Enhanced E-Books

May 18th, 2010

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.

Posted in Uncategorized by Joe Abercrombie on May 18th, 2010.

76 comments so far

  • Sean Broderick says:

    For me personally, as much as I love my electronics for everything else, I can’t jump on the e-book / kindle bandwagons. I have amassed quite a collection of books with all the beautiful artwork, etc., and I feel like one of the big things missing from e-books, as silly as it sounds, is the ability to peruse the jacket / cover arts. I could become a believer if those were included (it would be a good way to shuffle through your digital library), but I jsut have too much invested in shelves upon shelves of books, and I enjoy showing them off (even if they are not appreciated by all!).

  • Miguel says:

    I think most are unnecessary. I read 5 or 6 ebooks a month on my kindle and have almost never felt the need to have extras. In fact what I think ebook sellers should worry about is making the ebook experience closer to the traditional physical book.

    That’s doesn’t mean there are not things I would like to see. In epic fantasy books with a lot of characters like your stories, maybe have and index with the “dramatis personae” linked to the actual text. That way when you are reading the book and come upon a name you do not remember, you could click on it and get an instant summary. The perfect example would be reading The Lord of the Rings with the companion already hiperlinked in the text. I would pay more for that.

  • Miguel says:

    where I said ” maybe have and index” it should have been “maybe have an index”

  • nick says:

    How about a smiling, ever so slightly provocative image of you appear across the screen every few pages. Perhaps each chapter could have a different picture.

    On a more serious note, I’ve had this debate just recently with a book-store owning friend. I would love to see cool story related artwork show up as you read through the e-book. Think the great Alan lee illustrations that were inserted in the LOTR special editions, their are sooo many good digital artists out there these days you could get some really cool work done. There is no limit to how often you could have pic’s either. Even COOLER would to be have animations every so often as well. I don’t have a kindle/reader yet, but they can handle colour can’t they? They must have the technology to allow insertions of illustrations through the chapters.

    If you filled an ebook with cool stuff like that. I’d pay for it without a doubt. Reviews, interviews, notes etc are all nice. I can’t say I’d particularly buy an e-book for those though.

  • enjai says:

    A glossary (if you could get your minions to do it for you) as it would probably help spotting the “special guests” in the stand-alones. Lots of maps (if you get someone else to draw them). Some interviews would be good (can ebooks handle video?)- you could be lazy and just record some of your pre-signing blurbs that you do. Those kinds of things would be interesting to me, although it would only encourage me to pay the same amount for an e-book as a real-book, not more.

    The problem with all of the above is that you can still get them in books, which is still a bit self-defeating. I can’t thing of anything other than video that an ebook can do that a book can’t. Maybe some clever bookmark/indexing thing where you can go straight to the part that’s interesting, or search for pages about certain characters/events. That’s something that only a lot of sticky-tape and highlighters can do in the real world.

  • Eric says:

    As others have said: A glossary, perhaps a brief history of the setting (or a timeline of the past).

    I’d spend a few extra bucks for that kind of info.

  • SwindonNick says:

    ooh, let’s not refresh the e-book debate v the paper copy but a couple of points:
    1) to widen the audience for e-books, why not offer a free e-book with the hardback so that the punter becomes accustomed to both versions
    2) I would ask how many DVDs you have bought with lots of extras, and then not bothered with them? The times I have bought the two disc special edition and never found the time to watch disc 2 (excpet for the out-takes)…
    3) As for extra content you could strip out stuff from your blog (the life of the book, articles about art work etc).
    But your post was about us PAYING extra for an ENHANCED copy and I have to advise, that in honesty I wouldn’t do it. Sorry.

  • Matthew says:

    I second the comment about artwork. Perhaps updateable, uploadable content. Character illustrations, maps, etc…

    Interactive maps would be REALLY cool. A map that can show where you are in the world based on where you are in the book. Show the characters in relation to one another on the map, that kind of thing.

  • Matt says:

    I’m reading the Blade Itself and thoroughly enjoying it, but have thought how useful it would be to have a map. To add value over and above the hard copy (good point by the other posters that you could do a lot of the best extra content in a proper book), a map that develops as you read – follow Logen’s journey chapter by chapter or similar – would be valuable added content.

    Illustrations can be great when they feel totally integral to the book (the Tolkien example is spot on – his own illustrations in the Hobbit are, for me, unbeatable), but I do worry about them being done in retrospect. Once you see an illustration, it fixes that character in your head for good. The beauty of the Lord of the Rings films was that the characters matched my imagination. Now that I’m a few hundred pages in to the Blade Itself, without illustrations, I can see the characters clearly in my mind’s eye and won’t willingly give them up.

