Category Archive for ‘ebooks’

Bargain Electronic Blades!

Posted on March 12th, 2013 in ebooks, news

I fully expect that many regular readers of this blog will already have enjoyed the mind-expanding pleasure that is the act of reading The Blade Itself.  But if any of you are still considering a purchase, or perhaps are interested in supplementing your well-thumbed dead-tree editions with one of these new techno e-thingies what everyone’s talking about these days, I note that for the next couple of weeks, up until the 26th March, that classic of modern fantasy The Blade Itself is available for a mere £1.99.  It’s true for the kindle edition.  It’s true on iBooks too.  It may well be true everywhere!  In the UK, anyway.

The big publishers have tended to impose relatively stiff rules on the pricing of their ebooks in order to protect their hardcover markets (at least I assume that’s what they think they’re doing) which has led to some profoundly odd pricing structures with enormously discounted hardcovers and stubbornly inflexible (and on occasion higher) ebook prices, but under the bitter onslaught of reality things are gradually loosening up, I’m pleased to say.  Contribute to the revolution and strike a blow in the cause of righteousness by buying huge numbers of discounted copies of my books now!  Or something.

Huge Discounts! Hmmm.

Posted on October 15th, 2012 in ebooks, news, opinion, process, reviews

Good news!  Red Country is out in the UK in three days time!

More good news!  It’s an amazon book of the week, and they’ve slash, slash, slashed the price of the hardcover to an it-should-be-criminal £7.64, that’s 55% off, or a saving of a stonking £9.35 on the RRP of £16.99.  It’s a fair bit cheaper than the mass market paperback RRP will be when it comes out.  £7.64 seems to me a fantastic price for a beautiful brand new hardcover, especially a book of this incontestably extremely high quality.  Just look at Simon Appleby’s BookGeeks review of it:

“Bloody, unheroic, compelling – Red Country is all of these things, a real page-turning fantasy. Abercrombie co-opts the best elements of the Western without pastiche or mockery, and delivers a massively enjoyable read, combining action and genuine emotion to great effect.”

You like the sound of that?  So do I!  It even has coloured end-papers like some kind of collector’s edition, for heaven’s sake, and it’s a full cup of frothy coffee cheaper than Iain M. Banks’ new hardcover on amazon, even with a meaty 50% discount of its own.  It’s a good four quid cheaper than Peter F. Hamilton’s.  I’m cutting my own throat here.  Or at least amazon are cutting theirs, especially since their normal policy is to refund the difference on a drop in price to everyone who’s pre-ordered the book, so I imagine a good few of you will notch up a refund of a couple of her Majesty’s finest British Pounds along with your purchase.  We’re paying you to read it!  You lucky, lucky consumers!

Slightly less good news.  The kindle edition remains at £8.99.  Which looks kinda silly.  And I can pretty much guarantee there’ll now be a few folks one-starring the book on account of how unfair they feel someone or other’s pricing is, as they have with Banks’ book.  Because e-books cost nothing to make, don’t you know.  Sigh.  On the one hand I think, yeah, the e-book should always be cheaper than the hardcover, and that I’d rather see the e-book a bit cheaper anyway, more round the £7-8 mark on a new book, obviously dropping off over time as the mass-market edition appears to more the £4-5 mark.  On the other I can’t help feeling this shit is really tiresome, that the paper and digital versions are different products, and that the model of heavy discounting on hardcovers is always going to produce some brief anomalies.  If the hardcover weren’t so scandalously discounted, after all, and remained a bit more than the e-book, would anyone complain?  After the week promotion, precisely as happened with Banks’ book, the price will bounce back to a more routine gigantic discount of 35%-40% ish, about a tenner, say, and the kindle edition will once again be a pound cheaper, and I will more than likely be left with a clutch of one-star reviews by folks who haven’t read the book complaining at a nebulous someone’s long-vanished pricing policy, like sea garbage left rotting up the beach after the storm has receded.

Still, what can one do but tiredly express one’s feelings to one’s editor, who can tiredly relay them to their publishing director, who can tiredly relay them to the head of fiction, who can have a monthly tired discussion about it with the board, who can kick it upstairs to guys whose pricing policy is set worldwide in consultation with shareholders and whose decision making processes cannot but move at an utterly glacial pace.  Safe to say, the kindle price of Red Country ain’t likely to be coming down this week, whatever you or I may think about it.

