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A message from our UK sponsors (again)

Traders' War cover

Just a reminder: The Traders War is showing up in shops now, and although think it's due out on the 9th, you can find it on some bookstore shelves right now.

(Small print: this is an omnibus edition — with extensive revisions — of "The Clan Corporate" and "The Merchants War", reassembled as the single book it was originally meant to be; in this case, the middle of a trilogy. It's published in the UK and Commonwealth territories. You can't buy the ebook in North America, but if you really want to, you can order the dead tree edition from if you're willing to pay the shipping fee. It will not be published in the USA in 2013, but will probably show up in 2014 or 2015.)



I think the Brit publishers need to get over this "windowed releases" crud. I know from a very reliable source that "Bloodline Feud" is already available on the back-channels, so all the delay does is cost them (and you) sales, unless the person who gets it that way early pays up after the window (at looong last) opens.

BTW, where do I report things like the following:

‘’Yo, Emily,’ she nodded, passing the departmental secretary.

Unless the 'Yo is something for "hello" like the american 'em is for "them," the above has unbalanced quotemarks.



It's not a windowed release!

What happened was this:

  • Tor US bought world rights. Then failed to sell UK territorial rights to Macmillan (aka Tor UK).

  • I eventually managed to convince Tor UK's editor to buy the rights and publish in the UK. But the delay terminally desynchronized UK publication of the books from the US dates. Then he retired, and his successor was head-hunted, resulting in an orphaned series circa 2008.

  • Fast-forward to 2011: my editor at Orbit emails me to say she's leaving for Tor. "I guess I won't be editing you again," she said. My reply: "don't be so fast ..."

  • Spring 2012: I give her a run-down of the history of the series and suggest re-assembling the books in their original intended form -- big fat thriller type novels, three rather than six. She enthusiastically agrees, but for commercial reasons decides to run them at one month intervals, at about 12 months' notice! (That's a metric fuckton of editing work, right there -- two thirds of a million words to plough through and fix in three months.)

  • September 2012: Tor US get to see the results and are enthusiastic. We agree that I'll do more Merchant Princes books. But Tor US's publication schedule for 2013 is already complete because it takes about a year's lead time to prepare a book.

TL:DR; this was a sort of skunk-works program by Tor UK; Tor US didn't get enough warning to publish simultaneously.

(Textual errata: well, if Tor US re-flow the typeset files, we can fix that then. Otherwise, not so much.)


So for the nights of May 20-May 22, 2013, I will be residing at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, 45 Prescot Street, London E1 8GP, Hanoverian Regime-Controlled Territory.

May I purchase the ebook during that three-day window?


Brad DeLong


Preordered on google books, it'll be available on the 9th. Rude of them to reccomend the older editions, though I guess it's too much to ask of the googleplex to know they're trying to sell me the same books with different covers.

I wonder if marking them off the list will make google think I don't like or if it can infer there are different reasons to uncheck "Fifty shades of Gray" and "book you like but already read"


Happened to be looking on B&N's site earlier, and saw that the mass-market of "The Apocalypse Codex" was listed for pre-order, available at the end of June.

So no typo hunt? If not, then bummer; I have a few, along with some (too many) comments on various bits.


May I purchase the ebook during that three-day window?

Sure -- if you can convince Amazon or Nook that you've emigrated to the UK. They're a bit shit-headed about that sort of thing.

More practical suggestion? Register a throw-away Gmail account. Then when you're in the UK buy an gift voucher from a convenience store. At your leisure, set up a new account on, using the throw-away Gmail address, a random physical address in the UK, and the gift voucher as a funding source. Then you can buy ebooks from the UK. As the UK editions of the Merchant Princes are from Tor and DRM-free, you can then download them to the desktop and import them into Calibre or whatever ebook library manager you use.

(Alternatively, poke your friendly author via email.)


"The Apocalypse Codex" is going mass market paperback in the USA on July 1st or thereabouts, yes. I was w-a-y too busy to conduct the usual typo hunt; especially as the UK paperback edition isn't going to change -- they've given up on A-format, especially as over here the mass market curled up and died in the early 1990s.


That's understandable.

Only had a couple of actual typos, anyhow. The rest were mostly differences of British/American usage. Not actual mistakes--assuming that the entire book is as told by Bob. Along with me going on with too much Colorado trivia.