  • I like the idea of hyperlinked ancillary tidbits. Something along the lines of the director’s commentary on a DVD.

    Those “early drafts, deleted bits and pieces, notes and plans, interviews” that you mentioned would be kind of cool – if they were accessible from inside the narrative via hyperlinks.

  • Marc says:

    I agree with the comments on images. Any artwork related to the stories would be great.

    I doubt ebook readers could handle it (perhaps an iPad can?), but an interactive map would be sweet. Something that starts with the world view, and contains details that you can zoom into. I think that would help immerse us readers even further into the world and thus the story.

  • Chris Upton says:

    Do we get a writers commentory with these e book thingymebobs?

  • Derek says:

    Price is gonna be a big factor with ebooks…i have a sony and bought quite a few books at a good price but no way would i pay full or near full price for a ebook. I would want the book itself.
    Also i can’t help thinking that this is going to go the way of music and games and have a thriving piracy market. You only have to look at a few well known filesharing sites to see the numbers of ebooks available for “free”.

  • Rachel says:

    I’m not sure anything would incite me to pay for an e-book; I’m a Luddite (she types into her laptop). But … the kind of extra I’d like to see would be something like Scott Lynch did in his Red Skies Under Red Seas excerpt where he added author notes: http://www.scottlynch.us/excerpts.html

  • Liam says:

    As a person who reads print books exclusively (except public domain books, and only then because e-versions are free), I personally would feel somewhat alienated if the money I shelled out for a paper version was somehow vastly inferior to the e-book version.

    Things like indexes, glossaries, perhaps linked words throughout the text that take you directly *to* aforementioned glossary, those would all be excellent ways to add value to the e-book version. Exclusive maps and illustrations, deleted scenes, and other such things would be the sorts of things that would make me, as a print reader, feel left out.

  • Stacy says:

    I love my Nook (the Barnes and Noble e-reader). I am bummed that The First Law trilogy isn’t already available as an e-book, though I did download “Best Served Cold.” One of the reasons I got an e-reader is that books are cheaper. While I love the feel of a real book, I read a lot and needed a way to save money. I could see myself paying a little more for an enhanced version for certain books. As an earlier reader suggested, artwork would be a great enhancement. In books with a lot of characters, I think a list/description of characters would be helpful. I also like maps. But, I would only purchase the enhanced version for certain books and only if it was still cheaper than the physical version.

  • Cyrus says:

    Brandon Sanderson has a very interesting way of annotating his chapters. Currently he does this for free on his website… But I would be willing to pay a few extra bucks for some good insight into how your work evolved, your personal stories about inspiration, and maybe little things that were added in I may have missed on the first read through.
    I think it would be smart to market these annotations separate from the book itself as well as selling them in a package deal. For example regular book: $20.00, book with annotations $22.50, annotations separately $5.00

  • Bob Lock says:

    Smell-e-vision! It has to be smell-e-vision! Then when someone goes back to the mud you can actually smell the blood, gore, earth and voided bowels…

    Hmm… perhaps with a pop-out sick bag attachment too?

  • Matt says:

    I personally always thought that one of the most awesome things in LOTR was the big appendix at the end with all that useless information. Well useless to normal readers, but fun for geeks like me.

    How awesome would a First Law appendix be with added info, like the names of all 13 magi and their specific fields of study (we are a few names short, Joe!), a geneology of Kings of the Union (which would help those of us who postulate theories to know our timelines better. We could figure out more logistics on whether King Casamir and Shenkt are the same person :p). More info on the religious/political setup in Gurkhal, etc. Maybe some maps too, haha.

    But seriously, we need all 13 magi names. Like now.

  • Tobi A says:

    Chapters and scenes that didn’t make the book, doesn’t matter how rough it’s written. It’d be nice to see what you thought shouldn’t make it and why. It might also provide a little more insight to some of the characters or it’ll just be fun to read a little something extra.
    Maybe toss in random artwork as well, preferably of the characters. Once again, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just something rough but anything would be greatly appreciated..

  • Skar says:

    The equivalent of a directors commentary for a movie in the form of internal hyperlinks or footnotes leading to your ever so sagacious musings perhaps.

    Or illustrations. Yes, I quite like illustrations and, given an example of the art ahead of time, might pay more for them.