I guess a lot of these pricing issues on e-books, deeply frustrating though they are for writers and readers, will gradually sort themselves out.  Be nice if they sorted themselves out faster, but such is life.  For some time the approach of publishers seems to have been to deliberately make e-books as unattractive as possible in the hope of protecting their hardcover market, and fighting for their lives in an unfamiliar fog as they are, I guess you can somewhat understand their reticence.  But as the e-book sector becomes a bigger and bigger slice of the pie that approach just ain’t going to wash.  The agency pricing model which ensured publishers could keep the prices of e-books high is collapsing in the US, and Europe surely will follow, allowing much greater flexibility on promotions of e-books, currently quite strictly regulated, and opening the door for discounts on e-books even more massive than those on paper ones (since even if the development costs of an e-book are just as high as a paper book, the unit costs are undoubtedly much lower).  On the one hand, yee-ha!  Cheap stuff for consumers!

On the other hand, hmmm.  You can bet the result will be an extension of the tendency towards heavy discounting of the most successful few titles that has been going on over the last couple of decades, since supermarkets and amazon came to dominate the market.  That’s great for the big phenom writers who shift gazillions and are starting to become a standard part of the marketplace.  It’s fine for the established front listers who’ll get the big promotions and the big discounts and the big support, like Iain Banks, and Peter Hamilton, and, well, me, it would appear, fingers crossed.  It’s not so great for the big majority of writers, though, who don’t necessarily sell enough to warrant the big discount or a place on the supermarket shelves, and whose books are going to get progressively more expensive and less competitive.  Even worse, I fear, with margins so squeezed, for new writers, especially those who might be writing something uncommercial, difficult, challenging.  I tend to be optimistic with these things.  Maybe self-publishing really will become the way for new writers to flourish.  No doubt it works for some.  I remain a little dubious, though.

Still, in the meantime, Red Country for £7.64!  Woooooooooooot!

A little later: Amazon sales ranks are an arcane and secretive business, heavily affected by recency, but they’re still quite an interesting indication of what’s selling right now.  This discounting evidently works, and fast, because in the last few hours, Red Country’s Amazon UK sales rank has shot up from somewhere around 300, where it’s been for the past couple of weeks, to 47.

Little Boxed Sets on the Hillside

Posted on August 30th, 2012 in announcements, ebooks

As of today, 30th August, The First Law, a series that pulitzer prize winning author Junot Diaz, no less, described as “the best fantasy trilogy in recent memory” (and he’s famous for his well long memory) should be available throughout the UK in a magnificent boxed set.  Yes indeed, three parchmenty B-Format mass market paperbacks united in sweet harmony within a wonderfully designed war-chest of purest cardboard.  RRP is £27.00, but you may have noticed that a small amount of discounting tends to go on in British bookselling these days, and I observe that amazon.co.uk, for example, have this item on sale for a mere £13.23, a 51% discount.  Why, at that price you’d be a fool not to become the envy of your extensive social circle by buying five and arranging them in an eye-catching pyramid, like this one:

Alright, I’ll admit, I can’t expect everyone to be enough of a true fan to invest in their own First Law Boxed Set Pyramid, even at the ludicrous, knock-down price of £66.15 including free delivery for the entire thing.  Many of you, I must concede, will already own these books.  What may be of more interest is that you can now buy the boxed set on e-book for the even more ridiculous price of £9.99.  Yes, I work that out to be somewhere around 1.5p for every 1,000 words of ultra-high quality genre-defining fiction.  Obviously it doesn’t come in a box, though.  Or perhaps it comes in an electronic box, I’m not sure…

LATER NOTE: Seems to be some confusion on Amazon, with a couple of different entries, some available, some not.  The one which is currently shipping is at the slightly less excellent price of £18.90.

The Blade Itself for £1.99

Posted on August 7th, 2012 in announcements, ebooks

My guess is it’s likely that most regular followers of this blog have already had the profound pleasure, education, and indeed revelation, of reading The Blade Itself.  But just in case the gloom of your life remains unilluminated by its scintillating brilliance, I note that amazon uk are for the next month or so running a little promotion where you can get the kindle edition for the paltry sum of £1.99.  No, not a printing error, not a mistake, £1.99.  That’s less than half price.  You’re picking my pocket.  You’re stealing the food from the mouths of my children.  In order to whet your appetite, I present to you one of the most recent 1 star reviews from the amazon page:

“There is a line between good and evil and this book not only crosses that line, but goes far onto the other side … This books seems to be a symptom of society that previously had morality and traditional values and has gradually moved further and further down the dark path towards greater “freedom” … It saddens me that 86+ people reviewed this book and gave it 5 stars.  So why did I buy it?  There is a romantic element at the moment with movies, games and books about common people, orphans, peasants, poor people, who despite their circumstances are able to become something, whether through a thieves guild or as an assasin using their talents for the greater good.  This book goes in a completely different direction as if we want to become serial killers, I wish I could give it a negative rating!”

