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Charlie is traveling for a couple of days so I'm dropping by for a quick post. Remember me from last April? Dracula-movie guy? Vaguely familiar?

Anyway, I wanted to kick around a few ideas about ebooks; authors (and some real people) have been talking this subject to death for years--decades, even--so what's new to say?

Well, my book is new. My latest novel came out yesterday and I've been surprised by the way sales are running on Amazon.com. It's a huge difference from last year when the early ebook and pbook sales were pretty much neck and neck.

This year it's not even close. Early orders for the Kindle edition of Circle of Enemies have been much, much higher than the physical book. The ebook cracked Amazon.com's Contemporary Fantasy bestseller list while sales rank for the mass market paperback barely moved out of five figures. A number of readers also told me that they ordered digital versions of the book after being unable to find it in a brick-and-mortar store on release day.

I realize this isn't anything like a complete picture of sales trends, but it is interesting in the same way Netflix is moving away from mailing DVDs. Amazon.com is so well positioned to sell digital files that one glance at their list of Contemporary Fantasy bestsellers shows one unsurprising fact: It's not dominated by books put out by New York publishers.

As I write this, the top three books are in the "Vampire for Hire" series, which are self-published, as are seven of the top ten. Amazon.com's digital customers appear to be moving toward self-published books and away from professionally-published ones.

What does that mean for the future? Well, we're no strangers to love. You know the rules and so do I. A full commitment's what I'm thinking of. You wouldn't get this from any other guy. I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling. Gotta make you understand.

Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry. Never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.

We've known each other for so long. Your heart's been aching but, you're too shy to say it...

Okay, yeah, that was a rickroll. Hopefully, you laughed, which is more than you would have gotten out of my predictions of the future. The truth is, I don't know if anyone is really capable of calling the score on this one. Yeah the "book stink" people (the folks who are always talking about the way books smell) are the minority most of us expected, and ebook sales are growing, but the picture is more complex than that. Ebooks seem to be hitting mass market originals (like my books) much harder than hardbacks and trade-sized paperbacks, but how much more of a bite can they take? What happened to windowing? If ebook readers buy even more self-published books, will Amazon.com be less of a problem for brick-and-mortar indie stores? And what about those readers who really make a book into a mega-hit, the casual, two-book-a-year, everyone-else-has-read-DaVinci-Code-so-I-should-too people?

It's fascinating (if slightly painful) and I'm curious to see if the market finds an equilibrium soon. I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling.

ObPlug: Here's a couple of links for those curious about my books: New book, which Charlie has very kindly blurbed | Sample chapter | Entire series.

Thanks for reading.

UK Glasshouse cover

My first author copy of the British edition of GLASSHOUSE came in the post today. The other author copies are coming from the warehouse shortly, which means it's going to be showing up in bookstores over the next few weeks. So if you're a UK native and wonder what I wrote after ACCELERANDO, now's your chance to find out (and here's the Amazon page to go to if you want to buy a copy).

From the cover copy:When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn't take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It's the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees' personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew. On the run from a ruthless pursuer and searching for a place to hide, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse. Constructed to simulate a pre-accelerated culture, participants are assigned anonymized identities: it looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters, and of his own unbalanced psyche ...

(Note for American readers: the US mass market paperback comes out in June or July. However, because the dollar has slumped against just about every other currency, I wouldn't recommend importing a UK paperback — retailing at £6.99, it'll set you back $14 before postage, and you can pick up a US hardcover for barely more than that.)

Or rather, I'm one of the folks Rick Kleffel interviewed for Weekend Edition Sunday, which you can catch online via the link.

A little bird tells me that my latest novel, The Jennifer Morgue, should be on its way to bookshops this week. It's a sequel to "The Atrocity Archives", and continues the adventures of Bob Howard, network administrator and computational demonologist. You can find copies either in your local specialist bookstore, or via Golden Gryphon (the publisher) at the link above, or (if you insist) at Amazon.com (US) or Amazon.co.uk (UK). Note that this is the amazing, high quality first edition printed on real paper; if you want a year you'll be able to get it in paperback from Ace and Orbit, but that won't be the same.

Please consider buying a copy. My widow and all sixteen orphans, not to mention the livestock, will be eternally grateful.

The New York Times review of GLASSHOUSE can be found here (note: NYTimes login required). It seemed to creep out their reviewer:


It's one nightmarish panopticon that Stross has built here, and I can think of no greater testament to its effectiveness than my own relief at having been liberated from it.

Heh. "Liberated from it?" That's what you think, buddy ...

cover picture

I don't normally blog translations here, but I thought this was particularly noteworthy.

(Incidentally, if you've been wondering about the business side of publishing, it's worth noting that this is a book I wrote in 1995-98, that went on sale in a US hardcover edition in 2003, and it's still coming out for the first time in other countries and languages.)

SFReviews have a review of Glasshouse.

(NB: it's arriving in bookstores this week, so if you feel the urge to read the bits he's carefully not describing, you can get your hands on it now.)

"I want you to know, darling, that I'm leaving you for another sex robot -- and she's twice the man you'll ever be," Laura explained as she flounced over to the front door, wafting an alluring aroma of mineral oil behind her ...

(That's from Trunk and Disorderly, coming soon to a store near you, via Asimov's Science Fiction magazine.)

I'm very pleased to announce the Accelerando has won the Locus Award for best science fiction novel of 2005. Details here.

Specials

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