  • ogbebaba says:

    most ebook readers have a search engine and I will buy the ebook versions just for that. so maybe you can expand on that give me the option to search all quotes from a certain character or some kind of character watch option that will display all the text referring to featuring a character or event. as for extras how about a rogues gallery of some sort with little extra off the wall facts about the

  • JenMo says:

    I think author’s notes, or even author’s thoughts… Kind of like director’s commentary on DVDs, would be cool, and something I’d be interested in and wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for. I’m not an e-book buyer yet, I’ll probably come around with the second generation of the iPad. Though I’d like that if when I bought a good old dead tree book, it came with the e-book option. Again similar to the Blue Ray / Digital Copy DVD formats.

  • Jason says:

    Miguel’s idea of hyperlinks are good, with flashy pop ups if possible. Artwork of Characters with descriptions, for instance, if you tap the name Logen Ninefingers, a character bio sheet comes up with a picture of Logen, his stats, and a small background.

    You could include the same for places within the text. For instance, in Best Served Cold, when they get to Westport, you can have a picture of the town, and the discription of the town ready as a hyperlink, maybe a small animation if you were really thinking of hamming it up.

    You could also include world maps etc. etc. I would certainly pay the cut above what I’d pay for a regular book or E’book to be quite honest.

    The real question here is, just HOW many people are captivated enough by your Circle of the World to fork out the extra dosh for such ENHANCEMENTS to their Ebooks? Would it really be worth your money if only a few hundred Hardcore fans forked out the money?

  • Starhammer says:

    Perhaps things like appendices and glossaries such as are found in the Wheel of Time, Martin’s books, etc.

    Maps, tables, charts.

    Prologues that you cut for whatever reason or maybe just chapters and things that were cut more for keeping the physical book length down rather than for structural/narrative issues, as physical book size is not an issue with eBooks.

    Another great thing to look at would be annotations such as Brandon Sanderson does on his website. That would be a great place to look for ideas – Brandon offers a whole lot of content on his website that I think is right in line with what you are looking for and would easily be adapted to the eBook format.

  • JDP says:

    Maps! 🙂 Shiny interactive ones!

    In other news: exclusive interviews, alternative covers/concept art, other related artwork, printable top trumps cards of the characters, audio of select chapters read aloud in Joe’s dulcet tones (with characters voices and everything), an option to have a progressive timeline, which can be pulled up and shows you where you are in the book (by the page you’re on or where your bookmark is) and displays the major events/story arcs that have gone by, graphic novel version of selected chapters, desktop wallpapers/skins for certain devices, a video introduction by Joe, audio of joe sniggering at the funny bits (to be triggered when a reader gets to them), a printable lifesize cutout of Joe wielding a bit of bannister…

  • fish says:

    an interactive Marauders map ala H Potter showing where everybody is and a fly through program of the world in question – a certain Mr Pratchett would clean up with that particular item

  • Martin Jackson says:

    I don’t think I’d pay anymore for content which doesn’t expand the narrative . Pictures , maps don’t I’m afraid . Where the future for this format is in serialization , short stories and ultimately out of print books which are still available only via this format , this allows a revenue stream for the author which hasn’t been present before , after all you don’t make any money from second hand sales .

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Jeez, lots of responses. My thanks. It looks as if people are in general at leasst curious about the idea, provided the content was worthwhile. A few general points:

    Lots of calls for artwork, which would of course be great, but the cost of commissioning work of adequate quality would probably be prohibitive. Even in the case of fan art, if you could find some good enough, you’re in a licencing nightmare. Plus the majority of e-book readers aren’t particularly good at handling that kind of content yet. So art is probably out, alas. Though a map of some kind might potentially be a different issue.

    Lots of talk about the pricing too – I’m generally very much in agreement that ebooks need to priced low – certainly lower than the physical equivalent – and the industry is generally behind on that. Unfortunately pricing is set at a level a good way above my pay grade so while I’ll continue to make my case, along with a lot of others, progress on that may well be pretty slow…

    Liam – I hear you on the perceived inferiority of the paper version, but the point here is that an e-book can easily accomodate reams of extra material (an entire early draft, for example, or all blog posts I’ve made over a certain period) that would make a physical copy unbindable or prohibitively expensive. No one wants to buy a physical copy and find half the thickness is interviews with the author and others, they might be interested to buy an ebook with those features.

    SwindonNick – in the same breath you say you wouldnt pay extra for enhancements, and in 2) that you constantly do that for DVDs. Whether people bother with the extras after the fact is up to them. The question here is whether they’d rather pay more for some extras, given the chance.

    Give me more…

  • Benny says:

    I’m reluctant to enter the e-book world as most are. But i know in the near future we will all be laughing about having paper copies of books and boring children with stories of bookmarks and tea soaked pages!! Oh the hilarity!!

