Back to: Empire Games (and Merchant Princes): the inevitable spoiler thread!

PSA: Publishing supply chain shortages

Quantum of Nightmares (UK link) comes out on January 11th in the USA and January 13th in the UK. It's the second New Management novel, and a direct sequel to Dead Lies Dreaming.

If you want to buy the ebook, you're fine, but if you want a paper edition you really ought to preorder it now.

The publishing industry is being sandbagged by horrible supply chain problems. This is a global problem: shipping costs are through the roof, there's a shortage of paper, a shortage of workers (COVID19 is still happening, after all) and publishers are affected everywhere. If you regularly buy comics, especially ones in four colour print, you'll already have noticed multi-month delays stacking up. Now the printing and logistics backlogs are hitting novels, just in time for the festive season.

Tor are as well-positioned to cope with the supply chain mess as any publisher, and they've already allocated a production run to Quantum of Nightmares. (Same goes for Orbit in the UK.) But if it sells well and demand outstrips their advance estimates, the book will need to go into reprint—and instead of this taking 1-2 weeks (as in normal times) it's likely to be out of stock for much longer.

Of course the ebook edition won't be affected by this. But if you want a paper copy you may want to order it ASAP.

45 Comments

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1:

Query
"Transreal" ??

2:

Wot he sed... Any chance of Transreal getting an order in?

3:

Yes to both of you: if you pre-order from Transreal, you should get signed copies on schedule.

The problem will come for late purchasers if the book sells out and needs reprinting. (Which is a distinct possibility: Orbit in the UK fine tune their print runs savagely, and I am optimistic that this book will sell in line with previous Laundryverse novels.)

The main news about the supply chain issues in publishing is coming out of the USA and mostly talks about books being imported from manufacturing facilities overseas. So it definitely affects late orders for the US hardcover.

The UK publishers tend to print locally on a just-in-time basis: I've seen them do hardcover reprint runs of as few as 150 copies, which is apparently profitable these days. (Used to be that they didn't roll the presses for less than 1000 h/c.) But UK domestic supply chains are such a mess right now I suspect a different set of problems will crop up -- either paper shortages at the input end, or HGV driver shortages at the distribution side.

Either way, it's sensible to preorder (and yes, Mike will be selling it from Transreal, and I will be signing stock for him.)

4:

E-books FTW!

5:

Ordered, with MZN :-)

6:

Amem to that!

Just checked and the Kobo store confirms my pre-order for January 11th.

I must say nothing beats a just printed paper book in terms of reading pleasure, but since I started using an e-reader, the convenience has trumped up the feeling. Having all my books together, backed up and searchable is a real win.

7:

It was running out of shelf space that pushed me onto ebooks. That and not having to pack a separate bag of books when I go on holiday for more than a few days.
Has anyone ever investigated the environmental impact of ebooks vs paper books?

8:

Pre-ordered the ebook from Kobo. Just have to hope that the only factory in the world that makes ones and zeros isn't struck down with COVID between now and January, or that they can find an empty shipping container to put them all in to get them to Felixstowe, or a lorry driver to take them to the site where they are shovelled in to the internet!

9:

This.

I still prefer paper for large-format art books, but for fiction and most non-fiction I'm entirely digital now.

10:

Pre-ordered the ebook from Kobo. Just have to hope that the only factory in the world that makes ones and zeros isn't struck down with COVID between now and January, or that they can find an empty shipping container to put them all in to get them to Felixstowe, or a lorry driver to take them to the site where they are shovelled in to the internet!

I've been told "supply chain problems" for a late digital product!

(I could understand "Covid problems", but have no idea how the shortage of shipping can affect a digital product, which leads me to believe it was a convenient excuse for someone's cockup.)

11:

I used to have a library of >2000 dead tree books. I loved having a 7 x 2 m wall of books in my apartment, but they were an amazing pain in the butt whenever I had to move house -- not just the packing and weight, but the extraordinary tedium of re-alphabetizing them. About the year 2000 I stopped buying paper books and stopped carrying a mini-library with me when I traveled. (Still had to have one or two paperbacks to read while waiting for take-off, but that nonsense finally ended.)

When I moved to Canada in 2015 I put most of my books in storage. (This was less of a psychological wrench than giving them away). I occasionally miss them, mostly when I'm trying to dig up some obscure Golden Age SF.

Textbooks and reference works are better in paper (although the latter have mostly been supplanted by the web). For anything that is mostly words where I intend to start at the first page and read page after age until I get to the end, though, I now prefer ebooks. Besides the obvious points, I like that I don't have to hold the book open. I often read while eating or mucking around on the computer. Paperbacks have to be held open by hand or by laying something heavy on them. A kindle paperwhite sits nicely and readably on the table next to my plate.

12:

I generally buy fiction in Kindle format for the reasons LAvery gives. But there are annoyances,especially when the fiction (as is so often the case with fantasy) includes maps. These are inevitably too small to be legible or are spread over two pages. Non-fiction books with notes or indexes are a bloody nuisance in ebook form.