Oh, so do I!  But sadly, one star is the lowest rating amazon allows, even for books in which assasins (sic) don’t use their talents for the greater good.  But only imagine, this reviewer had to pay full price to lament the sad slide of all that is moral and traditional into the toilet!  Now you, yes, madam, yes, sir, you, can do the same for a mere £1.99!

The Heroes for Two Bucks?

Posted on November 14th, 2011 in announcements, ebooks

Yes, it’s true, The Heroes is today’s Amazon.com daily deal which means that FOR TODAY (14th November) ONLY lucky Americans can swoop upon the Kindle edition for the cutting-my-own throat daylight robbery price of $1.99.  No, that’s not a misprint.  One dollar ninety-nine cents.  That gives you … let me see … thirty-two violent deaths per cent.

It shouldn’t be legal.  But it is.  Only for today…

The Death of Books

Posted on August 30th, 2011 in ebooks, opinion

Thanks to Chris Wooding for bringing my attention to an excellent and carefully researched article by Lloyd Shepherd over at The Guardian, written in response to the endless doomsaying about the imminent demise of publishing, which pretty much reflects my own much less carefully researched feelings.

Namely that – despite the big trouble in the area of dedicated Brick and Mortar stores that have left Waterstones as pretty much the only big player in the UK and Barnes and Noble in a similar position in the US – there are still a lot more paper books being sold than you might think.  That – despite understandable but in my humble opinion overstated  fears of piracy – as e-readers become mainstream the legitimate e-book market continues to rapidly expand.  That – despite the fact advances are trending downwards overall and it’s never been easy to make big bucks from writing – there’s still, and probably always will be, a good living to be made from good fiction – or even my fiction – and that edgy fantasy ain’t a bad place to be right at the moment, as it happens.

Business is probably going to get tougher.  Margins will get tighter.  Certainly in retail I suspect there will be blood and perhaps some serious redistribution in the medium term.  But I think paper books will be with us as a significant part of the market for some time to come.  And if publishers can learn the lessons of the music industry and see e-books as an opportunity rather than a threat (which many are well on the way to doing), sort out the pricing and the frustrating rights issues, offer products that make use of the unique advantages of e-readers rather than simply emulating the paper versions, and ensure that the majority of readers are willing to pay a fair price for their e-books, the future don’t look so bad to me.

Cheer up.  It might never happen…

As a related addendum, I get a lot of emails these days from folks complaining that they want to give me money but can’t, since they live in Australia, or Dubai, or somewhere else that isn’t the UK or US and therefore are blocked from legitimately paying for and downloading an ebook of mine.  Which seems insane to them.  And kind of is.  I feel your pain, believe me.  I’d really much rather you were paying for that ebook as well, and I continue to agitate as strongly as possible for my books to be available in every language, format, size, scent and colour imaginable.  However, the gears of publishing law grind with excruciating slowness, and ebook rights are still inextricably bound up with paper rights with publishers fiercely guarding territorial borders that should mean nothing to the frontier-less internet.  So it may be a while before all this gets sorted to everyone’s satisfaction.  I remain confident it will be.  Until then, might I suggest you order a hardcover, and get it helicoptered out to you in the jungles of Borneo, or wherever it is you may be?

One of those Weeks

Posted on July 28th, 2011 in ebooks, Other Life

You ever had one of those weeks?  I daresay we all have.  I was geared up to give a nice little optimistic progress report, then my wife got a bit ill, and before you know it she’s been in hospital for a week with an impacted gall stone.  Ouch.  Three children under five?  With my parenting skills?  What were they thinking?  So my brother and his wife came down to help.  Overnight she started feeling ill, and before you know it, she’s in hospital as well!  The veritable bed next door!  Ridiculous.  Then there’s been a veritable cornucopia of delayed joinery, urgent packages stopped by customs and levies charged, contractual wranglings and other such to distract me.  Then two members of my extended family died.

Unbelievable.

Luckily my wife came out of hospital this morning, so hopefully things can return to a normal level of panic.  But work somewhat delayed.  Perhaps we’ll have an optimistic progress report next week.

ON THE SUBJECT OF ENHANCED EBOOKS – some folks have been asking whatever happened to the enhanced e-book of The Heroes that I announced would be coming in January and … hasn’t.  Well, it is coming, but has been delayed by various design and retailer related issues.  Hopefully it will be released alongside the trade paperback of The Heroes in the next coupla months.  Watch this space.