    But, in answer to your question. I would like to see including; audio interview where you talk about the writing of the book and general influences and other such things. Maybe 15-20 mins or so. Other than a general ‘author discusion’ i can’t really think of anything else i would care much about. Artwork?? nah.. Deleted scenes i don’t think would work for books as they do for DVDs. I guess you would be against dropping in a short story or 2? But personally that would make me part with some extra wonga to help pay for pens and coffee.

    Looking forward to your next offerings!! Until then, it’s King of the Crags for me..

  • TK42ONE says:

    I’d like to have a synchronized e-book/audio book combination. Some sort of feature where I can easily switch between the audio version of the book (so I can listen to it when I drive) and the e-book version (so I can read it when I get to where I’m going). Think of it like an electronic bookmark that’s smart enough to know where I am in each version of the book and allows me to switch between them.

  • enjai says:

    The point about buying the extra DVD and never watching it is something I’m also guilty of. I guess it happens a lot, in which case i guess the publishers don’t ultimately care if you use the bonus material. It’s a sold copy either way and the people putting the extra work in still get paid.

    A lot of these suggestions look as though they would require someone putting a lot of extra work into the e-book, which would make the price hike more bearable.

  • Philipp says:

    Concerning E-Book pricing, I wonder why the Kindle Edition of Best Served Cold is actually priced higher than the Paperback?

    I don’t think I would pay additional for early drafts or deleted bits and pieces. And although you said you’re not planning extra fiction I think an alternative story ending could be much fun for the readers as well as the author (and it’s already being done for games. well, I agree you can’t necessarily compare the two.). That would certainly be something worth paying for.

  • Doug says:

    You are correct, Joe. I’d rather not have extra fiction. A ‘commentary track’ would be neat for readers who have finished the series. I’m not sure what price point would grab me, but I’m not sure I’d go much over an extra dollar or so for the benefits.

  • SwindonNick says:

    Fair point to call me out on my DVD example, but I moved on from my initial stupidity of buying the two disc sets to realising what a waste of money they are, and now I buy the cheaper version.
    I honestly don’t think the enhanced version will fly. Even those who talk about artwork and maps, I’m not sure they will look that great on an e-reader. And I think most readers just want to read the book and the potential audience for this is low.
    So are we talking:
    Proper paper version
    E-book version
    Enhanced e-book version
    and if so I think the enhanced one will be the least attractive (sorry!)

  • Adrian says:

    Won’t ebooks encourage piracy?

    I, for instance, have texts for university as pdfs as opposed to print, since a lot can be found for free, especially those with expired copyrights.

    Sure, you’ll have copyrights, but surely there will be people that don’t give a toss, am I right?

  • Jon says:

    I’ll have to actually buy an e-reader first (Not that likely), but honestly, I never buy for extras. I rarely watch them on DVDs… I like the idea of hyper link annotations to appendixes and character wikis, but really, I buy first, last, and only for the story and will probably just ignore the extras.

  • Jon says:

    That being said, though, I’ll pay for the extra just like I do for DVDS… I like the fancier covers… They look nicer…

  • I’m afraid I wouldn’t pay extra for an enhanced e-book, no matter what it contained. Most of the suggestions above strike me as gimmicks, like DVD extras. You watch them once then never touch them again.

    But then, I wouldn’t buy an e-book at all. Read fiction on a screen? Ick ick ick–it feels too much like work. Until someone invents an e-reader that looks, feels, hefts and smells like a real book, that I can read in the bath, I’ll stick to paper, thanks.

  • Dan says:

    I do not want an e-reader. I like real books. If you lose it or break it or it gets stolen your only out 10 bucks, not several hundred and all your books. I’m tired of gadgets and stuff to carry. I had a Kindle 2.0 for about 3 weeks. I read the warded man on it. I hated the format. I hated the idea of going electric with my books. I want my kids to see me reading real books, not looking at another screen. I returned it.

    I would prefer if your going to do “extra’s” you just make a book of short stories, extra’s, drawings, etc. Id buy that in a heart beat.

  • Pink Ink says:

    Dan, I just can’t agree more!
    The E-book has a format on which you’ll be forced
    to read like if you were checking out some webpage.
    And seems like I’m not the only one who is not feeling comfortable with this thing. I tried it one time,
    it was a disaster. The thing is that, at least I do that,
    while visiting some webpage I skipp most of the Info offered and check only for the stuff I want to read.
    Same rules for the E-book, I’m just skimming through the book and not getting into it.

