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April 14, 2005

A Special Edition of OMW

Earlier today, Instapundit posted this entry. This inspired me to do something, which in turn inspired me to send Glenn an e-mail, which inspired him to make another posting here. For those of you too lazy to click through, here's the e-mail I sent to Glenn:

Maj. Tammes' note about being "hyped up" to read Old Man's War inspired me to call up Tor Books to see if we could do something special for the service people in Afghanistan and Iraq. I asked, and Tor agreed, to make available a free electronic version of "Old Man's War" for our folks serving in those countries. I call it the "Over There Special Edition" -- it's an .rtf file, about 570kb, with the entire text of the novel.

To get it, service people in Iraq and Afghanistan should drop me an e-mail at "omw@scalzi.com" and I'll send them the edition as an attached file. They should be able to tell me their unit/general location so I know they really are in Iraq/Afghanistan (sending the request from their ".mil" account will go a long way to help). People should know that if I get a whole bunch of people who aren't in those countries trying to get the text I won't be able to continue. So please, leave this version to the folks serving our country a half a world away.

I want to take a moment to thank Patrick Nielsen Hayden, my editor at Tor, and Tom Doherty, the Tor publisher, for letting me do this special edition. It's really something to go to your publishing house and ask permission to do something that might potentially cut into sales and have them come back and say, simply, "That's a great idea. Do it." From my perspective I may give up a few dollars in sales, but these folks are giving up a lot more doing their thing in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is just a small way to say "thanks."

So there you have it.

Posted by john at April 14, 2005 05:00 PM

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» Pst. John Scalzi is a cool guy Pass it on... from Dean's World

John Scalzi is decided to give something back: His book.

I asked, and Tor agreed, to make available a free electronic version of "O...

[Read More]

Tracked on April 15, 2005 12:53 AM

» Serving Overseas? from Mythusmage Opines
Whatever: A Special Edition of OMW If you're serving in Iraq or Afghanistan check out the link above. Send John an email or like communication and you could get an RTF copy of his latest. Read, enjoy (get a print-out... [Read More]

Tracked on April 15, 2005 08:43 AM

» John Scalzi's Old Man's War free for service people in Iraq/Afghanistan from Boing Boing
John Scalzi says, "Tor Books and I are doing something special with Old Man's War, my current SF novel: We're offering a free electronic edition (a 570kb .rtf file) for service people stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. We figure they're far from home a... [Read More]

Tracked on April 15, 2005 01:58 PM

» Free e-book for troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan from Dirac Angestun Gesept
John Scalzi, with the cooperation of his publisher (Tor), is making an electronic version of his novel Old Man's War available to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, as he notes on his blog. If you qualify, he has directions on... [Read More]

Tracked on April 15, 2005 03:53 PM

» Scalzi is "Da Man" from ProfessorBainbridge.com
Regular readers know I am a HUGE fan of John Scalzi's novel Old Man's War, which is probably the best military science fiction novel since Starship Troopers (and lord I hope they don't someday make OMW into as gawd awful [Read More]

Tracked on April 16, 2005 01:20 AM

» Open Post from Mudville Gazette
And a few recent stories we haven't forgotten: (Note: we'll keep bumping this up through the weekend.) Nominations for the Muddy Awards will be accepted through the day today. Tomorrow voting begins for the winners. John Scalzi has a free... [Read More]

Tracked on April 17, 2005 10:40 AM


Steve Eley | April 14, 2005 05:14 PM

That's very cool.

Greyhawk | April 14, 2005 05:26 PM

Awesome - thanks for doing this!

Jon H | April 14, 2005 05:31 PM

Goddamn liberal media, they're alwa...

Uh, nevermind.

debbie | April 14, 2005 05:38 PM

I just ordered my copy off Amazon.com.........thanks for what you are doing for our troops!

John H | April 14, 2005 05:41 PM

Very cool...

seratonin | April 14, 2005 08:11 PM

This is a really fantastic idea. Nicely done. (Nicely done to the folks at Tor as well)

mythusmage [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 14, 2005 10:29 PM

Call it advertising and expect an increase in sales. Especially with Glenn pushing it.

As the folks at Baen Books learned sometime ago, word of mouth is book publishing's best form of advertising, and freebies lead to great word of mouth. Expect a lot of requests from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a lot more sales in the U.S.

BTW, any possibility of extending the offer to people serving in the Horn of Africa, North Africa, Azerbaijan, and Central Asia?

John Scalzi | April 14, 2005 10:43 PM

Mythusmage: No plans at the moment, although it would precipitate to rule anything out (or in). I'm sure that Tor wants to see how this affects sales before expanding (or contracting) what we're doing. They own the electronic rights so it's up to them.

Baen is indeed an example that's been brought up. This is slightly different in that from what I understand Baen's free library stuff comprises of work in its author's catalogue, as opposed to their most recent release, which is what this is. But I certainly agree that giving people a long sample to check out will generate sales; it's been my experience with Agent to the Stars, and it's possible this will be a net benefit as well.

Kristy | April 14, 2005 11:41 PM

Wow. That's classy.

hey | April 14, 2005 11:49 PM

baen does have the free library which is limited to older versions, but they also give out lots of the content of their new books (up to 3/4) and also enable you to buy online easily.

its a horrible system, really, as i have bought so much from them and go to their site all the time reading about upcoming books...

they also release cds of author's earlier works in new hardcover books and as promotional items for booksellers, both of which they're very tolerant of sneakernet and torrent distribution.

again, its a bad system that takes all of my money and time, so i advise not following it ;)

Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 15, 2005 01:17 AM

Quick question (off-topic): I'm finishing a novel now, the first I've done that's publication-quality. I noticed that it's about 850K at the moment as an RTF. Just out of curiosity, is that figure you gave (570k) compressed, or is that the raw RTF? If it's the raw RTF, looks like I've got a 500 page book on my hands....

rick mcginnis | April 15, 2005 01:46 AM

Very, very good of you to do this, John. I wonder if you'd extend that deal to Canadian troops serving peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and elsewhere. I'm not sure our government funds them generously enough to put labels on food tins for them to read...

John Scalzi | April 15, 2005 07:37 AM

Dean: It's raw. But it's hard to make exact comparisons between larger text files.

mythusmage [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 15, 2005 08:39 AM


Hope it works out for you and Tor. Well enough that is for the offer to be extended to U.S. service personal on duty around the world.

If you can work out special shipping rates for hard copies going to service personal around the world it could help sales.

Captain Button | April 15, 2005 08:59 AM

Etiquette question: Would it be proper to post a link back to this whatever entry and related Instapundit entries on elsewhere? I read the "Military Fools" board at The Motley Fool and people there might be interested.


(The message boards require a paid subscription, although I think there may be a free trial period.)

- Captain Button (that's a nickname, I'm not a real captain)

Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 15, 2005 09:01 AM

John, believe it or not, with RTF files (so long as you aren't using compression with ZIP or something), you can make practically perfect comparisons between files. If the file is nothing but written text with no graphics of any kind, then two documents will the same word count will wind up the same K in size--within a few percentage points either way.

This is useful info. Thanks man--and thanks for supporting the troops like this. My co-blogger Andrew loved your book, now I'll have to go buy it just to thank you for doing this! (Good karma and all that.)

John Scalzi | April 15, 2005 09:03 AM

Captain Button: We definitely want the word out, since an offer like this does no good if the folks in Iraq/Afghanistan don't know about it, so please feel free to link back.

Pete | April 15, 2005 09:04 AM

Mr Scalzi -

I plan on buying a copy of your book to offset a free copy for a serviceman overseas - what a great gesture you are making sir...many thanks..

Greg Morrow | April 15, 2005 11:01 AM


Word count isn't the same as page count, however; dialog-heavy text, with short lines, is more paginose than description-heavy text, with big paragraphs.

Marty | April 15, 2005 11:24 AM

Very classy. Thanks for supporting the troops like that.

Dawn B. | April 15, 2005 12:30 PM

Well done, sir. Well done. If I hadn't already bought two copies, I'd buy another.

Jill | April 15, 2005 02:10 PM

Well done. I'm tempted to buy a copy of your book, and I don't even like the genre. You've been mentioned on BoingBoing, by the way.

Christopher Davis | April 15, 2005 02:34 PM

I'm not over there, and my brother's no longer over there, but that doesn't change the fact that I really appreciate what you, and Tor, are doing with this offer.

And, yes, this does push me those last few inches over my "but I don't buy hardcovers" line; I'll look for a copy this weekend, even though I've already read the library's copy.

(I would like to see a generally-available ebook of OMW, though I have heard that Tor's previous ebook sales were low enough that I was probably a visible proportion of them all by myself.)

Erbo [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 15, 2005 04:59 PM

What a terrific thing to do. This was a good reminder for me to get off my keister and buy my own copy of OMW now...

mythago | April 15, 2005 11:27 PM

Well, I know what I'm going to buy the next time an opportunity to a literacy program for kids asks for book donations.

Dan S | April 17, 2005 08:25 AM

Mr. Scalsi,

I was going to hang in there waiting on the paper, but I will add myself to the list of those nudged over into hardcover. I didn't really want to wait anyway, after seeing the reviews on Professor Bainbridge and Instapundit.

I wonder if there are bandwidth limits that may impede transmission. I'll bet it gets passed around more over there than downloaded directly.

But this is a great gesture to the guys and gals on the ground.

God bless them and you.

Captain Button | April 18, 2005 08:49 AM

Ok, I reposted in two places. I also stopped at my local souless big box store on the way home and bought the one copy they had. So put me down in the "pushed over the line" crowd.

Regina | May 14, 2005 02:01 PM

You rock...I found the book at the library last week and loved it. I spent 6 years in the Navy and read all the military sci fi I can get my hands on...this was great.

I had already planned on looking for your stuff when I finish moving next week, but now I'll DEFINITELY be buying at least one copy...perhaps an extra to send to a Sailor floating around the Pacific too :)

I'll let my friends in the catbox know about your offer...anything to pass the time is MUCH appreciated over there!


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