com', and more recently "AuthorHouse.com", the 1stBooks Library is a commercial entity which exists to showcase new fiction from unpublished authors. The idea is that authors submit their work, it is included in 1stBook's roster, after which the book may be offered for free, or for a fee (in which case the reader can buy a paper version or an e-book). 1stBooks has been around since 1997. The company is based in Bloomington, Indiana.

This does not fully describe the horror of 1stBooks.com, however. Rather like a vanity publisher, or those poetry anthologies, it is not picky about the quality of work it accepts. In a perfect world, it would be a haven of interesting, creative fiction; unfortunately, it is not. In effect, 1stBooks' library consists of the following, all of which are painfully sincere:

- Autobiographes of uninteresting people;
- Deranged, 'Time Cube'-esque conspiracy theories;
- Novels which are thinly-veiled autobiographies of uninteresting people, usually fantasy novels starring strong, independent women called Cynara or Shan'yn or Mistress Something;
- Comic sci-fi novels which resemble the works of Terry Pratchett and were produced by students;
- Stuff which the authors will disown in the future;
- Stuff which is there purely so that the author can include a lengthy 'About Me' page;
- Stuff which is in the public domain.

For example, here is a randomly-selected extract of a '1stBook', taken from H. L. Quist's 'Secrets: A Novel of Golf and Politics'. H. L. Quist has 'played golf in 15 different countries' and is better-known by the nickname 'Buster' (if you're reading this, Mr Quist, don't worry - it's nothing personal):

"It took over an hour or so for the tournament committee to figure out the results of the Calcutta. It was a big day for 'Team Morris.' Robbie won a trophy and a $300 gift certificate. Harvey won 70 percent of the $120,000 pot. $84,000!
Robbie and I were sitting near the putting green in the cool shade as a typical beautiful red New Mexico sunset signaled that the day was about to end. Harvey walked out of the clubhouse carrying a large brown paper bag. In it was the $84,000.
'Let's go home team,' Harvey said, as he motioned to Robbie to go get the car. After Robbie left, Harvey opened the bag.
'Ya earned yerself fifteen grand, Darden. Help yerself. Now ya knows what A'h do for a livin'. Where could ya make fifteen grand that easy, huh? Ain't Farmington a great place? Where in the world can ya get drunk, get laid, make tons of money at golf and get shot at all in one place? Man, A'h love it!'
I pocketed my share and watched Harvey head for the parking lot. 'Team Morris.' What a team. One player was a good a guy as you would ever meet. He knew the rules, played by them and won. The other, I suspected, was a bad guy who made his own rules and won any way he could. What a father - son contrast.
Events were soon to unfold that would dramatically demonstrate Harvey's 'dark side' of the mountain."

To read the rest of this book (which is "about the universal themes of man's quest for the secret to success, the search for truth, and the battle of good versus evil"), please send $4.95 to 1stBooks Library for an electronic edition, or $9.95 for a paperback.

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