My Dark Masters at Gollancz have unveiled an interesting project – they’re using the latest digital e-book-ification technology to make available the entire backlists of various past (and in some cases current) giants of the genre, some of which are available dead tree style on their Science Fiction and Fantasy Masterworks lists, but a lot of which have been long out of print. All this will be index linked to a new e-edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction along with all sorts of other of your twenty-first century network social hubbery antics.
The Gateway does not open for a couple of months (see what I did there?), but I and a few other current authors are on their front page talking about some of our favourite titles on the list. For me it’s Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. Mmmmm, definitive.
13 comments so far
Thanks for the pointer Joe. At the moment they seem to have very little beyond a list of possible authors that they’re going to publish, questions on Twitter about pricing, availability and DRM are being answered with the rote “Same as the rest of the market” (translate: “We have no clue about the issues involved”). But it’s early days yet, so it’ll be interesting to see what the final launch will look like.
An issue closer to my heart (and maybe this is a good place to bring it up): what happened to the originally announced Enhanced Ebook Edition. I’ve been patiently gnawing my fingers down to the elbow waiting for further news :-). Is this still going to appear anytime soon? Or at least anytime? Thanks.
Gaah, “Enhanced Ebook Edition of The Heroes” is what I meant of course…
Yeah, good question on the Enhanced E-Book. From my end, the content was all provided some time ago. In time for the january publication, in fact. The original plan was to publish it alongside the normal edition. It certainly will come at some point, probably with enhanced editions of all the rest of my books, at some stage. I think there’s been some difficulty with retailers – who all have different concepts of how the enhanced ebook thing is going to work – and with territories. I’d hoped it would’ve happened by now, though. I’ll look into it.
Well whaddaya know, the speculative “probably with enhanced editions of all the rest of my books, at some stage” has made my arms and fingers grow back by pure joy, so I can start gnawing all over again :-). Thanks for the answer, at least now I know I didn’t miss anything. Retailing vagaries do seem to be the main problem with ebooks (though why publishers don’t simply set up their own digital retailing shops I don’t know, probably something to do with contractual obligations).
I think it’s a great idea as long as it comes through. I have stacks of yellowed out of print paperbacks from the 70s and it would be great to have them in a nice clean e-format.
The interesting bit will be the pricing. Will I want to pay a lot for 30 year old material that I already have? No. Will I pay realistic prices for modern and new stuff? Yep.
I have The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction bending a shelf somewhere, great when it came out but obviously dates very quickly, an e-version kept up to date on line is a brilliant idea, hope the do the same for The Encyclopedia of Fantasy.
Indeed, fail to come through on one promise, simply blind ’em with another even more difficult to fulfil! What could go wrong?
The whole ebook arena is currently littered with frustrations that make little sense to the consumer, and retailers are coming at it from markedly different directions and with different expectations. Apple’s ibooks is an extension of a film and music paradigm in which extra content is expected to be free (but publishers working on much smaller margins can’t really afford to provide that) for example. In terms of publishers setting up their own shops, they don’t control the hardware, and it’s possible that a retailer like, say, amazon would be somewhat unhappy if a publisher started crowding one area of their business, and would refuse to play ball in other areas. Setting up a powerful retail operation is a massive undertaking, and doing it with ebooks alone might not really be realistic. It’s a tightrope, and the stakes are high as everyone competes over a dwindling pie…
As with many of these ideas, God is in the details. Price in particular. And it ain’t going to be entirely free of some of the frustrations that dog the ebook market generally, as a lot of those things are set at overarching corporate level. But I think the basis is sound, and it’s an idea that aims to make use of the unique advantages of ebooks and internet connectivity rather than simply churning out poorly formatted versions of your core paper product, and I think that should be celebrated.
Sounds like a good idea.
There are some missing names that I’d like to see added to the list, but it’s early days yet.
If it comes off it might even persuade me to buy an e-reader.
Hope they don’t restrict it to novels, there are some great short-story collections that are tough to find in any format.
Great idea. Is this just for Brits, or will this be available internationally?
What kind of royalties will they be paying these past AND CURRENT authors?
I guess it will never be utterly comprehensive as some writers will always be in print and contracted elsewhere. I’m pretty sure they’ll include short stories – the idea is to provide the entire out of print backlists for writers, and Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser are in there after all.
Dunno on that one, actually…
Can’t say I’m involved in the contractual arrangements, so I’ve got no idea about royalties. They’re going to differ to some degree with every author, I would imagine, as they do anywhere.
Would we be able to hear anything about the new book… Im on my fourth round of your books and i keep finding stuff i never picked up on. Keep up the good work Joe. We all await for the next masterpiece.
I’m also curious about the enhanced ebook of THE HEROES. I bought the initial release and the only problem I have with it is that even on the big Kindle DX screen the maps are small and poor quality on the e-ink screen.
And for a book like THE HEROES, which is so specific in its geography and strategic locations, it made it somewhat hard to follow.
So I’m hoping that in the next edition the maps may be able to be a big bigger and easier to read.
It’s about bleeding time!
That is all.