Today I’m here to sell books—not mine but books by other SF writers you know. Books available from online booksellers built by and for the SF community. This is essentially a commercial for a purely SFnal book-buying ecosystem: books by SF writers, published by SF writers, and sold by SF writers, with as much of the proceeds as humanly possible going to the creators. You can buy—without DRM—novels and short stories, collections and anthologies and magazines, stuff that you might actually want to read, and read anywhere, on any device.
Queen of this trio of innovative booksellers is Book View Cafe. BVC is a publishing collective initially formed in 2008 around a core group of SF writers who wanted to use the internet to sell their work. Six years later, they have a spiffy website with a daily blog and a formidable catalogue, both new and back-list. They sell in many formats—EPUB and MOBI, of course, but also a few in PDF, and a handful as audio and/or paper (these two last mainly, I think, through third-party retailers).
Book View Cafe is where you’ll find Nebula- and Hugo-winning novels and stories by Vonda N. McIntyre. She does much of the coding that makes the books you buy render beautifully, and she’ll be a Guest of Honour at next year’s Worldcon. I’ve been a fan of her work since reading The Exile Waiting, then Dreamsnake, then Superluminal. (Even her Star Trek novels are good.) Her Nebula-winning The Moon and the Sun will be a film starring Pierce Brosnan, Bingbing Fan, Kaya Scodilario, and William Hurt next year.
There’s a new blog post up on BVC every day. One of the bloggers—who, like McIntyre, is one of the collective’s founders—is Ursula K. le Guin. No doubt you’re familiar with her stories (novels such as The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea trilogy; shorter work like “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”) but you might be less familiar with her non-fiction. Le Guin is never afraid to say what must be said, often with compassion, sometimes with scathing wit. I still grin when I think about her review in the Guardian of Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, more particularly her opinion of Atwood’s squirming away from the Science Fiction label.
Book View Cafe is where Linda Nagata publishes her novels, new and old. Try The Bohr Maker or her recent, Nebula-nominated Red: First Light. This is hard SF, military SF, and a bloody good read. I enjoyed it immensely.
As I’ve said, Book View Cafe began with SF writers but now they also sell historical, romance, and mainstream fiction. In the US you can find their books in your local library thanks to a clever deal with Overdrive. About 95% of their revenues go directly to authors. For more info than I could possibly give you here, see their FAQ. I think you might be particularly interested in how the collective works. And buy a book while you’re there; they’re not expensive.
I’m also inordinately fond of Wizards Tower Books, the sales arm of Wizards’ Tower Press. Formed by Hugo Award-winning fan Cheryl Morgan four years ago to sell both the books of other independent presses and their own WTP list, they’ve lately had a rethink and are now selling only their own books. Their list is small and interesting, with writers such as Lyda Morehouse and Ben Jeapes. Again, they’re available DRM-free, in just about any format. And you don’t have to choose which one: you get all formats included in one low price. For multi-platform folk, this is a great deal. The storefront is a bit sparse at the moment, as it’s just reopened, but I have no doubt this will change. Meanwhile, go take a look and see if there’s anything you fancy.
And finally there’s Weightless Books. This is the one with, possibly, the most varied selection. They have books by Kelley Eskridge, my wife: her novel, Solitaire, and the truly amazing collection, Dangerous Space. (Yes, of course I’m biased. I’m her wife. But take my word for it: if you want your conceptions about gender forcibly rearranged and your heart squeezed by truly fine fiction, then this is the collection for you.) They have work by another Kelly, Kelly Link. Lin’s husband, Gavin Grant, founded Weightless (and runs it with Michael J DeLuca) to sell Small Beer Press books. The works they sell now number in the zillions (it’s a technical term), work by everyone from Kelley to Kelly to Peter Dickinson to Lavie Tidhar, as well as anthologies such as Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best, and magazines like Lightspeed and Clarkesworld. All in a variety of formats and DRM-free. You can read them on anything, anywhere, anytime.
These three online book shops—Book View Cafe, Wizard’s Tower Books, and Weightless—are all worth your time. And money. They are enterprises built by SF readers and writers for SF readers and writers. The money stays in the community and supports the creation of more good books. Go buy something.