13:

I also buy fiction for those reasons. And also because I can control the formatting. I have just had too many books with odd fonts or spacing or such, and at least for fiction, want it formatted my way.

14:

As I get older, the ability to enlarge the type is useful — means I can read longer before my eyes get tired.

15:

Amusingly, one of my editors asked me to do a map for "Empire Games" because obviously it was part of a fantasy series.

(I shot that one down hard by pointing out (a) I'm not a cartographer, (b) it'd be a map of the world with only a handful of names changed, and (c) it's a near-future thriller, not fantasy. They settled for a list of principal characters instead.)

16:

For Earth 1, an outline of the USA and the text "here be radioactive fallout"?

17:

Actually, besides fantasy, another genre that typically has maps is military history, with battle maps. At some points in the Merchant Princes one or two of those might have come in handy.

18:

> They settled for a list of principal characters instead.

I actually loved the list of principal characters and the timeline. Brought back enough memories of the previous books that at no point i had to wonder who the f** someone is in Empire Games.

19:

I actually loved the list of principal characters and the timeline. Brought back enough memories of the previous books that at no point i had to wonder who the f** someone is in Empire Games.

Yeah, they were especially helpful for Invisible Sun, because it had been so long since the previous book. I bookmarked them and flipped back pretty often as I read.

20:

Charlie Stross @ 15: Amusingly, one of my editors asked me to do a map for "Empire Games" because obviously it was part of a fantasy series.

(I shot that one down hard by pointing out (a) I'm not a cartographer, (b) it'd be a map of the world with only a handful of names changed, and (c) it's a near-future thriller, not fantasy. They settled for a list of principal characters instead.)

Would it be Ok if someone else made maps? They could take a blank U.S. (North America?) map [and Europe/Asia as needed] and insert the place names as from the different timelines. A reader could superimpose the maps to see the geographic relationships

Might be useful for some of us to visualize.

21:

There is no good reason that notes and indices could not be handled better in Ebook form than print, but the trend seems to be to make an increasing mess of them even in print. I agree that they are a real pain in the Ereaders and Ebook formats we are inflicted with.

And I agree about maps. I have no problem with font sizes (having 6 dioptres of myopia), but find them unreadable. It's made worse by the fad for using pseudo-archaic graphics and pseudo-handwritten labels - those are often almost unreadable even in print.

22:

In a number of my ebooks when you tap on the note marker in the text you get taken to the note, and then another tap brings you back to the text. Not quite as convenient as glancing to the bottom of the page, but much the same as finding the end of the chapter, reading the note, and the flipping back to the page you hopefully left a finger in…

In others, tapping the note marker brings up a floating window with the note in, and tapping outside the window closes it.

Both those methods seem to work reasonably well.


Of course, in other books there is no link so you have to manually scroll, or a link only to the note but not back to the text. Those ebooks are a real pain.

23:

You can make a map, but don't expect me to proofread it!

24:

Yes. Mine do that, too, but the note number is in a tiny font, and attempting to get to it usually triggers one of the two other major tap actions (scroll/toolbar and dictionary) on my Ereader. And reading on other devices isn't much better. No doubt there ARE environments that handle them better, but I have not encountered one.

25:

Well, I have the text enlarged quite a bit, so the note numbers are still easily visible.

I'm mostly using Marvin on an iPad Mini now, based on Charlie's recommendation. Used to use iBooks until it glitched and hid most of my library. Both were adequate for interpreting taps correctly :-)

26:

Visible, yes, but MUCH smaller than even my pinky's tip! The problem is the relative size - if I enlarged the text enough to hit the note number reliably, there wouldn't be enough on a page to read it without going bananas.

Have you ever been inflicted with reading text through a 20x4 character keyhole? I have.

27:

On my iPad the notes are 10-12 point, roughly, for most books when I have the text at my usual viewing size. Big enough to tap reliably. I do tend to have 1-2 paragraphs on the screen at a time, so might be enlarging the text more than you'd be comfortable with.

I have worked with small displays before. Wrote dozens of articles on a palmtop. Don't miss those days at all!

28:

Charlie Stross @ 23: You can make a map, but don't expect me to proofread it!

I would not expect that. I just wanted to be sure I was not trespassing on your Intellectual Property if I did make one for my own use.

Don't know if I will, but I definitely would not if you opposed it.

29:

I refer you to my fanfic policy from 2010, which needs amending only to add that "fanfic" includes spin-off products like maps, songs, video games, epic poetry, bioengineered pets based on fictional animal species, and cartoons for purposes of not annoying me.

30:

bioengineered pets based on fictional animal species

Glowing green worms for the eyes of Residual Human Resources cosplayers definitely seem feasible.

31:

With reference to the comment in there "If you've got a commercial idea, drop me a line and we'll talk business."

I am no artist, but evidently at least one person with art skills is pondering the idea of maps. So if they are serious.

How about a collection of character portraits and pictures of important places/things in the story? Possibly with a map of the relevant timeline at the start of each section? That would need input from you Charlie, about what the people and things should look like.

