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The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

13 December 2006 Blog Home : December 2006 : Permalink

Why I Bought Those Books

I just saw this interesting pair of posts asking readers why they bought three recent books and reporting on the results. Well, somewhat late to the party, I shall list why I bought the most recent 6 books (it doesn't matter its the SAME reason for all of them) because just as I was about to write this post Amazon.fr delivered my latest order, one incited by a favourable US$ exchange rate, free shipping and the fact that it's practically Christmas.
The books are
All of the authors are published by Baen Books and all of these books - even the non Baen 3 - were bought because of Baen and specifically because of Baen's electronic publishing and related web promotional activity. In fact I have already bought the three Baen books in electronic form and reread them a number of times and my review of DOAM a couple of months ago was from a version that metaphorcally fell off the back of an electronic lorry too. None of this is coincidence. I recently praised (again) the Baen Free Library but it might help if I explain the process that has led me to where I am now.

Some years back I was a dedicated haunter of used book shops and the occasional Borders or B&N searching for interesting SF. Amongst the SF I found and enjoyed were David Weber's Honor Harrington series, although somewhat ironically I initially thought it was just Hornblower pastiche and avoided it for a while. I noted that Weber was published by Baen and also noted that many other authors I enjoyed were also Baen ones.

At some point in mid 2002 I found the Janis Ian article on music downloading - it is well worth reading in its entirety but in it there is a very specific section:

[... T]ake author Mercedes Lackey, who occupies entire shelves in stores and libraries. As she said herself: "For the past ten years, my three "Arrows" books, which were published by DAW about 15 years ago, have been generating a nice, steady royalty check per pay-period each. A reasonable amount, for fifteen-year-old books. However... I just got the first half of my DAW royalties...And suddenly, out of nowhere, each Arrows book has paid me three times the normal amount!...And because those books have never been out of print, and have always been promoted along with the rest of the backlist, the only significant change during that pay-period was something that happened over at Baen, one of my other publishers. That was when I had my co-author Eric Flint put the first of my Baen books on the Baen Free Library site. Because I have significantly more books with DAW than with Baen, the increases showed up at DAW first.There's an increase in all of the books on that statement, actually, and what it looks like is what I'd expect to happen if a steady line of people who'd never read my stuff encountered it on the Free Library - a certain percentage of them liked it, and started to work through my backlist, beginning with the earliest books published.

The article was inspiration for me to go and take a look at the Baen website, including the Free Library and the Bar. I downloaded a number of the free books, and then, a short while later, headed off to the related Webscriptions site to find and pay for the sequels and other interesting works.

Subsequently I have bought very few SF books from authors not published by Baen and I buy almost all my Baen books electronically first and convert them to paper ones only afterwards. In this case I also decided to splurge and buy some non Baen books from Baen authors that I like too.

So could a non-Baen author interest me? certainly but (s)he'll have to work things the Baen way and give me quite a bit of book to read first on a website. I'd also prefer to buy the book electronically, especially if the choice is between electrons and something that takes up more space than a mass market paperback.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin