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The Media

Buy One Book, Get Twenty-Two Free 150

nojayuk writes "Jim Baen of Baen Books is releasing David Weber's latest space opera epic in the Honor Harrington series, War of Honor, with a CD-ROM bound in the back a la computer reference works. From the website, he says this CD-ROM will contain the complete text of 22 novels, including all the previous Harrington books by Weber as well as illustrations of book jackets, sound samples etc. The Baen website says the texts on the CD-ROM will be unencrypted, requiring no special readers or decoders. The files are in .rtf or .html format, and the buyer will be able to download them into their PDA of choice. Baen's website is already a rich source of free SF books for download; I've harvested quite a few myself in the past. Jim and many of his writers are advocates of this kind of promotion, dismissing talk about piracy as paranoia. Baen books also supports a Web subscription service for new books, another bonus for PDA bookreaders." We've mentioned the Baen library and its effects on sales in several previous stories; it'll be interesting to see how this CD-ROM helps or hurts.
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Buy One Book, Get Twenty-Two Free

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  • God, if only (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 )
    I was at all interested in hack David Weber's stories...

    I doubt it will hurt his sales very much. It isn't like he's a huge name in sci-fi.

    File sharing seems to have a leveling effect. It brings high-sellers down and it boosts low-sellers up.

    Say what you will about popular music, but in the literary world, a high ranking usually equates with talent. Low ranking usually means the opposite.
    • Re:God, if only (Score:2, Informative)

      by xactoguy ( 555443 )
      He feels it won't have any negative impact on his sales at all, rather, he feels that by people reading his books, and then telling othere about them, he will infact boost his sales. ( From the intruduction to the free library )
    • Re: God, if only (Score:3, Interesting)

      by INT 21h ( 7143 )
      That's not my experience, and especially not with fantasy/sf. I picked up a book by Terry Goodkind from the bestsellers list at the airport a few weeks back and gods is it awful! The preaching (endlessly), the wringing of hands, the posturing! What is it with the US and coming-of-age books anyway? Ick. Don't even get me started on Robert Jordan. However, books that have have picked up a Hugo, Nebula and/or Cambell are usually well worth the money and shelf-space. The n hundred page bricks that are so common these days simply can't be as intense and addictive as the less than 200-pagers of yore.

      Best book I've read in the recent months: 'The Stars My Destination' by Alfred Bester.
      • Heh.

        Regardless of your personal opinion (which I can understand fully), most books that make it to the best seller list of their respective genre are well written and usually accessible to all readers. That Goodkind is a dufus and that his fans are dufus-enablers is just an exception to the rule.

        Most good writing is well known and well received. Oprah's book club is the perpetual exception to the rule.
        • I've grown too picky for "well-written" and "accessible", and especially the latter. I'm no longer a kid and I rarely have the time for binge-reading the sugar-covered, mass-produced amassing of words that are forgotten half an hour later, around the clock for days on end. Ah, give me books that challenge, scar, scares me, makes me think in new ways, lets me see things from an unexpected and/or alien perspective (sf is often great for this)... Any suggestions?
        • Re: God, if only (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Ever read anything by Ian Flemming? Absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever. Makes Tom Clancy look almost readable by comparison.
      • by Archfeld ( 6757 )
        George R.R. Martin for EXCELLENT fantasy without the cliche's and crap. The game of throne ROCKS.
        • I'll concur in that it's pretty good -- There are still some cliches (bizarrely retaining a clearly derivative title 'Ser', for instance, and there's a pretty decent resemblance to medieval European culture overall, esp. technology wise) but the characters are nicely done, in general. At times it's unclear who gets the "good", "evil" and "plain misguided tool of Eeeeeeeeevil" labels, and that's a good thing in this case; the characters aren't unidimensional caricatures out of a simple cowboy/Western flick.

          I don't often go for serials, but I've been pretty happy with this one so far.
      • Best book I've read in the recent months: 'The Stars My Destination' by Alfred Bester.
        Ah, yes. The proto-cyberpunk novel, written decades before the term cyberpunk was coined. I'd consider it one of the all time greats of fiction, science or otherwise. Bester is a fantastic writer, and it's well worth chasing up more of his work (although, as a caveat, 'The Stars...' was originally released under the title 'Tiger, Tiger' - I've got one of each =). His short stories are equally compelling.
        As for your rant about the "best-sellers", I couldn't agree more. Fortunately, my impecunious status forces me to buy almost all my books second-hand, which means that I'm building up a very nice collection of the better pre-1960 sf. On the downside, it's very difficult to find any good recent sf 2nd hand - for eg, I've only once found a 2nd hand Lois McMaster Bujold, and Iain M Banks is almost as scarce.
        You might also enjoy 'Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand' by Samuel R Delaney. It's somewhat lengthier than Bester's work, but equally rewarding. It also contains what I'd consider to be the way the internet would work in a semi-ideal future.

    • Say what you will about popular music, but in the literary world, a high ranking usually equates with talent. Low ranking usually means the opposite.

      Mostly true, but not entirely.
      IMHO it solely depends on what you call "talent". The guys that get the Nobel Literature Prize are supposed to be "top of the cream" - but they don't exactly sell a lot. (Can you even remember the names of the previous winners?) And many "bestsellers" I have read (especially on the Sci-Fi/Fantasy side) have been... sh*t.
      But some (a *lot* of) people seem to love them.

      Honestly, I haven't read any works of Weber's, but from my point of view his stuff may either be really great, or really bad. Both options considering the quality of the genre at large.

      And it all probably depends on who you are, and what "intellectual level" you're on, to get elitistic on you.

      But still, as you said, it probably won't hurt his sales at all.
      Probably the opposite.
      • The guys that get the Nobel Literature Prize are supposed to be "top of the cream" - but they don't exactly sell a lot. (Can you even remember the names of the previous winners?)

        Faulkner, maybe Kundera and Bertrand Russell. John Katz.

        Point taken.
    • by MaggieL ( 10193 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @11:57AM (#4008065)
      I first started reading Weber's first Honor Harrington book "On Basilisk Station" in softcopy form, and then proceded to buy it and all of the Honor Harrington books. I'll certainly buy this new one, and having the books in softcopy will make it much easier for me to evangelize them.

      Now if only they will do the same with Lois McMaster Bujold's "Miles Vorkosigan" series (also publish by Baen), I'll be a VERY happy girl. Honor rocks, and the Vorkosigan stories are priceless. Is "Bujold" a huge-enough name for you? :-)

      I'd love to see Mary Gentle's "A Secret History" done this way too.
      • Lois isn't sold on the E-Book thing, so she isn't likely to do this.

        For those who call David Weber a hack and not a big name, might I remind you that he, along with Lois McMaster Bujold, is one of the few SF authors who regularily charts on the NY Times Bestseller List. the last Honor novel hit the top 10. Name another SF (Not fantasy) author who can do that consistency. So what if he writes Hornblower in space, his books are consistently good reads, unlike most of that crap passed off as 'Literary SF' (aka Unreadable shite).

        A Barfly.

