Dog Team to Dawson: A Quest for the Cosmic Bannock – is now available!

January 29th, 2014

What do I think? Hey, I wrote this book! It is great!

The stories were written in the mid- to late 1970s. Two were published in magazines and books, but the other two (including the main story, A Quest for the Cosmic Bannock) have never been released. It was a marvellous process to go back through those adventure stories and polish these jewels – developing the character arcs and clarifying the themes and action. Now they really shine and I am very proud of them.

cover for Dog Team to Dawson

Marsha’s cover and interior design are gorgeous. What a star she is.

The book is available as of today at and
Here is a link for buying through Createspace’s ebook store:

If you want a PDF copy to review, contact me at

Could Your Book be an App? Here’s How – eBook gift April 9-13

April 11th, 2013

“What is a Book App and Could YOU Create One?” eBook at no charge April 9-13

For just a few short days, a new eBook that can help make your publishing dreams come true, is FREE!

“What is a Book App and Could YOU Create One? How 27 Writers Did!” is the eBook any children’s
writer who is considering digital publishing for their book should read! In this book, children’s book
app author, speaker and coach, Karen Robertson, explains what a book app is, why it’s such an exciting publishing option, what you need to know about this opportunity, and how it’s done, so you can decide if it’s right for you to publish your children’s book as an app.

Read the personal stories of 27 other writers who’ve turned their books into book apps to see
how many ways there are to achieve this publishing dream and deliver your book to a worldwide
audience. From these writers’ stories, you’ll see that there are a lot of ways to make a book app happen
in a way that will meet your objectives and budget, even if you aren’t technically inclined.

This eBook is available exclusively on Kindle and is FREE April 9-13

You don’t have to have a Kindle reader to read it! There is a free Kindle app that lets you read books
from the Amazon Kindle store on your Apple or Android devices. It’s super easy and the app is free.

Learn more about it here:
How to use the Kindle app on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch:

How to use the Kindle app on Android:

authors getting paid in an era of digital piracy

May 14th, 2012
Here’s a great article about where the discussion and newest legislation about copyright / digital piracy / collective rights management organizations / author renumeration is going in other countries:
I note that this trend points to collective rights management organizations [CMOs] for authors — in a similar form to the existing CMOs for musicians — that are independent from the publishing houses. So “indie” (self-publishing) authors would be on the level ground as trade-publisher authors. This is yet another loss of advantage for the publishing houses! The best part of the proposed Google Books settlement, in my opinion, was the set up and funding of a single independent rights agency for all authors…
thanks, cheers,

Moss Rock Review – May 2012

May 11th, 2012

Tell it to the world – and do it your way

In today’s rapidly-changing marketplace, the idea of an “author” (of books) is rapidly evolving into a broader concept of being a “storyteller.” A creator no longer needs to be limited by conventional practices, nor does he or she need the approval and financing of industry gatekeepers. If you have a story burning inside you – something that you simply yearn to tell, whether it is fictional or how-to, philosophical or entertaining, entrepreneurial or philanthropic – get ready to step up.

Traditionally, a story had to fit into rigid categories. It was either to be a magazine article or printed book, a radio or TV broadcast, or maybe a film. It could become more than one (a book made into a movie) but there were few examples of anything in between these categories. Books never had videos, radio didn’t show pictures. Everything had an expected length. Even if the creator’s purpose and message didn’t fit well, the content was shoehorned into a category.

To have your work considered meant appealing to corporate gatekeepers judging the economic viability of each potential venture. Production and distribution costs were high, so creative merit seldom trumped the financial imperative to make a profit. Over 99% of proposals were rejected.

Delightfully for creators (though terrifying for the publishing houses and networks), the situation is turning on its head. With the advent of “apps”, product categories are now being defined by each project. A story that would benefit from interaction, video, narration, music, location tracking, frequent updates, etc. can have these features and more in an iPad book app. Production costs have dropped drastically in this digital era, while new distribution channels are open to independent producers, making those traditional gatekeepers less relevant. Add the new phenomenon of crowd-funding, and we’re starting to witness an explosive release of pent-up creativity.

