Charlie's Diary

[ Site Index] [ Feedback ]

Tue, 28 Feb 2006

Ebook news

Sorry 'bout the lack of updates: I've been knee-deep in work, then took off for five days of meetings and stuff, only to succumb to a nasty cold when I got home — the kind that leaves you feeling like a dishrag for a week afterwards. Normal service will be resumed, etcetera ...

One of the questions I periodically get asked is "can I get an electronic version of [insert book title here]?" The answer has, all too often, been "no". With the exception of the free version of Accelerando, and a crippleware version of "Singularity Sky" (from Ace, by way of Fictionwise — DRM-locked to a single reader). However, the situation is now changing. Ace have added a DRM-locked release of "The Atrocity Archives", if you really need it ... but the big news is what Tor have been doing.

For about eight years now, just one SF/F publisher in the English-speaking world had been doing the right thing with ebooks: Baen Books. Baen more or less have a corner on the military-SF market, and are a relatively small player in the US market, with maybe 50 titles a year (to Tor's 300 and Ace's 250). However, they're small enough to be agile and innovative, and since 1997 or thereabouts they've been running an effective subsidiary,, which was doing the job properly.

You sign up with Webscriptions to get an account, then order books from their web site. You pay by credit card, and then you can download the books you've paid for as many times as you need to. The books come in a range of file formats, including HTML, RTF, and the popular ebook reader formats ... and they're not locked to one specific machine; you can use them anywhere. (Rule #1: the customer is not a PDA, they may change computers. Rule #2: trust your customers, don't treat them like shoplifters.)

There are other aspects of the Webscription service model that are attractive. You can buy books individually, typically for less than the price of a paperback (guess what? The ebook editions of my Ace novels sell for as much as a hardcover or trade paperback, despite being much less useful to readers), or you can buy an entire months' worth of books for a flat rate of roughly $15. From the writers point of view, the royalty rate ain't bad — they pay twice the percentage of a hardcover, reflecting the lower cost of production and distribution. So they're cheaper for readers but pay the authors enough to live on. (Rule #3: don't rip your customers off. Rule #4: don't rip your suppliers off, either.)

I'm pleased to say that Webscriptions have been doing good business, and, despite the marked lack of success of the rest of the ebook biz, they're expanding. I'm even more pleased to note that my largest publisher, Tor, have noticed that Webscriptions are making money where other folks aren't, and have decided to join in. From March onwards, a number of Tor titles will be sold through Webscriptions, including my own Merchant Princes books (starting with "The Family Trade" and "The Hidden Family" immediately, and to be followed by "The Clan Corporate" in parallel with its dead-tree publication).

All I need is for Ace to issue an ebook edition of "Iron Sunrise" — preferably via Webscription, but I'll take whatever I can get — and I'll be happy!

[Link] [Discuss Writing (2)]

posted at: 19:47 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

Quick links:

RSS Feed (Moved!)

Who am I?

Contact me

Buy my books: (FAQ)

Missile Gap
Via Subterranean Press (US HC -- due Jan, 2007)

The Jennifer Morgue
Via Golden Gryphon (US HC -- due Nov, 2006)

Via (US HC -- due June 30, 2006)

The Clan Corporate
Via (US HC -- out now)

Via (US HC)
Via (US PB -- due June 27, 2006)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)
Free download

The Hidden Family
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)

The Family Trade
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)

Iron Sunrise
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)

The Atrocity Archives
Via (Trade PB)
Via (Trade PB)
Via Golden Gryphon (HC)
Via (HC)
Via (HC)

Singularity Sky
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)
Via (US ebook)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)


Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

[ Site Index] [ Feedback ]

Powered by Blosxom!