        The Crazy Finn
        • Lois isn't sold on the E-Book thing, so she isn't likely to do this.
          However, she has "The Mountains of Mourning" up on Baen's free library site. Perhaps she isn't sold on selling E-Books--as opposed to electronically releasing some of your old works to build interest in your current tiltes.

          Until portable readers are a lot better (say the size and weight of a paperback, with the text resolution of print, a page flipping mechanism as fast as a real book, and capable of holding at least a 12-hour charge), I'm going to be reading books on paper. But I might well start a book in electronic form, and order the paperback if I get into it.

      • This collection's on the top of my to-buy list right now. If they ever do this with Bujold's books, I'll be grabbing that too. Especially if they include Ethan of Athos and Falling Free and the assorted short stories she's written that never got moved into books. (I'm pretty sure there's one or two...)

        For those who've been complaining about a lack of good science fiction, give Weber a try. Its very definitely space opera, but its good space opera. His grasp of the realities of space combat, despite some of the technology he invents to simplify things, is impressive.

        Bujold's even better, though I've seen a lot of people complaining that "women can't write science fiction", very few of them have actually read Bujold's books. Most "hard" science fiction has very artificial-feeling characters and societies, despite its professed motive of pondering the effects of technology on people and society. (They all seem to make the same assumptions about "current trends") Bujold's actually created a high-technology society that looks and feels realistic, especially her Beta Colony and Cetaganda.

        • Most of her short stories that are not in book form from Baen, are in book form in Dreamweaver's Dilemna [] from NESFA press.
        • Agreed. And though Honor is very good, I think Path of the Fury and, maybe, Apocalypse Troll beat any book on the Honor Harrington series by itself (the fact that HH _is_ a series adds something to each book, though).

          As for fantasy, the Bahzel books are easily among the best fantasy out there.
          • Apocalypse Troll was okay (though very apropos for Slashdot ;) ), but Path of the Fury was great. I agree that its better than any single Honor book, but the Honor books as a series have a scope, depth, and sweeping plot arc it just can't match.

      • I know that they plan to do it with future releases in some of their more popular series, such as John Ringo's Posleen books (I hope they include some Sluggy Freelance [] on that one :) and Ringo & Weber's March to... books. But I'm uncertain they'd do it with Bujold's next.

        For one thing, I doubt they even have them all electronically. Most of her works were published before the start of Webscription.

        And Lois Bujold is one of the more hesitant writers of Baen's stables about the benefits of free electronic release. In a New York Times article a year or so ago, she was quoted as having no plans to release anything in the Free Library. Even now, when she at last decided to join the other authors who have released a number of novels, she has only released...a novella, The Mountains of Mourning

        Somehow, I can't see her being very excited about putting all her books on a CD-ROM inside of just the one.
        • For one thing, I doubt they even have them all electronically. Most of her works were published before the start of Webscription.
          AFAIK, just about all publishing houses accept/demand story submission in softcopy (i.e. text/Word doc/TEX). It's been that way for years. So it's quite possible for them to convert books into HTML/RTF formats fairly easily.

          Also, I guess Lois McMaster Bujold isn't quite as hesitant as you think since her official webpage [] has a list of available e-books [] available from Baen as well as this page at []

          They're not all free, but I don't have a problem paying $15 for six to eight books.
      • Now if only they will do the same with Lois McMaster Bujold's "Miles Vorkosigan" series (also publish by Baen), I'll be a VERY happy girl.

        The early Bujold works (including the books Falling Free and Ethan of Athos that others in this thread have mentioned wanting) are available at []. Combine this with several of the newer works that are available on Baen's [] site, and there's just a few in the middle that are not currently available in ebook format. The latest WebScription setup even lets you buy individual books instead of a monthly bundle of books, if you prefer that.

        I'm certainly hoping that the gaps in the Bujold ebook availability will get closed in before too long has passed, but I haven't heard if this is planned or not.

        For those that haven't read any of Lois's work, you can get one of her short stories for free at the Baen Free Library [] -- The Mountains of Mourning. I heartily recommend it.

      • I most definately second that about Vorkosigan, there's a few of the books that aren't easy to get ahold of that I'd really like to read, and I'm definitely going to buy the next one.

        Also, cool to see a chick post on slashdot :)

        • Also, cool to see a chick post on slashdot :)

          I'm here a lot, but unlike many Slashdotters (and Slashsons) only speak up when I actually have something to say.

          Also, note my ID number...I've been here rather a long while.

    • I haven't read any of Weber's stuff myself, but based on shelfspace, word-of-mouth, and rec.arts.sf.written I'd say right now he IS a huge name in sf. Not Asimov-huge, but easily among the most popular contemporary sf writers.
    • Re:God, if only (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Calmiche ( 531074 )
      Okay, let's try this again, hopefully with a more informed aproach. First, I am going to be VERY anxious to see the results of sales on these books. Eric Flint has been working for quite some time to try and dispel the ridiculous idea that distribution of e-books hurts sells. That is just plain ludicrous. The more advertising an author can get, the more he can sell. It dosen't matter that he looses a few sales. In fact, to use one of Eric Flint's own arguments, it dosen't even count as a lost sale! To be counted as a lost sale, the person 1.) Has to have the money to buy the book. 2.) He has to want to buy the book and 3.) He has to choose not to buy the book in favor of getting a pirated copy. Now, let's look at that. That rules out the kids and everyone who dosen't have the cash. That is not a lost sale, even if they pirate the book and read it.They wouldn't have bought it anyway! In fact, by allowing pirated copies, the authors and publishing companies are gaining invaluable advertising at no cost to themselves. There is no printing or distribution fee, no payment to rent shelfspace in bookstores and no advertising costs. Now, this kid with a pirated copy does 2 things. First, he passes the book on, especially if he liked it. In fact, this is how I heard about many of my favorite authors. Someone loaned me a book. (Almost the same thing as pirating, according to some very narrow minded authors and publishers.) Second, the kid grows up. I found Robert A. Heinlein's books when I was 11 years old. At that time I did NOT have the cash to buy any of his books, so I bought used copies from used bookstores and checked them out of the library. (Again, some narrowminded publishers and authors see both used bookstores and library to be evil and a form of piracy. A way of loosing sales.) Since I was a child, I now own close to 90 copies of Robert A. Heinlein's stories. Many of them are doubles copies, or even triples. I've given away at least 50 and probably closer to 70 copies of different novels as birthday presents or just to friends. In fact, I bet that I have spent close to $1000 over the last 10 or 15 years, just on Heinlein novels. Does that count as lost sales? Personally, I have at least 2,000 pulp novels in my house, which adverages out to about $15,000 I have spent on books so far. I usually spend about $100 a month or so on new books. I read at least a book a day, and sometimes two a day, and one of the things that makes me angry is to go out and spend $7 or $8 for a paperback, or $20+ for a hardback, and not like the book well enough to read it. I also own close to 3,000 e-books. In fact, that is how I ran across John Ringo himself. I found him on the Baen Free Book Library. (A Hymn Before Battle.) I downloaded the book onto my palm, read it in one day, and then went out the next day and bought as many of his books as I could find in the local bookstore, including several in hardback. I spent more that $60 in one trip. Would I have found John Ringo without that free book? Maybe, but not very likely. There were several other books that I was considering buying. Now, the other way around. I also downloaded David Drake's "With the Lightnings" from the Baen site, and really disliked it. I felt that it was badly written and not a very good book. Yet, I did not pay money for it, and so I do not feel cheated. It was the first book by David Drake that I had read, and if I had bought it, I probably never would have bought anything by him again, ever. Instead, I downloaded a different book, "Old Nathan", and loved it. I have since bought several of his books. Does it count as a lost sale if I don't buy "With the Lightnings"? What about the gained sales from the other books I bought later? Don't those count? Okay, moving on.. No, I do not think that electronic books will ever take the place of pulp books, but I do think that they have a strong place in the library of any reader. There are many good readers out there, including many PDA's. (you probably need one of the color ones though. The green or black and white ones don't have good enough definition.) I personally use a Palm m505, which cramps my fingers, but the battery lasts about 12 hours, or 7 hours with the backlight on. One of the best of the e-book readers I have ever seen was the Gemstar REB 1100 []. The battery lasts about 25 hours with the backlight on, it is about the same size as a paperback novel, (And about the same weight.) And it has a USB interface to connect to a computer. It's got an 8 meg internal memory (Holds about 16 books) and takes Smart Media cards. (Up to 128 meg or about 260 large e-books) My final point is a simple one. I have about 140 files on my computer written by Robert A. Heinlein. Many of these works are out of print. How else would I be able to read them, if not for the wonder of e-books? Oh, and David Weber is one of my favorite authors. I have almost every single one of his books, most of them in hardcover.
  • by 11390036 ( 158863 )
    I think this is a good precedent.