Oddly enough, none of these are showing up in the Tor uk (aka Pan McMillan) ebook store. Which is a shame as I've just started to try and buy from sources other than amazon.

(I bought a couple of books from the Penguin ebook store yesterday, which meant having to install and use Adobe digital Editions, basically their version of Kindle4PC, and that was a right pain in the proverbial. For future reference, you can 'authorize' your computer without needing an AdobeID. Then just download the .acsm file, import it into ADE, which will download a epub that you can import into Calibre with the unDRM plugin. None of this seems to be documented anywhere else on the internets.)


Pan McMillan's webstore demanded I use "Verified by Visa" to buy Jeff Noon's latest, at which point I told it to fuck off. If I've gone to the hassle of doing an actual handing-in-cash bank deposit to avoid using Verified by Visa to pay for a flight, you can be damned sure I'll buy from the monopolist rather than give up my liability protection. Sorry, I'm a touch ranty on that one...


I'll think I'll treat myself to these for my birthday. Barb won't like it, since they'll be available for free in the library and with the kid in college things are a little tight. But hell . . . it's my birthday, right :-) Seriously, out of all OGH's oeuvre, these are my favorite.


What I have seen, Visa and Mastercard in Europe are distinct from the US companies of the same name, which is maybe because of bank regulation systems. Likewise Paypal.

And in Europe, there seems to be a bit more security in the system, whether it's Chip and PIN, or "Verified by Visa". Systems in the USA, such as the company I pay for my on-line gaming, seem a little behind on the security curve.

(Essentially, the shop-site passes you on to the "Verified by Visa" site, which does a challenge/password routine, if you're a new customer. Not that it's quite that simple.)

I think it's Mastercard in the USA which has started charging a higher fee for payments to Paypal, because they can't tell what you are buying.

I don't know for sure why my Bank sent me the reminder about telling my when I am travelling abroad, but it was a couple of weeks after i bought something from a US website.

Is the USA starting to look bad for card fraud?


Person history note - My father was a retail bank manager.

Mastercard (formerly Access) and Visa in Europe are effectively subsidiaries of all the retail banks who issue credit and debit cards using those global networks.


Franchises, rather. Each retail bank issues its own Visa and Mastercard cards and has its credit subsidiary, acting as a franchisee of the Visa or MC brand. ATMs ... it used to be that each bank had its own network, in the UK, but they introduced interoperability standards, congealed into two ATM networks, and finally those networks began to interoperate about ten years ago so that you can in principle use any card in any machine. Chip and Pin: introduced in the UK in a blinding hurry in 2003 after it was discovered that the staff in one of the retail banks' card services organization had gone rogue and were "phantom transaction" dipping customers' card accounts: the chip in the card adds a two-factor authentication step, as much to keep the merchants and banks honest as to cut down on customer fraud.

(I've been out of this business for over a decade so my knowledge is slowly decaying.)


Hi Charlie, thought you'd like to know I'm currently in an email conversation with Waterstones over why they are selling the Bloodline Feud and other TOR books with DRM.

They don't have the Traders War up as an ebook yet.


Can you give me some more information on that? What ebook platform are they using (is it Kobo? Adobe Digital Editions?) and the ISBNs of some of the offending titles?

(I'm waiting to hear if this is something my editor knows about: if not, I can pass it on up the chain and hopefully get some arses kicked.)


ISBN : 9780230771734

They are using Adobe Digital Editions for DRM, all your books listed on the site are showing as having DRM that's the only one I was pretty sure shouldn't. (Did the DRM removal apply retroactively to older books?)

My original email :

Are there any plans for you to sell TOR books without DRM on them?

Their reply :

Dear Simon,

Thank you for your email.

At present the majority of eBooks we sell have a DRM or Digital Rights Management scheme applied to them. This is not something that we have required but is something that publishers have chosen to use to protect the eBook from being shared or any publicity rights being broken.

We welcome any feedback on DRM from the customers and will happily pass it on to relevant publishers.

Thank you for your patience and please accept our apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience caused.

My reply to them :

I only asked because I was reading an interview with the head of TOR books in the UK saying that their move to not required DRM last year had gone well. I then went and checked the recent Charles Stross release The Bloodline Feud, published by Tor that has DRM on it.