  • Thal says:

    As much as I love reading real paper books, I just had to buy an ebook reader, for a: if I buy more “real books” I need to build a library and b: as I can’t affor building one, my wife would force me to give away or, heaven forbis, to throw away a lot of books. And the really good thing about an ebook reader is having hundreds of books with you. Awesome.
    So I really like the idea of making ebooks more popular (so we can buy the ones we want and not the few, that are available.) I’m not sure if we talk about ebook enhancements in general or for Joes books. I would buy just about everything Joe would release, so no sweat. In genereal I would love the idea to have scenes that got cut early. Hel, I would love to read rough drafts of my favourite books. Author comments and hyperlinked Index would be a nice thing, too. But cut scenes? In books? Count me in.

  • Iwantitall says:

    What I would love to have is a complete change history of a book using a version control system such as git. This has the slight downside that it would require you as the author to use a VCS during the writing. I believe some authors already do this (I know Cory Doctorow does), and it’s very little to no extra work (and possibly holds some major benefits for an authors workflow). Having all auxilliary notes as well as the main body of the text, and being able to view all changes made throughout their history (draft, rewrites, editorial changes etc.) would be insanely interesting to me. If the changelog were commented (e.g. “voided character Xxx today, he’s stupid and I hate him”) that would be even more humungously fantastifabulous.

    If I may ask a question back, would you as an author even be prepared to let the public see your work in such detail? I can imagine that it would not be easy to know that your readers can view mistakes you make during the creation of the book (which are later revised out and thus not normally visible) and may discuss them at length in forums. Or would you be happy to do something like this and it wouldn’t bother you at all?

    (Tried posting this yesterday but for some reason the blog didn’t take it).

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I certainly understand those who aren’t enamoured of the whole concept of ebooks and find that paper books are, well, pretty well adapted to purpose. I also very much understand those who really have no interest in enhanced features. Enhanced ebooks are (at least for the time being) going to be a niche product, but it’s hard to create a market if the product doesn’t exist. The aim here is to see whether there’s a big enough niche to make it worthwhile trying to fill it with something (relatively) easy to produce…

  • Erik says:

    I think the beauty of reading a book is the immersion; loosing yourself in a good story, that’s just awesome. Any extra’s with e-book readers should definitely be optional/backgrounded. I cannot believe one can read a book where in every other sentence there is a hyperlink, it’s not friggn Wikipedia (where reading one article always leaves me with dozens of open tabs)

    On Artwork – that is of course awesome, and not just for an e-book. Once commissioned, the art should be printed in the HardCover. I’d definitely pay for that (if done right…) and then you have material to plug into the e-book.

    The idea posted earlier about giving en e-copy with the HardCover smells like logic. Good move to get ppl acquainted with the idea.

    But the best thing about selling electronic copies of a thing has to be Free Trials (dunno is this is being done now, tbh). But throw around the first chapters of your book to everyone even remotely looking in your direction and surely (since your books come with a good serving of awesomesauce) you can conquer a new market with little work = world domination!

  • Andrew says:

    I recently purchased an ereader and, as far as I’m concerned, the single most important factor in my ebook buying decisions is price. In fact, despite the large-ish upfront cost of an ereader, my primary motivation in buying was to save money in the long run. From that perspective, I’d have a hard time getting really excited about the enhanced ebook. There’s not much I can think of that an author can add (even one I favor as much as you, Joe *wink*) that would justify the few extra dollars. I can’t be alone in not really wanting the notes/drafts/hilarious outtakes. I want the finished product that you and your editors felt was best. Reading the other stuff can some times ruin the fun – for instance, someone else’s comment here mentioned Brandon Sanderson’s website and all the notes and annotations that he has posted there – well, I read those notes after finishing his Mistborn trilogy and was surprised to find that a huge plot point reveal towards the end of book two was a very last-minute change. It was a good enough reason, I suppose, but the knowledge still kind of dulled the afterglow, if you take my meaning. But back to the issue – I want to see my favorite authors succeed and be paid fairly for their work, however it is distributed and read. While I might not consider the enhanced ebook, I would think twice if, as a previous commenter suggested, the physical version of a book included a digital copy as well. All I ask for on the digital copy is that things are formatted correctly and proofread, rather unlike the Google book scans. Everybody likes a free book, but I swear some of those scans are unreadable.

  • Colf says:

    I have no plans to go the e-book route. I like actual books and have no desire to go to electronic. If I did, which I”m not, all that extra stuff really wouldn’t interest me. Same as when I get a special edition DVD I never watch the bonus features. The only thing that ever get’s me interested when it comes to special edition DVD’s is extended/director’s cuts of the films themselves and the same would hold true for books. Since you already said that isn’t on the table and since I have already said I don’t like e-books, let’s move on

  • Don says:

    There are some really good ideas posted so far, I think my favorite so far is an interactive map.