    Firstly, I love value. If I percieve value, I'm more inclined to want. I think this is true among most any shopper though.

    I think *all* content is moving toward the direction of free, or very inexpensive.

    Think about distribution costs.

    Cost of DVD presing materials + cost of pressing DVDs + warehousing + shipping = a lot of costs to recoup in product cosot

    Compare with internet or electronic distribution.

    Cost of maintaining 1 copy available to purchasers + cost of delivery (cost of internet connectivity)

    Its WAAAAY cheaper!

    Its good to see this revolution happening.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, if you're shipping a lot of units, it's a lot cheaper to press and mail DVDs than to send the same amount of data on the Net. Net traffic costs US$4 per gigabyte. If you can press a million DVDs or even CDs, it's cheaper to do that and then physically deliver them than to send the data over the Net.

      Where the Net really shines is for small runs. If you sell 50 copies of your new album, it's cheaper to transmit them over then Net than to try to do a physical CD run that size. The economies of scale are all backwards, and that's why the Net is so scary to big media interests: it favours small players.
      • Actually, if you're shipping a lot of units, its still cheaper for electronic distribution.

        $4/gig is the "retail" cost of a gig (through a webhosting company), they can be had for much cheaper;

        What I am trying to argue is this: There are FAR more costs to selling & distributing using DVDs or CDs vs electronic delivery. Think man hours, people boxing things together; equipment used for pressing the optical media; shipping costs to deliver a product to a store or individual; all of the costs associated with maintaining a retail store (if that is where it is ultimately sold). This list goes on.

        Even at $4/gig its still cheaper than say:
        a dollar for blank media
        cost of writing equipment (hardware & sw)
        cost of any person that comes in contact with the manufacturing process
        cost of design and the actual packaging......

        The "physical" method is more effective for large runs because the equipment costs are so high.

        The net does shine for small runs; it shines for *any* run.
        The net also has leveled the playing field... its like the american dream, there is opportunity there.

    • This has probably been argued before, but whether you are doing traditional distribution or electronic distribution (especially if its movie and music titles), there are specific costs that can not be minimized. Product promotion for example can far outweight the simple cost for the distribution chain.

      Whats more, with an electronic distribution scheme for high bandwidth content. You likely will be providing more than 1 copy, and certainly more than 1 location (internet geography) so your subscribers can d/l them. Providing and maintaining all of the infrastructure to not only provide the machines, space (physical and disk), as well as the outgoing pipe for all of this wonderful content to be delivered at a satisfactory rate. Let's say that all of this happens with a minimum of fuss and the numbers work out... When the content gets to your home then what happens? You probably won't be satisified with just watching the stream once. For me, I would probably like to have it archived in some way. Leave it on a HD? How many movies can I stuff into a HD? (Remember, we are talking about using E-distribution as the main distro medium) Maybe I will just use the HD as sort of "nearline" and burn a copy. Now there is going to be the cost of the burn medium, burner, as well as the time to sit and burn the darn thing (add cost of upgrades and maintenance, blah, blah, blah). Nah, I am pretty happy with having it delivered already on a pressed disc.

      IMHO, what publishers can improve on is exactly what BAEN has done. Make the material sans-encryption. The cost for the encryption, macro-media and all that crap drives up the cost per disc. If the cost of DVD is dropped to about $9.00. I would run out and buy everything that I like (and probably even features that I marginally favor)...
      • The point I'm making is that electronic distribution is overall cheaper.

        If the "job" of actually recording a disk is moved from manufacturer to consumer, boom costs go down.

        There are some particulars about how to manage your content. With data storage and transfer becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous, time will make electronic distribution more and more viable.

        Yes there will probably be multiple locations for files, making a digital replica is extremely easy opposed to producing packaging and a disk containing the media. Its still cheaper.

        Streaming huh? Why not just allow the user to keep a copy of what they paid for? Why not? It would make me buy, plus it wouldn't be so much of a logistical nightmare. There will be companies that work with "stream only" content though, I still think its cheaper.

        Why couldn't a DVD player have an ethernet plug & a HD? Why not?
  • by puto ( 533470 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @10:57AM (#4007877) Homepage
    Normally I would agree with you but when you hit your local bookstore and see the crap that the 'bestseller' list is rife with. Jackie Collins, Romance Novels, abd other shite, it makes you wonder if there is any correlation to talent or if the General reading public is truly a good representation to judge what is quality literature.

    An Oprah Winfrey endorsement or even the book of the month club deal can drives sales up on what would normally be something that should be consigned to the bargain table at the end of the summer, or suitabale for wrapping fish. And we all know that Oprah is one of the literati. What kind of lemmings mentality have we come to where Oprah Winfrey can have a staff member read a book, tell the the Big O, Oprah, and the endorsement sells millions?

    My point is that digital publish is great. I love it. Opens the medium to get more people reading. Although, as a newtwork engineer d00d I prefer to have the book in my hand than read it on a PDA. Call me retro. Can't imagine a long snooze in the tub with the good old PDA in hand.... I can always dry the book out.

    And then taste is in the mouth, eyes, mind of the beholder. I for one look at the best seller lists and shudder. And to be fair, I will buy one at least once a month and read it, and sometimes I will be pleasantly surprised. Other times I choose to cringe in horror in the closet for a few days.