To illustrate the scale of these shift, Apple reports that over 25 billion apps have been sold (“downloaded”) for its iPhones and iPads, and stories make up many billions of those. Apple just sold another 11 million iPads last quarter. At this rate, within 2 years, 1 in 3 Americans will own one, reaching a tipping point beyond which few printed-on-paper book projects will be economically viable for conventional publishers. Self-publishing to the iBookstore and appstore is welcomed by Apple (and at Google and Amazon’s app stores), creating a vast, level playing field with nearly free distribution. Apple takes a 30% cut of the retail price, which is impressively small compared to 55% taken by distributors and retailers for printed books, plus ebooks and apps have no printing or shipping costs.

Storytellers are seizing the opportunities: fully 1/4 of fiction e-books sold in the UK are from self-published writers bypassing the conventional publishing houses (source: The percentage is likely higher in North America.

Meanwhile costs have tumbled so a previous budget of $40,000+ to publish a printed book has dropped to $5k for a top-notch print-on-demand edition. (Free options exist for the tech-savvy.) An ebook edition costs nil to $500. Develop an iPad app, all singing and dancing, for $20k to $30k. If you can’t personally finance the venture, “crowd-funding” is allowing storytellers to raise money from friends, fans, even complete strangers. At, over $100 million is being raised per year for creative projects, most with budgets of $5k to $15k, though author/cartoonist Rich Burlew raised $1.2 million from 14,952 backers for his book/ebook publishing project! is another effective crowd-funding site.

Storytellers: costs are down and financing alternatives exist. Almost anything is possible in terms of formats and presentations. (Musicians will be selling apps of their performances, redefining the “live album,” and indie video entertainment will also distribute through these simple, open channels.) Is it time to dust off, even embellish, your dreams of presenting your message to the world?

Sadly, one local (Victoria, BC) society is stubbornly refusing to evolve with the times, and are blatantly discriminating against hundreds of local independent writers. To add insult to injury, this group is merrily using our municipal tax dollars to do this. The Victoria Book Prize Society exists expressly to administer awards for “literary merit” to writers living in the CRD. Yet the directors refuse to allow any self-published book to be entered. To tell the City how you feel about this, email and

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COOL TO BE CLEVER iPad app will be free until end of March

March 23rd, 2012

Please share the news that we have just made our iPad app COOL TO BE CLEVER free until end of March. We hope thousands will download it and be inspired by the story of bullying and the invention of the Internet.
thx, Bruce

Moss Rock Review – January 2012

February 19th, 2012

Where is Storytelling headed?

With the sale of perhaps 12 million tablets during December alone (guestimating 3 million Amazon Kindle Fire, 6 million Apple iPad, and 3 million combined for Nook Tablet, Kobo Vox and other Android tablets), the purchasing power of owners of these devices is throwing the book industry into a tizzy. People who own tablets are showing an overwhelming preference for buying and reading ebooks and apps, rather than buying printed “dead tree” editions. Sales of ebooks are now surpassing those for either of hardcover and paperback editions, and in some genres ebooks are outselling both paper editions combined. Purchasing is steadily shifting from neighbourhood stores to online outlets, such as Apple’s iBookstore and Amazon’s Kindle store. Publishers, editors, illustrators, designers, agents and authors are scrambling to adapt.

The ebook market is already splitting into two streams: basic ebooks and apps. Basic ebooks are typically created in ePub format (not unlike .html or .rtf or .txt formats), and are essentially a stream of text that can be read on a smart phone, iPod or first-generation eReader, such as the Kindle. By comparison, apps for iPhone and tablets can be all-singing, all-dancing elaborate productions, with narration, animation, videos, interaction and a mini-library of background material. As the tablet-owning audience grows, the pressure is increasing on publishers to create these expensive and technically complex app editions.

Our Agio Publishing House had the wonderful opportunity to create Canada’s first enhanced (also called amplified) ebook app for iPad, which was released in December. It is called “Cool to be Clever: the story of Edson C. Hendricks, the genius who invented the design for the Internet.” That experience drove home to me many differences between producing an iPad app and our usual work in producing printed editions.

CONTENT: for a printed book, an editor is generally culling out extraneous material and honing the words to tightly guide the reader through a linear reading experience. For an app, background material and related features are not only possible, they are expected, so the editor/producer/director is curating a multi-media, multi-path experience.