32:

I, for one, would suggest creating and auctioning off (at a Con) The Official Authorial Map of the relationship of the timelines to each other in paratime. Considering that maps are supposed to be useful simplifications of the systems represented, that might be doable.

Probably best if this item is auctioned off for charity though. Possibly in a heavily sealed envelope.

33:

Heteromeles @ 32: I, for one, would suggest creating and auctioning off (at a Con) The Official Authorial Map of the relationship of the timelines to each other in paratime. Considering that maps are supposed to be useful simplifications of the systems represented, that might be doable.

Probably best if this item is auctioned off for charity though. Possibly in a heavily sealed envelope.

That's Charlie's prerogative if he wants to do that.

I was just thinking of taking an outline map of the U.S. showing the location of major cities, duplicating it a couple of times, erasing the cities from the two duplicated maps & replacing them with the names of whatever towns or other features are located in their places in the other timelines ... just to make it easier to track character locations, such as the Gruinmarkt has no city where Boston is located in ~USA and the Commonwealth

IF I did make such maps, they would be for MY PERSONAL USE ONLY. Y'all would never see them ... unless Charlie wanted copies and HE decided to share them with you.

34:

The Traders' War and Dark State arrived yesterday. The Revolution Trade arrived today. Empire Games & Invisible Sun are still on the way ...

I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Bloodline Feud.

35:
IF I did make such maps, they would be for MY PERSONAL USE ONLY. Y'all would never see them ... unless Charlie wanted copies and HE decided to share them with you.

TBH, I'm very surprised that you're asking Charlie's permission. If I felt the urge to make some maps of the different timelines on my own, for my own personal use, and never planned to show them to anyone, I would just go ahead and do it. It would never occur to me that this was anything other than a private matter that was entirely up to me.

36:

LAvery @ 35:

IF I did make such maps, they would be for MY PERSONAL USE ONLY. Y'all would never see them ... unless Charlie wanted copies and HE decided to share them with you.

TBH, I'm very surprised that you're asking Charlie's permission. If I felt the urge to make some maps of the different timelines on my own, for my own personal use, and never planned to show them to anyone, I would just go ahead and do it. It would never occur to me that this was anything other than a private matter that was entirely up to me.

I'm surprised too, because I wasn't asking permission to make maps. I was simply stating respect for Charlie's copyright.

37:

I will sell an NFT of the map; I'm sure everyone agrees that is completely aboveboard

38:

Sigh...Those who make silly jokes are condemned to explain them.

--Of course it's Charlie's prerogative.
--Yes, he's expressed an active dislike of mapmaking.
--No, I don't want to give him a hard time.

Therefore,

--What do you think a map of THREE (OR MORE) timeLINES would look like, if time runs MORE OR LESS IN PARALLEL on each of them?

My apologies to everyone else who thought this was vague amusing or something.

40:

What would a paratime map look like, a timeline (left to right) showing the time of the branch point?

I originally thought that, based on the information from the first set of books, that jaunting was the cause of a world branch (the timing seemed to fit), but from what I've read here (I haven't read the next set yet, I wanted OGH to finish this next first) that isn't what the author thought. oh well...

41:

The geography remains the same. Only the place names have been changed ...

42:

Unsurprisingly (at least to me) since the physical geography of the planet doesn't seem to vary much between timelines.

43:

paws4thot @ 42: Unsurprisingly (at least to me) since the physical geography of the planet doesn't seem to vary much between timelines.

Wasn't about the geography ..."the names have been changed ..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx5GwULPU90

44:

I've gotten more conservative about buying print books, now that we have two people in a three-bedroom apartment that holds 10 1/2 sets of bookshelves; a book has to justify taking up shelf space. But on the other hand, my first preference is for reading print; my second is for reading on a 27-inch monitor; e-readers and tablets are less satisfying than either. I find that I prefer to have books that I really love in hard copy; we have Austen and Kipling and Sayers and Nix in that form, for example. Books that I do want to read, but don't expect to love so much that I want to commit shelf space, go on my hard drive.

I never read books on my phone; my eyes can't handle tiny print, and tolerably large print puts so few words on the screen that it feels like drinking a good ginger beer one drop at a time. I'm accustomed to casting my eyes over a book-sized page. I can get that from a desktop monitor; my e-reader and tablet are just a little smaller than optimal.

I also prefer to carry around print books if I want something to read while waiting for a medical appointment or the like. I don't quite trust myself to keep track of a portable electronic device while I'm running errands; I might start thinking about something else and set it down—I lost two pairs of glasses that way and had to replace them! Though now that mass market paperbacks are a dying phylum I probably need to rethink that.

45:

Well plate tectonics is driven by convection within the planet's mantle, so if there was a timeline which diverged from ours a few hundred million years ago then its quite likely that the geography would be distinctly different. The flora and fauna would also be very different too. Hmmm. Could be a story there.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on October 12, 2021 3:06 PM.

Empire Games (and Merchant Princes): the inevitable spoiler thread! was the previous entry in this blog.

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