    As for sci-fi. Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling seem to carry on the tradition well. Hard stuff with a sense of humor that is quite beleivable in a not so distant future. Allen Steel with this Moon backs a few years back were great as well. But I find more self on an ever increasing hunt for really good sc fi. How many Enders Game sequels can we have? Gibson needs to get off his ass and back to the Sprawl.

    My point to this entire rant is that we need some quality to put on the medium for the would be publishers just start putting everything on to the insnanely popular shiny metal discs we all must have in our caves,homes. A bad book is a bad book no matter what the format.

    I can't wait to get my DVD of the Ya Ya Sisterhood special edition with cutscenes, the book, the script, so I can put it on my Palm and have all the Ya Ya goodness whereever I go.

    Put all the classics on the medium first. There is nothing worse than being on a plane or a trip with nothing to read, than having something bad to read.

    • Have you read any of Weber's Honor Harrington series? I think they're great as long as you keep in mind that they are truly of the "space opera" genre. Having them all on one CD will be very handy!

    • As for sci-fi. Neal Stephenson and Bruce Sterling seem to carry on the tradition well.

      I've read three or four of Sterling's novels. I found them all boring, and sold them. I do greatly enjoy his non-fiction. I wish he'd write more.

      Allen Steel with this Moon backs a few years back were great as well.

      Thanks for the tip! I'll check it out.

      But I find more self on an ever increasing hunt for really good sc fi. How many Enders Game sequels can we have?

      Amen, brother. Ender's Game was great. The first sequel, with those Portugese midgets, was so boring except for a few stretches around Ender. I couldn't read the others. I tried Ender's Shadow when it came out. Okay -- I'm constantly on the verge of selling it, but haven't yet. Couldn't bear the thought of reading the new one in this series.

      Gibson needs to get off his ass and back to the Sprawl.

      This one's too sensitive for me to touch still. I'm hoping that things will pick up now that he's done with the VL-I-ATP trilogy.
    • Stephenson? Gibson? Aiiieee.

      Well, OK. "Snow Crash" I liked for a literary snack. "Cryptonomicon" bothered me as sprawling, and with having a certain strange continuity problem (namely, a character who at one point dies in.. Finland? but is still active later...). "The Diamond Age" had some interesting characters, but a rambling plot and completely gratuitous sex.

      Gibson hasn't impressed me either -- "Neuromancer" seemed a bit shallow, and his short works (e.g. the one that got turned into the regretably unforgettable trash "Johnny Mnemonic") haven't struck me as anything special, either.

      I suppose I'm more of a fan of John Brunner (notably, "Stand on Zanzibar" and "The Shockwave Rider"), KSR ("Red|Green|Blue Mars"), and a smattering of others ("A Canticle for Leibowitz", "The Stars My Destination" {a.k.a. "Tiger Tiger!"}, "Brave New World", "1984") and so forth. Gaiman got my interest with "Neverwhere" enough to try a second look ("American Gods").

      'k. That's not much, but my tastes are pretty odd at times; I'd sacrifice laser beams, cheesy "vision" and other flashy technology for intriguing characters and deep plots most days of the week. Some of those particular choices probably appeal to the Kafka / Dostoevsky / Camus fan in me.
    • Many people don't realize that best seller lists are restricted. For example, the NY Times best seller list automatically excludes all religous books. I learned this several years ago when some scandal book made the list and editorialists were bemoaning the sad state of America. It turns out that the pope had just published a book that was far outselling the scandal book. But because it was a religous text, it was excluded.

      Similarly it has been reported that some children's best seller lists are reworking their rules to exclude Harry Potter books. The Potter books were pushing other books off the children's lists, to appease the book sellers the rules are being changed.

    • by Triv ( 181010 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @01:14PM (#4008352) Journal
      it makes you wonder if there is any correlation to talent or if the General reading public is truly a good representation to judge what is quality literature.

      I posted this somewhere on slashdot before, but I'll reiterate: I used to work as a supervisor at Barnes & Noble. Believe me when I tell you that their bestseller list is nothing but marketing and hype.

      The best example I can give you of this (apart from the Oprah list you already mentioned) is something Barnes & Noble calls "Out of the Box Bestsellers" - essentially meaning that, based on the popularity of an author and "how many copies have been pre-ordered from the distributors" (IE: how popular B&N wants to make it) a book will hit their bestsellers list BEFORE it's EVER sold a copy. Amy Tan's "Bonesetter's Daughter" was like that. Let's see...Tom Clancy, Rowling and Mary Higgins Clark were all like that as well.

      • I'm sure your career stocking shelves at Barnes & Noble was exciting and lucrative, but you clearly don't understand what's going on there.

        I don't care how popular you say it is, or isn't, I'll buy pretty much anything that's actually written by Tom Clancy, just put it somewhere that I'll notice it. Same with any number of other authors (Amy Tan, John Irving, Dale Brown, Stephen Hawking).

        It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if N copies of every book by a certain author sell in month 1, for the past 5 books, that the next book is also going to be a bestseller, whether or not it's any good.

    • Put all the classics on the medium first. There is nothing worse than being on a plane or a trip with nothing to read, than having something bad to read.

      They are. Every major book of English literature printed prior to 1923 is available from Project Gutenberg. If you aren't in a mood to download your own copy and burn it, there are cheap ripoff CD's available from Ebay or your local Hastings or the like. (Sadly, no one seems to sell an official PG CD any more.)
    • Well, check out Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Start with Partners in Necessity, an omnibus version of the first three books that is easier to find than it's components.

      Or you can try (suprise!) David Weber and John Ringo (either alone or in collaboration).

      David Weber, in particular, managed something that really impressed me. He became my favorite science fiction author (a title Asimov, Clarke, Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven fought over for a long time). Though he only has one book in my all-times-best list (Path of the Fury), the only thing he ever wrote that I don't care much for is the Dahak series. And there is *NO* book out there that I have *EVER* heard that beats Honor Harrington in space combat.

      • And there is *NO* book out there that I have *EVER* heard that beats Honor Harrington in space combat.

        Ever read anything by E. E. "Doc" Smith?

        The Lensmen series is his best known work, and has some great space battles, but my favorite (probably because I read when I was a child) has always been the older Skylark series. Doc Smith pretty much defined the "space opera" battlefield in his stories.

        BTW, if you do read the Skylark series, put on your historical perspective glasses first. All but the last book in the series were written pre-WWII, and the first one in particular have some serious cheerleading for eugenics--a popular, progressive trend-of-the-future back in the 1920s and 30s, but cringe-inducing post-WWII, after we saw what the Nazis did with it.

    • Just to mention- You aren't going to be seeing any new books from the Sprawl, at least not by William Gibson. I believe he died last year. There was a recent article on his collection of Pulp sci-fi magazines being donated to the University of Calgary.
  • Baen Free Library (Score:3, Informative)

    by Damiano ( 113039 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @11:11AM (#4007907)
    Baen Books also has 40 books available for free at Baen Free Library [] in HTML, Palm, RTF and other formats. Check it out.