DESIGN and FORMAT: the design of the printed book is an art form refined over centuries. Generally there were only two editions, hardcover and paperback, which are substantially similar to produce. However, to create an app, new (to most publishing houses) concepts and skills are in play: digital video and audio, animation, games, interaction, social media linkages… Plus there can be multiple versions to suit all the sizes of screens and orientations for iPhone through to iPad, and systems from Apple’s iOS to various flavours of Android OS.

AUTHOR’S ROLE: traditionally the author’s skill was to stir the reader’s imagination through choice of words in a line-by-line, page-by-page sequence. An enhanced ebook app still requires the foundation of a strong narrative story, but also needs scriptwriting and illustration and direction/choreography of all the diverse elements. The “reader” is encouraged to be actively involved. In many ways, app-creation goes even beyond producing a stage play or film.

DOING IT YOURSELF: over the past two decades, with the introduction of personal computers, word processors, low-cost graphics programs, print on demand (POD) and internet distribution, indie authors and small publishing houses have been increasingly equipped to participate in the book and basic ebook marketplace. Low-cost and simple-to-use tools for self-publishing an enhanced app are just beginning to appear (Apple’s iBooks Author is a prime example), but a creator does need to master (or gather collaborators for) the many disciplines required, such as filming and producing videos, recording and editing audio, directing, etc.

LONGEVITY: printed books that are centuries old can still be easily read. Books printed today will still be usable for centuries to come. Sadly, today’s ebooks and apps, because of the steady changes in computer formats, will likely not be functional even 5 years from now (like those 8-track music cassettes in your attic).

REVENUES and ROYALTIES: publishers of printed books are lucky to net 30% of the retail price after paying for printing, and pass on about one-fifth of that to the author. By contrast, for ebook and app sales, the publisher gets a whooping 70% of the retail price. Literary agents are working to see authors receive about half of that.

In case anyone has doubts about the “masses” affording tablets, the retail price of some of these devices has already dropped below $200 and prices could drop significantly during 2012. As the prices tumble, more people will buy them (in many cases abandoning their PCs), and the pressure on publishers will increase to have multiple editions of books/ebooks/apps to serve this demanding marketplace.

In India, their government is distributing to poor school children millions of tablets, each costing only $35 (yes, thirty-five dollars!) to produce. By providing free online access to a full kindergarten-to-grade-12 curriculum of school courses, India is hoping a whole generation of children from the slums can essentially home-school/ distance-educate themselves into higher education.

A decade from now India’s investment in its children’s education will create a huge market for Victoria authors’ creativity. So keep on writing! And let your imagination run wild about what the final product(s) could look like and encompass.

(c) copyright 2012, Bruce Batchelor

New kids app reveals who invented the Internet: COOL story tackles bullying and being “different”

December 1st, 2011

COOL to be CLEVER app for iPad is available today!

For immediate release
contact: Producer Bruce Batchelor,, 250-380-0998

(Victoria, BC, and San Diego, CA)
Is your child intentionally getting lower grades to avoid being ridiculed as a ‘nerd’ or a ‘geek’? A just-released iPad app provides an inspiring message: “It’s COOL to be CLEVER” — based on the true story of Edson C. Hendricks, the genius who invented the design for the Internet.

When Hendricks was bullied at school as a youngster, he retreated into an imaginary world where he had machine parts, rather than biological organs and emotions. Years later, as a computer scientist working in IBM’s Cambridge Scientific Center in the early 1970s, Hendricks’ unique ability to “think like a machine” led him to invent VNET, the world’s first “connectionless” communications network.

VNET quickly spread to link IBM’s facilities around the world, then spawned other networks using Hendricks’ software, including EARN in Europe, NETNORTH in Canada, BITNET and USENET/UUNET in the USA. In the early 1980s, this connectionless design became the basis of the new inter-networking (“internet” for short) standards.

Developed by Agio Studios (part of Agio Publishing House of Victoria), COOL to be CLEVER is available as of December 1st on Apple’s App Store. The script was written by children’s book author and former teacher Leanne Jones. Now a private investigator, Jones uncovered Hendricks’ role as Internet inventor while interviewing retired US intelligence officers for a novel she’s writing. Hendricks now lives in San Diego, California.