    — Since I enjoy hearing about the creation process just as much as I like reading a good book, I would like to see a few pages devoted to detailing how the book developed from an initial idea up to publication. Details about how the initial idea came about, how long the writing process took (even a timeline of the major milestones: outline created; first draft finished; final draft; etc), scenes/chapters that were difficult to write, issues editors had with the book and how the issues were dealt with would all be interesting to me.

    — Deleted scenes/chapters

    — Foreshadowing feature – At the completion of a series or book (if it is a standalone book) it might be interesting to have a foreshadowing section so the reader can see if they picked up on all the foreshadowing the author placed in the book. I envision it being a page where it would list events that were foreshadowed like “Who killed Asmodean?” (sorry different series, I am currently reading “Best Served Cold”) and you could click that question and a drop down list would appear which list all the foreshadowing included in the book. The section would not reveal the answer though, only the foreshadowing elements.
    I am not sure how I feel about this feature though. On the one hand it could be cool for someone who read through the book completely and wanted to see if they noticed all the foreshadowing elements as sometimes they are quite subtle. On the other hand, I can see this feature being abused by those who only want their questions answered and could care less about the pages in between.

    Linked glossary – Sometimes a few books into a series – especially if the books have been released several years apart – it is hard to remember certain elements from a previous book. It would be nice if the reader could click/highlight on a word/phrase in the text which would would take you to a glossary and then provide an easy way to jump back to the section you were reading.

  • SwindonNick says:

    I think firstt he publishers need to get the marketing and pricing sorted on e-books and then, once we punters are far more comfortable with them, MAYBE look at being clever with the format, but at the moment I don’t thibk the market is there.
    I take me as an example. I have a Sony Reader and have hardly used it, not because I am anti them, but because for main stream books, paper is still cheaper. I read about 150 books a year and have a massive ‘to be read’ pile in the bedroom, many of those I would rather have on the Reader because they take up a load of space, but I am not prepared to pay extra for it! So I think enhanced options are a long way down the road, and us punters need to become more comfortable and confident with using the format first.

  • Matthias says:

    Well, a good start would be to make ebooks available everywhere – while I am perfectly able to buy physical copies of the UK or even US editions in Austria long before any translation is released, I am not allowed to get the same book in any ebook format legally because of “geographical restrictions”.

    You think that might not matter all that much, but whenever I discover a service like Hulu, Youtube videos by music labels, buying itunes TV series, ebook stores etc that I AM NOT ALLOWED TO USE, I cannot help but shake my head in wonder.

    It seems to me as though you people (the publishing industry, not you, the writer) don’t want my money. Worry about the extras later, make your stuff actually available. I’ve heard the whole “different rights for different regions, that’s how it works” argument a million times before, but I still don’t get why I can buy US DVDs fom Amazon, US and UK books in my bookshop round the corner without a problem, but I am not allowed to buy an ebook or watch on Hulu.

    End of rant. Sorry.

  • Chris Upton says:

    Also they’re not as tactile as books are they? I’m a pretty tactile person myself as my various restraining orders can attest.

  • Phil says:

    I’m a book person through and through, I have no interest in buying E books as reading something from the screen I find difficult I prefer to have the printed product in my hand.

    A lot of people have mentioned all the extras that can be included, this again is of no interest to me. I buy DVDs that are the basic 1 disc with the feature on it I’ve no interest in hours and hours of “making of” skits, deleted scenes and bloopers (thats what Youtube is for).

    It may appeal to a lot of people but for me I’ll stick to the paper product.

  • Bryce says:

    Printed books, never. I shall only ever read pages written by hand. A passing fad.

  • Eddwigg says:

    Sorry but scrap the entire idea of extras because at the end of the day it could slow down your writing. It will take more and more of your time and then the wait between books would be even longer. So please write Damn you!
    p.s. remember Stephen King`s Mercy ( I do have a sledgehammer you know )

  • ColinJ says:

    I’ve been tempted many times to buy an e-book but I think the technology is still unfinished and a bit too expensive at this stage.

    I love the feel of a good book, but if I went on a trip and wanted to take along a few volumes of R.E. Howard (or that Abercrombie guy) it’s easier to do so on an e-book.

    I think I’ll wait a while before taking the plunge.

  • Silence_Dogood says:

    You sell me an e-book that can switch over to an audio book, and then back to an e-book when I want it to, and that would be worth spending some extra money on….

    Seriously, that would be awesome. I could go to the gym and listen to the book while I work out, and then read it later that night! I think that would definitely be worth looking into.

