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February 21, 2007

On Electronic Editions of My Books

This is another one of those "I'm putting this online so I can refer people to it later," entries, since I'm getting two or three queries about this subject a week.

1. No, I don't know when my novels will be available in electronic format. That's all up to Tor, to whom I've licensed the electronic rights. I know they have plans to release the works electronically, although I can't share what those plans are at the moment, nor can I guess when those plans will go into effect.

2. Yes, I've communicated to Tor that I'd be happy to have my books in electronic format. The issue here is not author reluctance or even reluctance on the part of Tor; the issue is that Tor is part of a large corporation, and large corporations take their time making decisions.

3. Inasmuch as I've had one book available online since 1999, and have electronic versions of other books available to overseas military and to Hugo voters, I really don't need people to enumerate all the ways that electronic versions of my book would be a good thing. Yes, I know. I get it, really I do.

4. Yes, I am aware that pirated versions of my books are floating around on the Internet; in one sense it's flattering (yay! I'm popular enough to be pirated!), but on the other hand I can't guarantee that what you're reading is what I wrote; honestly, who knows what those crazy pirates are up to these days. If you find yourself in the presence of a pirated electronic copy of one of my books and are having a crisis of morality about it, relax. Read it if you want; if it works for you, consider picking up a physical copy later. Simple. If you're one of those hardcore "I want to pay you but I won't buy anything but e-books" sort of people and you come across a pirated copy, go ahead and read it, and if you like it, consider picking up a physical copy and giving it to one of your friends who still does all his or her reading old school. Again, simple enough.

5. When official e-book editions become available, clearly, I will trumpet their existence hither and yon, and there will be much rejoicing. Until then assume that if you haven't heard from me about it, they don't officially exist yet.

There, that should do it.

Posted by john at February 21, 2007 05:35 PM

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Eric | February 22, 2007 05:09 AM

6. Suppose I have a deep moral problem with the book distribution business, or I'm allergic to pressed dead tree flakes, or something silly like that. If I PayPal you 20% of a book's cover price because I ... um ... read it somehow, that's better than the royalty you get if I buy it at the store, right?

John Scalzi | February 22, 2007 08:48 AM

Well, doing so doesn't pay all the other people who worked on the book, including the editor, the copyeditor, the art director, the artist, the book designer, the publicist and the marketing people, and I'm sure they'd like to get paid, too. That's one of the things: A book is a group effort.

Steve Buchheit | February 22, 2007 09:42 AM

That, and I think Patrick would beat you with a stick because of #1.

BTW, John, last night TV flipping brought me to Mythbusters and an episode about "death by flatulance." For some reason, I thought of you. I didn't watch the whole thing (there's a short story I wanted to get finished), so I don't know the actual myth or the resolution.

Steve Buchheit | February 22, 2007 09:49 AM

not that I think Patrick is violent (I've never met him in person), but at least you would be in for some stern looks.

Sarah Barlow | February 25, 2007 12:39 PM

I want to say that I appreciate your support for electronic formats for your books. I love being able to carry an ebook on my PDA instead of damaging the paper book lugging it around with me. In a idealized pipe dream of a world, one could buy a paper book, and then pay a few bucks extra for the ebook version of it.

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