  • I can't remember how many HH books I've read - A friend buys them, and passes them around (Is this a copyright violation? :) ). It's not life-changing-I-can't-believe-it SF, but it's an OK read untill Vinge/ Varley(Irontown Blues?) /Nagata /Rucker /etc... release something I'm willing to pay the $$$ for.
    • I've just bought it.

      I don't know how many SF books I've collected, but I find that the HH series is the one I re-read the most. I love the idea that I can get them all on the CD, and think this is an innovative move by the publisher!

      In fact, given the clumsiness of any e-reader, this will probably boost their sales of the older books.
  • books vs software (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PineGreen ( 446635 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @11:22AM (#4007951) Homepage
    Jim and many of his writers are advocates of this kind of promotion, dismissing talk about piracy as paranoia.

    Well, regardless of how much I hate DMCA and similar crap, the point is that the book costs a few dollars and it is much nicer to read from a paper form, while a copy an important piece of software costs hundereds and is equally useful, regardless of whether you have the original or a copy.

    My point is that book writers can only boost their sales by giving free electronic copies away, while software companies not neccessarily so.

    • ...while a copy an important piece of software costs hundereds and is equally useful, regardless of whether you have the original or a copy.

      False. Pirated software could contain viruses or trojans, and may not be eligible to recieve bug fixes or updates. And why should it cost hundreds of dollars when it's cheaper to produce a CD then it is to produce a paper book?

      My point is that book writers can only boost their sales by giving free electronic copies away, while software companies not neccessarily so.

      Perhaps you should think about why Adobe makes it so darn easy to copy Photoshop, or why an official Quake 3 patch disabled the CD check.

      • "And why should it cost hundreds of dollars when it's cheaper to produce a CD then it is to produce a paper book?"

        I think you've got it all wrong. Burning pre-existing data on a CD is cheap. Producing a CD -- going from an empty source repository to the finished CD that you buy in the store -- that's what takes money. A novel is the end-result of a year (or less) of effort by a single person. Most commercial software is the end-result of a year or more of work by an entire team of highly skilled people.

        • No, you're looking at it from the wrong side. You're thinking about it how much it takes to produce the entire batch of programs. But price is determined by a combination of marginal cost (cost to produce the next unit AKA price to copy the CD) and the buyer's willingness to pay. Given a marginal cost of near zero, the only reasonable consideration in selecting the price of a piece of software is the demand curve.
  • Consider that before people were sneaking into movies, they were sneaking into sporting events and plays. I'll be they had gate crashers even in ancient Rome.

    The higher-ups need to take a look at the expense and hassle of an encryption technology, and what losses they reasonably expect if your product were presented in plain ASCII text. Reasonable losses is a concept lost on many MBAs. You base your estimates upon past losses, not upon imagined future losses. For example, one of the software publishing groups takes the number of PCs sold, the number of software titles sold, and since the number of PCs is greater, assumes that their software was installed on all those PCs (and were thus pirated). It never enters their minds that not every PC gets commercial software installed on it, or that PCs break, or that not every software title gets installed on every new PC.

    Fifty years ago, how did publishers deal with pirated works? Why won't those same techniques work now? (Don't give me that line about the new economy. People still buy things, and it's still illegal to pirate copyrighted works.) Why put yourself in the position of being the police force, including the added expense and hassle. If you're still making money, then you're OK. Turn the evidence over to the Feds, and let them handle it (and the expense).

    An easy way to prevent piracy? Make it cheap to be a member who can access eBooks, and provide the eBooks in a variety of formats (including ASCII). Provide a two year free membership for people who turn in other people that are distributing pirated works. Use tiered pricing, where the average person (who is a light reader), can get a title per month for their $20/year fee. For heavier readers, step the price up gently. For libraries and schools, offer a flat, unlimited download fee (like $500/year) but restrict them to one account and password assigned to someone on staff. Talk to the big porn web sites, and find out how they track and identify logins that are fake, or have been shared amongst several users. I'll bet there's a company out there right now that makes software that does access log profiling -- and it wouldn't be that different than the pattern monitoring that many credit card companies offer for tracking purchases.

    I think you can make money at $20/year. There's no printing costs, no distributing, no spoilage, no transportation, and no wasted copies. You can still charge vanity press or estimated low sales authors a fee for "sharing in the risk of publication."

    The simple truth is that you can't make your product popular and easy to use if there are any requirements for its use. The simple fact that it must be decoded so that it can be read means that every watermarking, steganographic, or encryption method will fail (and the DVD/HDTV folks are spending a lot of money trying to ignore this). Until you can inject your works directly into the brain of the consumer, I doubt that you can avoid piracy. (And even then, some pirate will likely figure out how to use the consumer's brain as the master copy for duplication.)

    Be a farmer. Accept that some of the crop is lost every year, and that you've got to make money on the good part of the crop.

    Heck, try my model for a year. If you don't make money, you will at least have a bug-free distribution system.

  • Why? Because I have found that I can never read a book on a screen or for that matter any document more than a couple of pages. A document deserves a printout and if I find that any book is worth reading, I will go out and buy it. After all the ones available free do no cost a king's ransom in print.

    Sadly, it also seems that none of the current thin clients for reading books seem to cut it. They are too iconvenient, sometimes too dim, expensive, limited battery, etc, etc.... I just do not see myself curling up in my easy chair with one of these anytime soon. And I must admit that I am very partial to having lots of books on my bookshelf instead of one electronic reader :) It can be an excellent conversation starter about your tastes, interests, etc.

    After all... nothing beats paper's refresh rate.
    • Yeah, at $5 or $7, a mass-market paperback is so cheap that you wouldn't even be able to print it without paying more just for the ink and paper.

      Some of my friends and relatives thought I was insane to give away [] my physics textbook for free on the web and also self-publish it in dead tree format. Well, having it on the web has been a great sales technique. I just filled an order from a school district in Kentucky for 1000 books, and the only reason they found out about the book was via the web site. As with Baen, my prices are set so that you really can't produce it any cheaper yourself, even if you're satisfied with an unbound stack of single-sided computer output. Well, that's 90% true. I did have one guy at a university in India who decided to produce the book himself rather than buying printed copies wholesale from me. Apparently the local cost of photocopying is low enough that it actually does make sense for him to do this, especially considering how high the shipping costs would have been.

      • Indian reprints (am talking official reprints from Publishers) are cheaper than the US counterpart by a factor of 2x-10x. For example, with computer books like O Reilly, Knuth, Stevens, etc, something costing $70 here will cost $7 there (Steven's TCP/IP Illustrated for example). Binding and paper quality is not that great but not those many people can pay Rs. 4500 for a good text book and so this is the route all publishers choose.

        Of course these books are meant for the South East Asia market only so don't think about trying to get them imported here unless you have a friend there. Of course I carry a suitcase of them every time I go *grin*.
    • Paper's refresh rate? Umm, I know you're trying to be clever, but I've read more books than I can count on my fingers and toes, and I've never seen a single one of them refresh.

      Lots of people complain about online books not "feeling" like real books. I have no aesthetic attachment whatsoever to books...especially pulp paper gum-bound break after I read them three times paperbacks that are the only ones I am willing to purchase in volume. (For the record, I average three hefty novels a week. Not huge, but after doing that for 15 years, you go through some books...)