  • Aravan says:

    I’d love to see some Delted-Scenes-Type content and maybe some cool artwork.

  • martin moss says:

    I have an ebook reader- I share a small house with two daughters and a wife, my share of space is getting squeezed and books don’t last long in the loft – even bagged.

    Ebooks with extra content – unnecessary.
    I want to pay less for ebooks as there is no printing cost/raw material cost/ transport cost.
    Sell me a paperback with a disc containing the electronic version for free by all means.
    Allow me to ‘cash in’ my physical real world books in exchange for an electronic copy – that would be nice.
    Let me read my ebook by any method without restrictions please – by phone, by ebook reader, laptop, pocket pc.
    I don’t want to come back to a book 10 years later to find that I no longer have the ‘registered’ hardware and then have to resort to nefarious methods to be able to access it again.

  • Johnny CL says:

    I’ve never thought of ‘extras’ in eBooks, but you bring up a good point. I like your own idea of including the equivalent of deleted scenes (deleted words?), an early draft, a couple of interviews, etc. None of those are necessary, of course, but that’s why they’re called extras. And to the detractors who claim they don’t care about such things, the success of DVDs with extras shows that there IS a market for such things. I had thought of art work, but you already addressed that…

    Brandon Sanderson actually did something like the deleted words. On his website, he had made available a sequence set in the world of “Elantris”. He couldn’t fit it in the actual novel as it was only peripherally related to the main plot*, but he liked it and gave it for free on his website as a PDF. So you could do something similar.

    Another idea (though I don’t know how practical): how about a short story? It could be related to the novel’s story, or it could just be a stand-alone piece. Of course, I don’t expect you to spend too much time forcefully crafting a piece, but a lot of SFF authors seem to write short stories on the side, to be included in magazines or collections, or just for the hell of it. You could include such a piece in the eBook, if you’re into that sort of thing.

    * It was basically a scene about this a couple of characters and what they went through ‘on the sidelines’ while the main story was going on.

    P.S. Sorry about the long post…

  • Alex says:

    I think the kicker for ebooks is the price, when you get things like this: http://www.iamcurrentlyreading.co.uk/2010/03/02/ebooks-the-price-shame/ it’s hard to have any faith in the system. I have a Sony ereader but its mostly got classics on it as more often than not I can get a release day hardback cheaper 🙁

  • Andrew says:

    Alex’s example there is, if not universal, at least telling. I’ve found myself in the same sort of pattern, more or less immediately dismissing (for purchase, anyway) any ebook with a price tag of more than $7-8 (the price of your average paperback). I’ve found a couple in that lofty price range that I wouldn’t mind reading but I don’t, instead putting them on a virtual wishlist until whoever is responsible for the ridiculous pricing comes to their senses. This isn’t a hard and fast rule that I follow, but much more a matter of perceived value, so when the next Abercrombie, Lynch, or – sometime before I die, please – Martin offering comes out, I’m likely to stray from that guideline based on what I have already read from that author. And that leads me to a final point for authors to chew on: Free Fridays. I don’t know if other ereaders/distributors have something like this going on, but the Barnes and Noble nook (which I have) has a weekly promotion wherein a book is offered free for a very limited time. As a result of the 4 or 5 books that I have downloaded from that program, both my wife and I have found new authors that we like. The real hook of a promotion like this is that the book being offered seems almost always to be the first book in a cycle or series. Brilliant! I like what I read of Robin Hobb’s series, therefore I am much more likely to “bend the rules” when it comes to purchasing her books in the future (or in her case, from an already substantial catalog). Likewise for the author my wife stumbled on to. The author being a known (and good) quantity, in other words, is what is most likely to draw out a little more of the hard-earned you mentioned, Joe.

  • ogbebaba says:

    I would defiantly pay extra for JOE to read a chapter or to to me and to pronounce all the names. any extra info on characters or things in his world is worth some extra money

    O.k. her is an off the wall idea what if you put a pole in the book that would let us vote on what you wright about next
    say for instance you have 4 or 5 stories your thinking about writing, well let us choose you could make it a big selling point WHAT IS JOE ABERCROMBIE GOING TO WRIGHT NEXT YOU DECIDE. I would pay extra to get a vote on what the next book is about. hell I would pay per vote

  • MOJO says:

    At this point I am buying about 80% ebooks. I only buy hard copy when an ebook is not available.

    I would really like to see some of the background material. By that I mean, artwork, maps, character profiles. Access to material that may have inspired stories or charcters.