“I wrote the COOL story to inspire and encourage others who may feel they are ‘different’ and may be bullied or stigmatized,” said Jones. “They may have important ideas that will change society like the Internet has.”

The app includes up-to-date bullying prevention tips and research provided by the Canadian Red Cross, The Council for Exceptional Children and the US Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports.

“For the app, we videotaped twelve interviews with Mr. Hendricks, on how his mind works, true inventions, overcoming bullying, predicting the future, tips for programmers and other topics,” said app producer and director Bruce Batchelor. “His voice was so rich that we then asked him to narrate the story — which he did superbly.”

Internet history junkies will find a treasure trove of ‘backstory’ material in the app: information on the first ever email virus, the 1979 IBM Systems Journal article by Hendricks and Tim Hartmann chronicling the technical development of VNET into a world-wide network years before the Internet was launched, dozens of anecdotes about creating VNET and meetings with Vint Cerf and other scientists, trip reports, internal memos and documents detailing IBM’s bungled opportunity, and a 160k log of pre-Internet emails between scientists debating standards.

The original music score was composed and performed on piano by Leanne Jones. Anna Mah provided the illustrations.

An APP LAUNCH EVENT, with Edson Hendricks as featured guest, will be held on MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2011 at SIMPLY COMPUTING, 2639 Quadra Street, Victoria, from 7 PM to 9 PM. Brief presentations will be made by Edson Hendricks, Leanne Jones, producer/director Bruce Batchelor, Jim Roepcke of Roepcke Computing Solutions (developer of the COOL to be CLEVER app for iPad), Adam Blainey of Pterotype Digital (producer of THE UNINVITED horror anthology magazine for iPad) and others. The public is welcome, especially cool, clever kids (and adults) of all ages.

Copies of the illustrated hardcover edition of IT’S COOL TO BE CLEVER will be available for purchase at the event. The COOL to be CLEVER app can be purchased directly from the Apple iPad App Store.

Yippee! We just uploaded to Apple’s Appstore the “binary” for Agio Studios’ first iPad App, It’s Cool to be Clever

November 23rd, 2011

Announcing Agio Studios’ first iPad App, It’s Cool to be Clever

Developed by Agio Studios at Agio Publishing House

Welcome to Agio Studios at Agio Publishing House. Please explore our website and contact us with your questions and ideas, and to report any technical challenges with the iPad app. We’d love to have your comments on app issues, general
feedback, or feature enhancement requests.

A blog (with lots of new material not included in the Cool to be Clever app) and excerpts from the app may be found at this promotional website:

If you have a story that needs to be told, and the motivation to make it happen, you are invited to review our publishing program:

Here’s the description of the COOL TO BE CLEVER iPad app

It’s Cool to be Clever: the story of Edson C. Hendricks, the genius who invented the design for the Internet

Have you ever wonder how the Internet was really invented? IT’S COOL TO BE CLEVER tells the true story of an inquisitive schoolboy in the 1950s who is bullied because he is so smart. He finds comfort in an imaginary world where he has machine parts, and no biological organs or emotions. Years later, Edson’s strange capacity to “think like a machine” helps him create a way for computers to communicate. His “connectionless” network design is used in today’s Internet.

Includes intriguing illustrations, story by Leanne Jones with narration by Edson Hendricks, and an original musical score. Read the latest info on preventing bullying at school. Loads of pre-Internet emails, anecdotes and other computer science archival material, 12 video interviews with Edson Hendricks and 3 audio interviews of author/composer Leanne Jones, exploration of the “genius” and “inventive” mind, predicting the future, first email virus, advice to programmers, the origin of tektites, and so much more.

Ideal for all ages, especially clever children 6+ and anyone with an interest in Internet history and inventing. How was the Internet really invented? The inspiring true story is revealed for the first time in a most entertaining fashion with a bonus treasure trove of backstory research.