Best Served Cold for $2.99?

Posted on January 7th, 2011 in announcements, ebooks

Yes indeed, my American friends.  Thanks to the dark machinations of my sinister overlords at Orbit, for this month only, e-books of Best Served Cold will be available at the scandalous knock-down promotional price of $2.99!  Nook!  Kindle!  Sony readers and many more!  Stocks are strictly limited, so act now!  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Stocks of e-books are infinite, it’s one of the advantages of the medium.  Follow this link for details…

Enhanced E-Book of the Heroes

Posted on September 12th, 2010 in ebooks, news

So, my enhanced e-book consultation threw up some interesting suggestions.  Several were those who said the digital revolution would only happen over their suppurating corpses.  No problem, for you there will be various paper-based editions.  Several were those who said they would never be interested in extras of any kind.  You are more than welcome, for you there will be straightforward text-based kindle and epub (and probably other format) editions.  For those of you who might have more than a passing interest in fascinating insights into the development of my writing, and of The Heroes specifically, here’s the package we’ve come up with for an enhanced ebook of The Heroes.  Alright, alright here’s the package my editor’s come up with:

  • Full Text of The Heroes
  • Unabridged Audiobook of The Heroes, narrated by Steven Pacey
  • Introduction by the author
  • Afterword by the editor
  • In depth behind-the-scenes interview with the author (in text, audio, and possibly video), covering genesis of the idea for the book, influences, discussion of the six central characters, the writing process, the revision process from plan to completion, the importance of maps, the development of the cover
  • Five maps showing the battlefield, and unit positions at the start of each day of the battle
  • A dramatis personae
  • A 20,000 word planning document, with rough early plans, character sketches, and more detailed plans for each part
  • Several chapters presented at varying stages of revision, annotated by the author to illustrate the editing process
  • Cover file – all the briefs, sketches, and rough versions of the different elements of the cover, and of the combined cover, hopefully with some commentary from the award-winning artists and designer
  • Author biography
  • Links to other interviews and relevant websites and blogs
  • Archive of all blog posts during the writing and editing period
  • In due course, I hope we’ll be able to add The Fool Jobs, a short story featuring characters from The Heroes, though that may not be available until later in 2011

Price point is not decided yet, but we’re probably looking somewhere in the region 0f £20-£30, and before the howls of horror and outrage begin, may I point out the audiobook alone retails for £20.  For those of you not interested in the audiobook, we may also do a considerably cheaper version without it.  I’m interested in the idea some raised of a bookmark that can keep your place between audiobook and ebook, we’ll look into that one.   The possibility of optional hyperlinks to a dramatis personae is also one I’ll bring up.  It may be that the amount of work required to do some of those things would be too great given that this will probably be something of relatively limited appeal.  But it’s an experiment.  We’ll see if there are any takers, and if there’s a market at all we’ll no doubt begin to experiment with pricing and content and refine the concept to make it more attractive.  If it works, enhanced ebooks of Best Served Cold and The First Law, with a similar range of extras, will probably be put out there.  As more sophisticated features become more commonplace, no doubt it’ll become cheaper and easier to incorporate things like interactive maps and glossaries.  I hope so.  But we shall see…

Enhanced E-Books

Posted on May 18th, 2010 in ebooks

E-Books!  The Future!  So bright it blinds me!

Clearly they’re a rapidly growing (and mutating) sector of the market, and publishers and authors are still fumbling their way to a model that makes sense for everyone, as well as trying to find various ways to make new uses of this new technology.

One thing we’d like to experiment with is the possibility of offering, alongside your common-or-garden e-books of The First Law (containing the same text you get when you buy a paper book), enhanced e-books, at a slightly higher price point, containing some manner of additional material.  Exactly what this additional material would be is still a subject of some discussion, which is where you, the book-buying public (and, since you’re here, presumably the book-buying public with a more than passing interest in my work) come in. 

Questions, therefore – Would you have any interest in such a product, and what styles of additional content would persuade you to part with a little more of your hard-earned and give you the sense you got value for money?  Have you ever thought, “man, I wish this e-book included X“.

Incidentally, what you probably won’t get is extra fiction – new chapters and that kind of business.  It’s work time for me that I, my publisher, and almost certainly you as well, would rather I devoted to new books and stories.  But early drafts, deleted bits and pieces, notes and plans, interviews with me and others involved with the project, that type of stuff might well be possible…

Speak to me, O Market.