      I can not wait for a rugged, backlit, waterproof, reasonably high resolution portable bookreader. I'd gladly put all the paperbacks on my shelf through a shredder in order to get them into a portable format like this. I mean, my God! Who LIKES moving books from place to place? The information density of paper is just stupidly low, and I can't wait to get past it.

      OK, OK, I acknowledge that paper is good for long-term archiving...but none of the books I actually own are printed with that requirement in mind. I have many books that are disintegrating from simple old age.
  • While most americans are probably used to paying sales tax on just about anything, books in the UK are currently zero-rated for purposes of VAT (Value added tax (an oxymoron, because it doesn't add value to anything)) VAT is currently charged at 17.5% of the sale price of a taxable item, although this rate sometimes varies depending on what the item is. (domestic fuel for example is taxed at 5%, and beer at some horrible rate I'd rather not think about).
    However, books that come with CD's do attract VAT at various rates, depending on the value of the CD. I don't know exactly who decides the value of the CD, but if it contains 22 books, it could conceivably have a very high value to some revenue folk. Still cheaper than buying all the books seperately though.
    I only bring this up because I discovered that a linux reference book I have here which had a RedHat 6 CD in the back which I've never even used has got me for over a pound of tax. Free software? Nyet.
    • I've given up on trying to understand the justification for a lot of these policies. As far as I can tell, most are attempts to reduce upward social mobility. Back in the 1970s, we had a joke in America: "The War on Poverty is over. The poor lost."
  • It helps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by christurkel ( 520220 )
    Out of curiosity, I just went to the book store and purchased the first Honor harrington book. So, already this Baen idea has generated sales. Keep it up!
  • Hurray for Baen! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krinsh ( 94283 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @11:57AM (#4008064)
    As a 'book passer/swapper/loaner/etc.', frequent library patron and advocate of learning by reading; I'm very impressed. How many of us have paid for every single book we've read? I don't know about you all, but I hardly buy books from my computer book club, or the local store unless I can get them at a discount. The authors get a cut for each book that doesn't change if the retail provider or publisher offers it at 5-15% off. I love books but my pockets aren't deep enough for a $300 per month reading habit.

    For those of you that like to learn and oftentimes find it hard to spend sixty, ninety, or two hundred plus dollars for your technical books, try your local Ollie's/Odd Lots or other clearinghouses like that. The books are sometimes six months old; but you still get them and they give you good foundations. You can buy 10 for what you may have spent on two in the bookstore. Check out sites like that provide a lot of Que and similar series books for free online. There is a wealth of material there.

    Back to the main topic: those of you that whine about reading electronically sure spend a lot of time in front of a computer playing, writing code, etc.! If it's that hard, start applying yourself to creating readable displays for ebooks and the like...! I read a lot of web material and Adobe E-book reader, as well as Palm format documents in addition to my collection of printed material.
    • More power to ya, But I DO spend about 200$ a month on Books. I LOVE BOOKS, and I will never read a book online that I am NOT FORCED TO. Work may require the use of the CRAPPY PDF format but given the slightest bit of choice I would rather claw my eyes out than be forced to read a pdf.
      I spend hours on my PC playing games and working, why would I want to be locked there to read a book. No smell, no texture, it just is NOT the same thing. I( am whining and I have no intention of switching. If the market pushes that way I will just stop my monthly purchases, the book of the month club, the science fiction book club, etc. Somehow I doubt the publishing industry is going to rush to web-ify everything considering the track record of companies on the net ACTUALLY making money.
      • I love books too. In fact; I can associate those smells like you. I completely agree that printed material is great; and in fact is best. I even print the digital formats that I'm allowed to.

        BUT - I like having stuff on my PDA for reference when working away from my home office; and having other references readily available there on my computer(s) when I want them. I also like to hide in the same office as much as I may sit next to my fireplace with a good printed book [and maybe my tobacco pipe but that's offtopic. So is the fact that I'll argue against 'crappy' PDF format with you any day of the way. Proprietary or not; I like its portability, the ability to build great forms with it that can come over from their printed versions very easily, the ability to process those same PDFs by variables in the files for workflow applications, etc. etc. I think the format is beter than most for applications like these. My first job was as a secretary and I was forced to make electronic forms in WP and Word; when I learned Acrobat years later I felt blessed.]
  • by Pentagram ( 40862 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @12:07PM (#4008102) Homepage
    I'm surprised more authors haven't released books in electronic form. Think of the extra features they could add. Imagine, for example, a DVD version with the text of the book, a reading of the book by the author, interviews, copies of draft versions of the book, an "author's commentary" of notes parallel to teh main text, illustrations etc. "Deleted" scenes, hmm. Biographies of the main characters.

    I'm thinking of several works by several authors I would be interested in buying a "special edition" of.
    • Brad Templeton got most of the fiction authors up for a Hugo [] in 1993 to agree to publish their work on CD-ROM. Vernor Vinge added a pile of notes about the writing of his novel "A Fire Upon The Deep" indexed to the text, giving the reader an insight into how he developed the story and the characters.

    • The other extras you mentioned aside, I would think that few books these days would need a "director's cut." It's not like a book can turn out to be a few pages "too long" (so that it can only be read twice per day instead of thrice?) or describes a sex/violence scene that will get it a NC17 rating instead of R, which will lead to certain chain bookstores not carrying it.

      A lot of the really stupid reasons that gets movies butchered, don't apply to books.

  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @12:22PM (#4008145) Homepage
    It has already been shown that the amount of money an author will typically make off of old books is so small as to be considered insignificant. Even if people obtain copies of the books legitimately, they might loan them from a library, buy them from half-price books or a book faire, or just plop down in B&N and read them there (Starbucks is making a killing).

    To include all the books on CDROM adds no cost to the book (CDs are dirt cheap to mass produce), but it gives the reader an enormous additional benefit. In many cases, someone who actually wants to read the books cover to cover will probably buy them anyway, as books are still rather more convienent for most people than text files are. However, this gives them the opportunity to preview them, and if they DO want to read them via PDA, they have that option.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'll just note that _my_ books that are on the CD I'm still getting royalties on. I don't worry that this will cut those royalties, but don't think of these as the book equivalent of 3DO games, four hundred for $4.95. There are books on that list that aren't even out in _paperback_ yet including one of mine; it's a more comprehensive and current group than the Free Library.

      If this got valued, it would be over a thousand dollars, minimum. You can go out and price almost all these books in a bookstore or from Amazon and find out for yourself if you wish.

      Again, most of these books are currently _in print_ and still making money.

      And now, when people read the first ten chapters of them on the CD and go "I've _got_ to get this book" they will make even _more_ money.


      John Ringo
  • The only question is, whose turn is it to buy the CD this time, and which ftp site should we put it on?
  • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @12:46PM (#4008237) Journal
    They make a very big point about how everything is in rtf format. Pretty amazing. Sounds like they're trying to get the nudge, nudge, wink, wink, piracy thing going -- a la Adobe and Microsoft.