  • bright child-appealing illustrations that “float” delightfully into position with each finger swipe
  • a true inspiring story written by a former primary school teacher, suitable for “chapter-book” reading level
  • complete story narration by Edson Hendricks (with option for the app to turn the pages)
  • the latest information about preventing schoolyard bullying from the Red Cross, The Council for Exceptional Children and the Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
  • “teaching children of genius” advice from Leanne Jones
  • Edson Hendricks’ memories of being bullied as a child and by IBM managers
  • “How my mind works” and “people who are different” interviews with a genius
  • Hendricks’ unorthodox insights into the origin of Earth’s water and tektites
  • original musical score – 6 songs composed and performed on piano by Leanne Jones
  • Hendricks interviewed: “genuine inventions”, “predicting the future”, “necessary situation for invention”, “creating a network”, “debugging”, “naming VNET”, “the first email virus”, “advice to programmers”
  • “Evolution of a Virtual Machine Subsystem”, the 1979 IBM Systems Journal article by Hendricks and Hartmann chronicling the technical development of VNET into a world-wide network years before the Internet was launched
  • dozens of anecdotes about creating VNET and meetings with Vint Cerf and other scientists
  • trip reports, internal memos and documents detailing IBM’s bungled opportunity
  • 160k log of pre-Internet emails between scientists debating standards.

The expect availability date is November 30, 2011.

Thanks to Leanne Jones for writing the story and the musical score; to her son Ian Jones for recording and producing the songs, narration and audio interviews; Anna Mah and Athea Boyes for illustrations; Marsha Batchelor for co-directing and graphic designing; Edson Hendricks for his narration and being available for interviews and information requests; Jim Roepcke for developing the app; Dan Batchelor of for video interviews and photo portraits of Mr. Hendricks; and Jose Albis for social media promotions.

– thanks, cheers,

Bruce Batchelor, app producer, director and editor

Moss Rock Review – October 2011

October 22nd, 2011

Spinning yarns around a high-tech campfire

By just about any measure, the book publishing industry is undergoing change so blisteringly fast and fundamental in nature, that the whole concept of storytelling in printed book form may become an anachronism within a few years. Maybe we should rename this Book Scene column to be Storytelling Scene instead to seize a longer-term view!

Although I wasn’t there, apparently the first human beings (homo sapiens) appeared on the scene about 500,000 years ago. For all but the most recent 200 years, storytelling was done orally, in-person, by elders or minstrels. Only with the great culture upheavals of the Industrial Revolution did the general population get an opportunity to learn to read and buy printed books. If 500,000 years is represented by the span of your two arms stretched out fully, the time we’ve been a book-reading species is less than the thickness of your thumb. According to evolution theory, we humans aren’t yet genetically evolved for reading books (and therefore will be prone to abandoning them for anything more similar to sharing stories around a campfire). Darwin figured that it takes a finch on the Galapagos Islands 500 generations to make a significant genetic adaptation. For humans, at 20 years per generation, that would be 10,000 years. So we need about 9,800 more years for our DNA to react to an environment of sitting on our butts staring at squiggly symbols on sheets of paper bound into a codex.

So, if we aren’t (yet) suited to books, what are we genetically coded to do? Let’s review what storytelling was like 10,000 years ago, and then consider if the next media fits better than our current fixation with books. Presumably an ancient hairy human could talk and gesture, use props to demonstrate, sing and dance, maybe act out skits. I presume the audience gave feedback through nods, grunts and other actions, encouraging the storyteller to expand, elaborate, create or repeat information.

By contrast, books don’t have the voice, gestures, songs, dancing, or props — they are totally linear and have no potential for reader interaction. They are great, and I love them, but they sure don’t score well in this Darwinian challenge. (TV would rank higher: people grouped around a flickering light to be entertained/ educated/ indoctrinated seems quite campfire-tribal.)

Are the new media more in tune with our DNA? The world wide web’s great claim to fame is its non-linear nature. Apps on an iPad have video and audio files, and even respond to finger gestures, blowing, tilting, shaking; they even know where you are located on this Earth, even if you don’t. Seems they are more “natural” in many ways.