Which prompted my email.

(And boy should I re-read emails before I send them)


They are using Adobe Digital Editions for DRM, all your books listed on the site are showing as having DRM that's the only one I was pretty sure shouldn't. (Did the DRM removal apply retroactively to older books?)

The DRM removal only applies to books from Tor. Orbit, a subsidiary of Hachette, insist on DRM on everything; so do Ace in the US.

The original editions of the first three merchant princes books that Tor UK published back in the day are effectively defunct -- if they're still in the catalog they really ought to be withdrawn. Back then, Tor was applying DRM; I can't see them taking the effort to remove it from dead titles.

So the only DRM-free books should be THE BLOODLINE FEUD and the next two in the series when they debut, plus THE RAPTURE OF THE NERDS.

If you can confirm that THE BLOODLINE FEUD has DRM, I will bring this to the attention of the folks at Tor.


Well The Bloodline Feud is showing with DRM in the list. I didn't get it last month as I totally messed my money up. The Rapture of the Nerds isn't listed as an ebook yet.


My editor, despite being on vacation, has queried this with the appropriate production folks at Tor/Macmillan. Hopefully something will happen in the next week. (Turns out I'm not the only author affected; however, as Amazon have about 90% of the UK ebook market, nobody's kicked up a fuss until now.)


Yes, there is more security in the Verified by Visa system. The banks use that fact to claim any fraud is the customers' fault and to foist the liability onto the cardholders, i.e. us. See Ross Anderson's thoughts on the matter.

[[ Mod: link repaired ]]


For those in the US: AbeBooks has it for delivery to the US.

This is also a good source for UK sf.


AbeBooks is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.


Well I also noticed on p24 of the UK paperback where Mo is teasing Bob about getting his officers commission.

Civil service grades (and ex civil service like BT) already map to Milatery Rank and Bob and Mo (as M&P grades managerial and Professionals) have been officers for along time if not from day 1.

What they appear to be grooming Bob for is senior civil service which starts at the brigadier level.

And even the snarky civil servants like Bob and a dare say my self know roughly where they sit.

Though I have mates from BT who can cite chapter and verse on how many square yards of office space each grade should get and exactly which sort of wood there desk should be made of.


Kobo (via W.H. Smith, as it happens) has non-DRM epub.


Kobo had absolutely no qualms taking my money for The Bloodline Feud, coming from a german IP address.


Already halfway through the first volume :-) Is this the same form factor as the Bloodline Feud? (i.e. trade paperback-ish)


Size of books != trade paperback or mass market paperback.

Mass market/trade refer to distribution channels. Mass market still exists, but is ailing, in the United States; it's dead as a doornail in the UK (and has been so for 20 years). "Trade" simply means the books are distributed to bookstores like hardcovers -- shipped to the shop on credit from the wholesaler, to be paid for in full or returned within 90 or 120 days of shipping from the distribution hub.

Mass market and trade books traditionally come in different physical sizes because mass market books (the A-format small paperbacks) would have their covers ripped off and returned as proof of destruction, in lieu of payment for sale, as part of the credit terms. It would be kind of embarrassing to rip the covers off trade books (the bookstore would then be liable for the full purchase price) so they were printed in B-format or C-format sizes (bigger).

As there is no more mass market distribution channel, paperbacks are increasingly sold in larger form factors just because someone in Marketing thinks the punters will be happier to pay more for a physically bigger lump of dead tree.

The UK Merchant Princes omnibuses are C-format (i.e. maxi-sized trade) paperbacks. I don't expect them to be reprinted in A-format (mass market sized paperback) at any point.


Notice about DRM on Waterstones editions of my Tor titles

Tor UK have contacted Waterstones and asked them to remove the DRM from these titles. They are also investigating to see which other Tor titles are affected. We have no ETA for a fix yet -- that's in Waterstones' hands -- but the problem has been actively addressed.


anonemouse @ 21 Broken Link - can't get it to open?

I'm interested, because I have the other/opposite problem - a supplier point-blank refusing to accept/abide by the "Sale of Goods Act" on faulty/non-working kit.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on May 1, 2013 8:30 PM.

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