    I see two things happening because of this. Weber gets a lot more popular because of his books being plastered all over Kazaa. His sales go way up. Frankly, it sucks to read a book on a computer screen, so people will go out and buy a copy if they like it. It's even better than the mp3 quality vs. audio quality CD thing.

    Number 2, a lot of people get used to books being in an electronic, computer-readable format. Just like they got used to mp3s. Will help the e-book industry take off -- if book publishers are smarter than the RIAA. And they are, don't kid yourself about that.
    • They make a very big point about how everything is in rtf format. Pretty amazing. Sounds like they're trying to get the nudge, nudge, wink, wink, piracy thing going

      I think it's more the fact that they aren't going to make you jump through hoops to read it. Here it is, you can read it anywhere, with no clunky proprietary reader to get in your way.
    • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Sunday August 04, 2002 @08:59PM (#4009809) Homepage
      They make a very big point about how everything is in rtf format. Pretty amazing. Sounds like they're trying to get the nudge, nudge, wink, wink, piracy thing going


      They don't want you to pirate their stuff. They want to be paid. What planet are you on right now?

      They are being nice. They could have picked one format that is loaded down with tons of Digital Rights Management junk. Instead they skipped the DRM junk and released their books in unencrypted files. Just to make sure it is convenient for you, they release each book in five different formats: HTML, RTF, Palm Doc, Rocket eBook, and MS Reader.

      The books that they put in the "Free Library" are free as in beer. You can make copies and hand them out to your friends. By the way, the first two books in the Honor Harrington series are in the Free Library. That's how I got hooked on HH.

      Please don't pirate Baen ebooks. It's biting the hand that is being nice to you.

      • You completely ignored the reason I gave for the piracy: It is good advertising which results in more sales.

        You got hooked on HH because of free books. You bought more because of free books. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, piracy accomplishes the same thing, especially when a better version is available at some cost. People who acquire the inferior version for free will often spend money for the better version. If those people would never have bought the book in the first place without the piracy, you have made a sale because of piracy.

        These books are being made available on CD because Weber knows that he is no longer making a great deal of money from older books. He feels that any resultant priacy will actually result in a net gain for him.
        • You are claiming that just because they didn't lock down the books with DRM junk, that they want their books to be pirated. I claim they would rather be paid.

          I'm sure they know there will be a certain amount of piracy, but it's a huge leap from that position to saying they are hoping for it!

          Did you ever consider that pirate versions would get out in the wild whether they lock the books down or not? It only takes one person cracking the encryption, and a free text version is in the wild. Locking books down with DRM junk doesn't really protect them; it chiefly inconveniences the paying customers, not the pirates. I submit that no rational publisher would go out of its way to annoy the customers when it won't serve any useful purpose.

          Back in the 80's, Borland International released a Pascal compiler and several other products without copy protection, and at fair prices. Most people, rather than pirating the products, just bought them. These were not older products that they were no longer making a great deal of money upon; these were their bread-and-butter products that they depended on for revenue. Do you think they were hoping for rampant piracy of their stuff? I sure think not.

          • You keep dodging the main point--that piracy of electronic versions of these books will actually increase sales.

            To put it as simply as possible:
            Piracy -> Free Advertising (like the Baen free book library) -> David Weber making more money.
            • Your main point was:
              Sounds like they're trying to get the nudge, nudge, wink, wink, piracy thing going
              Maybe piracy will lead to increased paper book sales, but I really don't think that they are trying to get piracy going, and you haven't come up with any arguments that convince me otherwise.

              And I for one hope that the ebooks actually sell well; there are many times when I would like an ebook rather than a paper one, and I hope future titles will be available. If there is rampant piracy of current titles, they might decide the experiment was a failure and stop releasing ebooks.

  • I was involved in the Schmitz project, and have been watching events at Baen. Eric Flint indicates that the underlying idea is similar to that followed by some drug kingpins--free samples to hook the user. It seems to be working.
  • its not a library (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 04, 2002 @01:13PM (#4008348)
    the "Baen Free Library" is not a library. They remove the books posted online at any time they feel like, and prevent authors from posting more than 5 or 6 of their works. The intention of this is to promote variety (so their more prolific authors don't drown out the others, presumably because you would see 100 books by one author and completely miss a first novel by another.)

    Am i criticising their actions? No. Do I demand their release all their books to the public domain--now? No. This is just a semantic criticism, which might seem obtuse to invoke over a slashdot post, but which seems fairly warranted given the source, a publisher, and their intention, marketing.

    What they have is a sample area designed to increase sales Kindof like when you get HBO free for a weekend. Good for them.

    But it's not a library. A library is a repository of knowledge where you can go to find things. I'm not being a snob. You could have a library of science fiction, even of books published by one publisher. Libraries just don't change to suit the marketing needs of publishers.
  • Does anyone else HATE reading books on the computer? I have to turn the contrast way down or my eyes feel like they're bleeding. Even then I can only last a few minutes at a time. Give me plain old paper over a flickering, bright, harsh monitor screen any day.

    • If your monitor is flickering, overly bright, and harsh, you need to

      a) get a better monitor
      b) get a better video card
      c) adjust your image

      There is no excuse for a poor image or a refresh rate below 75-80 at the bare minimum.
    • I read a lot of books online, and always on my laptop. reading from a CRT makes my eyes tired. I generally read in links in an xterm (no graphics, and no font issues)

      Being able to get softcopy books is great, I have WAY too many paperbacks cluttering my little house as is...

      And with dual batteries (11+hour life) and 802.11b networking, I can still read from the couch...

      links: inks/
    • Re:great, but (Score:2, Informative)

      by Garath ( 148944 )
      I used to feel the same way, then I tried reading on my new laptop - the LCD screen is much nicer.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    let me check my m500-
    current count:
    100+ ebooks on my palm. I read many of the free ones first and then was hooked. Some of the books I purchased I have already read in paper form, but I travel a lot, and read fast. Now, everywhere I go, I can pull out my portable library, and save myself from carrying around 4-5 books for a week away.
    what makes Baen's model a favorite for me, is the book bundles you can buy by the month. (say that 10 times fast) I feel much better about paying 3-4 dollars a book in electronic form than I do about paying full price. no paper/distribution costs- no surcharge.
    What I like least is the way books are put on out of series sequence. there are several books that I bought a while ago that I have not read yet because I am waiting for books earlier in the series to be put online.
    there is still some bumps to be worked out, but all in all, I am a happy customer.

  • For me, having the CD-ROM would be like those "check out the first chapter of 's new book!" sections at the back of a lot of novels. You get just a taste, and that encourages you to buy the whole novel. I realize he has the whole novel on there, but I wouldn't be able to stand reading a book on a computer screen. I'd break down and buy the mass market paperback after the first chapter or so. I can't curl up in bed on a lazy Saturday morning with a monitor!
    • I've read as many of David Weber's books as I can find, some electronically, some paper. This way I can read all of them, and I don't have to wait until I can afford them all, though I'l buy them anyway eventually, paper books rule!
  • I work at a small, independant, science fiction and fantasy bookstore. In fact, I'm there right now (although I'll admit I'm not really 'working' at the moment...). And so I know better than many exactly what the state of science fiction in America is. And, unfortunatly, it isn't great.