Lately, along with our work to publish some great new printed books, I’ve been working with a very talented team building an iPad app (based on the book It’s Cool To Be Clever and scheduled for a pre-Christmas release). I’m reminded that automobiles were first labelled “horseless carriages”, presumably to make them more understandable and acceptable. After many years people simply called them “cars” and stopped needing comparisons to the old technology. Similarly, stories on the iPad initially were called “eBooks” and are sold at the “iBookstore”. On screen, the words were displayed as if on a book’s page. When you pressed an edge, the page “turned”, complete with an animation of a curling sheet of paper. Only 18 months after the iPad was introduced, the latest apps are already playing down the book metaphor. Blocks or text are no longer confined to “pages”; instead they float by in response to finger swiping. Animations and video are becoming commonplace. Each story-app comes with a mini-library of background materials, allowing the user to follow a thread into the author’s past and research the story’s topics more deeply.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Public Library is organizing a “human library” in which library patrons can “book” (pun intended) a half-hour, one-on-one conversation with a person who has expertise or compelling life experiences to share. Apparently this concept began in Copenhagen in 2000, and has been adopted/adapted in more than 30 countries. Seems a bit like coming full circle, eh?

(c) copyright 2011, Bruce Batchelor

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Moss Rock Review – August 2011

October 22nd, 2011

Making a fortune from an out-of-copyright poem – APPsolutely incredible!

It is early June 2011 and the top grossing app for the Apple iPad tablet is… a poem first published in 1922? This is a joke, right?

Not a joke. For a few glorious days, the enhanced ebook of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land did edge out the Angry Birds video game for top spot overall. By the end of the summer, it was staying top in the book app category, just ahead of the Marvel Comics app. Something brilliant is going on here for publisher Faber & Faber to be bringing in so much attention — and money — for a poem so old that it is now in the public domain.

Taking full advantage of the iPad’s capabilities, The Waste Land app has not only the full text of the poem, but a new BBC-produced performance of the entire poem by Fiona Shaw, audio recordings by Alec Guiness, Ted Hughes, Victor Mortenson and Eliot himself, over three dozen expert video commentaries, and scans of the manuscript showing Ezra Pound’s extensive edits. All for $13.99. The reader switches seamlessly between video to audio to text-only; while Fiona or Alec performs, the text is always shown in sync. The app is like an interactive TV show cum encyclopedia or thesis, celebrating this iconic poem.

With this and other fantastic new enhanced ebooks (more examples later), I believe we are seeing the vanguard of the next era in publishing, with changes even wilder than the tumultuous upheavals of the past few years.

Henry Volans, head of Faber Digital, in an interview with The Guardian, said: “I used to be an editor here. Now the role is much more like that of a producer… you’re making something happen with a variety of skills, from software engineers and designers, and indeed a television director on one hand, to Eliot scholars, poetry academics and actors on the other… There’s this sense that book publishers will have a lot of competition from other industries [film, television] as well, so we have to learn these skills. I believe that the books business and writers and publishers could and should use technology to their best advantage because other people will if we won’t.”
(Full article at

Meanwhile, Our Choice, which is Al Gore’s sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, is an interactive iPad ebook/ magazine/ presentation app so cleverly presented that it won the 2011 Apple Design Award. It costs $4.99. Push Pop Press, the design/software agency which created the multi-touch app interface for Our Choice, was just acquired by Facebook. Facebook apparently doesn’t plan to enter the ebook publishing game itself, and bought Push Pop for its designers and software engineers so Facebook might add storytelling/app capabilities for its 750 million users. Wow, that could be a lot of competition!

No doubt looking to generate new income while providing more access to its collections, the British Library just launched an iPad app which provides access to full scans of all its 19th century books for 1.99 GB pounds per month.

Produced by 1K Studio for Penguin is the “amplified edition” of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 beat generation novel, On The Road. There is the complete text, of course, plus an interactive map of the route taken, archival photographs, reproduction of the original 120-foot-long manuscript scroll, letters, video interviews with Kerouac’s contemporaries, documentary footage, even tributes by Bob Dylan, John Updike and others. The Guardian‘s reviewer James Campbell warns that all this “amplification” bogs down the reader with facts, footnotes and technical distraction. He recommends reading from a printed book so your imagination can soar.

Nonetheless, Cinram, a $2 billion Toronto-based company that is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of music and movie CDs and DVDs (who knew?), was impressed enough with the potential of On The Road that it bought 1K Studio, presumably so Cinram can get a jumpstart into the next big thing (diversifying away from what must surely be a declining business).

It seems that everybody wants to be an app producer/publisher in the iPad era.

(c) copyright 2011, Bruce Batchelor

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