  • Shevn says:

    Well, just got an iPad and am hoping to God some decent fantasy books will soon appear in the iBooks store. Even you, Joe, at a pinch! Anyway, some of the embedded content in the media apps must be something that can be replicated in ebooks. Embedded video interviews are the obvious ones. Fairly cheap to do, and not very time-consuming, unless the author is a bit too in love with his/her own voice. And how about linking in or embedding some objective criticism? Carefully selected objective criticism, of course. Also, some decent ads for other works in the author’s oeuvre – by which I mean something a bit better than the trite guff you get on amazon (vids again? Pics?)

  • TheeBiz says:

    Some great ideas have already been posted here, but I’m marginally interested in the possibility of an e-book, and would probably ONLY shell out money for it if it included something extra and cool. As a writer, I think it would be fascinating to see earlier draft-type-stuff (the actual text from the first draft, even earlier outlines, your earliest notes on what the book would be about, etc.). That’s definitely something I’d be willing to pay for.

  • Billb says:

    got an iPad 3 weeks ago.I’ll not buy another book again. No need for extra content, IMO. Just make sure your publisher gets their books on kindle, b&n, or iBooks. Kindle, by far has the best selection, but still many books not sold electronically…FYI just bought/read your 1st book on my iPad.

  • […] Joe Abercrombie made a request – “what styles of additional content would persuade you to part with a little more of […]

  • TurbineJag says:

    I prefer a hard copy book for sure but eBooks are the perfect skive! I can be reading an ebook on my laptop at work and nobody around can tell 🙂 It just looks like text. I really don’t want to shell out for a fancy ereader though that would totally give the game away and I’m happy to browse the web for extra content rather than pay for it (sorry Joe)
    When you find little bits of info on the web you have the treasure hunter’s thrill; extra content that you pay for is just retail therapy and a poor second best.

  • […] features readers might enjoy in their ebook purchases, Joe Abercrombie has done us all a favor by asking that very question on his blog (note: there’s more than one page of […]

  • Hi Joe, thanks for asking this question. I wrote a fairly long response in a blog post.

  • Lamagra says:

    What does get on my nerves are the ‘techno snobs’ who say things like “i’ll never read an ebook” As if in doing so they would be committing a mortal sin. To those people I say, don’t knock what you’ve never tried. I’ve just given my entire book collection to charity & from now on I will only buy ebooks. They’re better for the environment, they don’t take up loads of precious space, they never get old and tatty and last but not least, they’re cheaper.
    What I would like to see are things like maps included. The kindle edition of The blade itself, has just a blank front cover? All other kindle books i’ve bought sit nicely on my electronic bookshelf.

  • Gorka says:

    I am loath to stop buying paper books, but I am going to have to start. I just don’t have space, and I don’t want to give away the books I have. So, I’m buying a Kindle and going “e” at least unless I particularly fancy having the printed product for whatever reason. To be honest, paying more for the extra stuff doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Now, when I buy CDs, I get all sorts of DVD content, interviews and stuff. I never watch or read any of it. In fact, if there was a cheaper version of the CD without any “extras” I would buy it.

  • […] my enhanced e-book consultation threw up some interesting suggestions.  Several were those who said the digital revolution would only happen over their suppurating […]

  • Wayne Jennings says:

    Hi Jo

    As a confirmed ebook reader owner who loves ebooks, I think the idea of enhanced ebooks is potentially a great idea – it parallels the extra packages you get on dvds these days and in principle has a lot of potential.

    I agree we wouldnt want you and the team spending a huge amount of time and effort building up the package extras, as we would really like to see you writing the next book.

    Having said all that however, I am not convinced what should be contained in the extras – perhaps visuals like maps etc where relevant because if like me you have to use medium or large format print because my wretched eyes don’t always cope well with the smallest print format. When you change the print size you almost inevitably lose any maps, or images. So perhaps a package could include enlarged images as well.

    Keep the good stuff flowing.

  • davidriched says:

    I am loath to stop buying paper books, but I am going to have to start. I just don’t have space, and I don’t want to give away the books I have. So, I’m buying a Kindle and going “e” at least unless I particularly fancy having the printed product for whatever reason. To be honest, paying more for the extra stuff doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Now, when I buy CDs, I get all sorts of DVD content, interviews and stuff. I never watch or read any of it. In fact, if there was a cheaper version of the CD

  • Min says:

    As a very, very late comment on this ancient blog post… Hell yes I would pay for additional material in an e-book. I only found this post by trying to Google whether any of your other books beyond The Heroes had a new enhanced edition available, cos I appreciated that Making Of content. (basically I have NapoLeon related theories and also want to know more about the creation of [redacted sad dead character] because my heart is breaking). If you ever release any more material, please do announce it on your blog!

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