    The bookstore I work at, The Stars Our Destination (url:, has been around since the early 1990s and has seen sci-fi falter and, unfortunatly, decline somewhat. It's not that things aren't being written. It's that people aren't getting published. Far to many publishers have been gobbled up into huge corperations and are now in the market to make money, not books.

    So instead of publishing a whole lot, like they used to, they're now (for the most part) publishing only books they think will make money. And this usually means books that are very (often painfully) similar.

    I admit, this isn't *always* the case. There are dozens of very small presses who still try and get good stuff out that may not look as profitable as some of the cookie-cutter novels being published. But, all too often, it's the same old shit being published.

    I think this (including a CD with the latesr _Honor_ book) is a great idea. If for no other reason, it's unique. As I said, a lot of crap is lining the shelves. An eye-catcher could mean the difference between a sale and picking up a different book.

    In their latest reprinting, some of the _Sandman_ graphic novels come with a free CD. Rather than extra _Sandman_ content (which would be *really* cool) the CDs contain 400+ pages of other DC best-sellers. Not complete comics, but really nifty teasers. The free CD with the _Honor_ book isn't exactly the same thing, but it's another way to get closer to the consumer; to be able to get the buyer to see material they otherwise wouldn't.

    So. I don't think this CD will make or break the book. But I think it will only help sales. And this is speaking both as a consumer of sci-fi, and a seller.


    PS: Please visit our website,! We do mail order anywhere on Earth! The little bookstores need your business!
    • It's kind of scary - ten to fifteen years ago, I'd prowl used bookstores and snap up classic sci-fi from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, for a dollar here, seventy-five cents here. Occasionally I'd indulge and buy a hardcover for a few dollars.

      Recently, I dropped by several used bookstores (it took some work to find them, as a good many have closed down locally), and found almost NO sci-fi/fantasy, and what was left was expensive - $3-4 for an old mouldering paperback, $5-6 for a used current paperback, $15-16 for a hardcover. I can buy NEW books (on sale, or remaindered) for cheaper than used books now!

      I talked to some of the owners and they pretty much agreed - scfi/fantasy is more or less dead - not much new publishing these days. As someone who grew up reading Damon Knight, Robert Heinlein, Fred Saberhagen, Clifford Simak, Alan E. Nourse, I was shocked that many books have never been reprinted (try finding a hardcopy of A for Anything, or Simacralon-3.) There is one dedicated scifi/fantasy used bookstore in Los Angeles area that I know of in Sherman Oaks (Dangerous Visions?) - I guess everyone else gave up carrying their sections.

      Lord knows how the local libraries are going to find replacements for their collections when their paperbacks fall apart, or when some idiot librarian decides that some classics aren't being read enough, so they just junk them. Without new younger readers to buy from the genre, the decline in purchasing interest can only get worse :(
      • Me again. Hate to toot my (well, my bookstore's) horn, but you're being overcharged for used books. We resell used books for half the cover price (minimum price is set at $1.50, though). That means most used paperbacks are, max, $4, and usually less. (Our pricing policy is across the board, except for some very specific titles that are more.) Hardcovers aren't as cut-and-dry, but the general rule of thumb is about a third of the cover price, meaning you should never see a used book over $10.

        I know most places do charge more. But they're all wrong. =)


        PS: Hate to do this, but plug again:, we do wonderful mail order business, and are more than happy to look through a list of books to see what we have in used. So please! Buy more books!
        • What the other guy was complaining of (high usedbook prices, a dearth of SF/F) is a California thing. I too am appalled at the cost of used books here -- California in general, and Los Angeles in particular, has *very* few usedbook stores, and so far I've only found *one* (in Quartz Hill, still a "small town") that sells 'em at 50%.

          Conversely the midwest is lousy with usedbook stores, and none charges over 50% of cover price (if they want to stay in business!!) Even in podunk farm towns, low-price usedbook stores feed off one another, and do their best business when there are 3 or 4 on the same block!! (Probably because people who shop in one also shop in all the others on the same trip! Books are an addiction. :)

          While we're horn-tooting (I'm looking at your site even as I type this :) another good online seller for both new and used books is in Oregon -- largest bookstore on the planet, low shipping costs, generally good prices.

          Wandering back to the nominal topic... with an author I already buy everything from (frex, L.M.Bujold, Jack Vance, Craig Thomas) -- I also suck up ebooks whenever and wherever I can find them, because my aging eyes prefer the computer screen to the printed page, and because I have too many fragile first editions that I no longer dare handle and can't be replaced. So if a fave author appears as a complete collexion on CDROM, in an unencumbered format, at a reasonable price, I'll be first in line waving my wallet.

          But I'll still buy deadtree versions whenever I can, because.. well, it's like having a really good quality backup. :)

  • just found alt.binaries.e[-]books.*
  • The first two books in the Honor Harrington series (On Basilisk Station and The Honor of the Queen) are available in the Baen Free Library. You can download them and read them for free, or just read them from a web browser.

    Reading those two books was enough to get me hooked on Honor Harrington, and I have bought all the rest. I bought them all as ebooks, from Baen. (I'm sure David Weber would be happy to hear that, since for ebook sales Baen pays authors double the paper-books royalty.) []

  • Just in the past couple months I got turned onto the HH books via the Baen Weblibrary. I read the first two on my PDA (the Diamond Mako (aka Psion Revo Plus) has a nice crisp screen for reading and the free MobiPocket reader is a nice interface). However, I'm one of those people who don't buy all that many books as I would soon go broke if I bought all the books I want to read, and have been getting the rest of the series from the library. So Baen hasn't made any money off me yet. But this is a big temptation, and I'll probably head to B&N and buy it as soon as it's available. So just by adding a CD that didn't cost them very much, Baen is going to get some of my business.
  • by Autonomous Crowhard ( 205058 ) on Monday August 05, 2002 @01:03AM (#4010425)
    Who on Earth wants to try to jump into a series on the 22nd book? Nobody! This is why Baen is releasing all the earlier books.

    Take a look at the other books that they are releasing. They are all the first one or more books in a series. The idea is to get people to read a book that they would never have read. If they are interested in the series they will pick up the entire series. That's right, the entire series.

    If you have a ten book series and you liked the first book, are you about to go out and buy the next 9 without getting a copy of the first one? No.

    When you get down to it, this is brilliant way to increase readership in series that would otherwise get very few new people. This has nothing to do with the battle between electronic books and paper books. It's about Baen using their brains to make money instead of trying to legislate the money into their pockets.

    • Who on Earth wants to try to jump into a series on the 22nd book? Nobody!
      At the risk of drifting offtopic or being accused of trolling, are there any series that truely continue to have something to say when they get to the 22nd book, rather than being written mostly to satisfy the series' existing fans?

      (Sure it's a matter of personal opinion, but it's been years since I felt motivated to pick up the latest release of the Diskworld franchise, though I still find the earlier part of the series worth a reread from time to time.)

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