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Dear Reader,

In times like these, a writer must resort to unprecedented measures. He must do things which have never been done before. And those are precisely the things which I am going to do, as future historians will surely record with shock and amazement.

Let me begin by saying that, although I have already permitted two of my books to be published, I am categorically opposed to publication. It is a shameless act at any time, but in this day and age, when the market is flooded by an ever increasing quantity of absolute garbage, it is particularly shameless and bordering on unjustifiable. How can one support and participate in a business responsible for doing so much harm to the human soul and to human intelligence? I am determined to remove myself as far as possible from the book business because, for me, books and business have nothing to do with each other. The book business is and always has been run by vultures. The main achievement of these vultures is and always has been to allow writers of real merit to starve during their lifetime, and then to find ways to profit off of the products of their genius after their death. What a catastrophe for morality! Will crimes like these go unpunished in a future life? I think not. Now, without denying that I am culpable of publication, I would like to say, in my defense, that unlike some writers, whom I will not here name, I have kept the number of my publications down to a bare minimum. Two books in the past sixteen years: an exemplary output.

In accordance with what I have said above, I am now considering publishing my third book, In Paradise, in a special limited edition which will be obtainable only directly from me. I promise you that I will do everything in my power to prevent In Paradise from appearing in stores. I feel that my first two books, The Effort to Fall and The Comedy of Agony, are too widely available. At present they can be purchased anywhere by anyone. So what is to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands? I know that most writers want to have more readers, not fewer, but I prefer to have fewer. As few as possible, in fact. And of this you will soon have the ocular proof when I follow through on the publication method here proposed, the chief effect of which will be to make my newly published book indistinguishable from a rare and out of print one.

Do I have other reasons for adopting this publication method aside from those previously stated? In fact I do. As you know, the theme of my third book is Paradise, and the number of those who deserve to enter Paradise is small indeed. If Paradise were easy to find and no less easy to enter, it would not be Paradise but something else. To keep Paradise purely what it is, it is imperative to limit the number of admissions. Thus, it will be impossible for you to obtain this book anywhere but from its author.

After it has been completed and published, In Paradise will be available by donation (plus S&H), with a suggested donation of $100. A suggested donation of $100, someone is sure to object, puts the price of this book well above most others on the market today. That is, of course, true, but keep in mind, this book is not on the market—and, if I can help it, never will be. Furthermore, the actual value of the book so far surpasses $100 that if you decide to donate that much you will be getting a bargain. Those short on funds can donate however much they can afford. And of course you are completely free to donate $1, if you wish. You will still get your book—along with the karmic retribution which comes from excessive avarice.

Anyone who thinks that I propose this sum out of greed is gravely mistaken. Pricing a slim book made up of minute passages at $100 is commercial suicide. My only desire is to reduce the number of my readers. I do not need your money. The question is: do you need my book? As I see it, there is no reason to read a book which you would not be willing to cross a mountain to obtain. What’s more, your willingness to cross a mountain to obtain a book is the best sign you would be able to understand it. Rilke once said that only one who loves a book is able to understand it. He should have said: only one who is willing to cross a mountain. The only man who could have conquered Rome, if the jealousy of his own people had not prevented him from doing so, was Hannibal; and Hannibal was also the only man willing to cross the Alps to get there, bringing with him nearly forty elephants to boot. Give me none but readers with the indomitable spirit of this half-mad Carthaginian general! If crossing a mountain under conditions of extreme hardship is too much for you, there are still plenty of books available for you to read. Mine you may happily ignore without regret.

C.S.