On the OMW Free eBook Release

Today Tor sent out the e-mails with links to the eBook version of Old Man’s War, which is available to the folks who signed up at Tor.com in pdf, html, and mobi versions (so all you folks who hate pdf and whined about it last week — look! Tor listens!). So those of you who signed up, enjoy. And now that it’s out in e-book format, let me answer the questions some of you have asked me and/or I have seen people ask about OMW and an eBook or eBooks in general.

1. Oh Noes! I didn’t sign up in time to get the e-mail link! Can I still get Old Man’s War?

I have no idea how Tor is handling this, actually. I don’t think it’s Tor’s intention to have these titles permanently available on a free basis (legally, I mean — once they’re out on the Net they’re out); I think they’re meant to be a premium to get people to sign up for notification when the new Tor.Com site goes up. My assumption is that if you missed the official mailing, you missed out, although if someone from Tor wants to explain the deal, I think that’d be fine.

2. So, uh, do you mind if I get the eBook file from someone else/give out the eBook file to a friend?

Not really, but I’d ask you to be sensible about it in both cases. If you’re getting the eBook from other sources, you still ought to go over to Tor.Com and sign up for e-mail notification, because a) the new Tor.Com is gonna be something you want to know about and b) more free eBooks are coming (I believe next week is Spin, which won the Hugo in 2006) and c) it will give Tor’s masterminds a warm and glowy feeling that their gamble to bring attention to their new site is actually working.

If you’re giving out the eBook to someone else, well, you know, I’d say give it to friends rather than dropping it into the swirling seas of BitTorrent. I don’t doubt it’s going to get out on BitTorrent; that’s not the point. The point is you saying to friends, “hey, this is a good book, and I think you should check it out.” In other words, what you’re doing is very much like loaning your own physical copy to a friend. That carries a lot more weight than just random availability.

3. Are you afraid having it out there as a free eBook will eat into your sales?

Oh, I don’t know. It might nibble into the sales of the OMW paperback a bit; it might not. My own personal experience with eBooks is that I tend to read enough of it to know whether I want to read more, and then I end up buying a physical copy because I don’t actually like reading novel-length works on the computer if I can avoid it. So maybe sales will go up! And maybe they’ll stay the same. And maybe we’ll all be consumed by dingoes. Who knows?

Honestly, here’s the thing: the book has made me a fair chunk of cash and thanks to how royalties are apportioned, even if no one buys a physical copy of Old Man’s War ever again (which, well, seems unlikely), I’ll still be getting royalties through the rest of ’08. By which time I’ll two other novels out in the stores and a third on deck, and the royalties of the other books should be chugging along fine, and if they’re not, then I guess I’ll have to get a day job or something. But I don’t see that happening in the short run. The point is I would expect that thanks to the sales of other books, I should be fine even if I don’t make another penny off of OMW book sales.

And so when Tor asked if I would be willing to do a free eBook version of OMW up as part of their promotion, I was in a position to say “yes,” without any real hesitation. Because I’m curious about it, you see. Eric Flint and the folks at Baen Books make a strong case that having eBooks up boost author sales; other folks think doing so constitutes the End of Days for writers, the genre and so on and so forth, blah blah blah blah blah. I am in a position where offering up OMW as free eBook constitutes a low risk for me, because I’ve already made a fair stick from it and my career is chugging along nicely. Why not put it out there and see what happens? If it kills my OMW or other book sales, then now I know. If it helps them, then now I know that too. If it does nothing one way or the other, I’ll find that out as well.

Here’s my best guess what will happen: If anything, it’ll lead to a modest increase in sales overall. The reason for this is — if I may say so — OMW goes down pretty easy and most of the time people who finish it want to read what happens next. And guess what? There are two (soon to be three) books that let you find out what happens next in that universe, and aside from that are two (and relatively soon to be three) other books that let you see what I’m doing when I’m not fiddling around with the Colonial Union. So really, I suspect it’ll be a good thing.

Like I said, we’ll see. In the meantime, the chance I’ll spend any time fretting about it is fairly low.

4. Why didn’t Tor release the eBook in [format Tor didn't release the book in]?

Don’t know. Don’t care. You’re getting it for free. Deal.

5. I read the free eBook version and I want to reward you for your efforts. Can I send you money by PayPal?

Scott Westerfeld has a position on this sort of thing that I echo, which is that just sending money to the author is missing the fact a lot of other people work on the book too — editors, copyeditors, book designers, artists, art directors, publicity and marketing folks and so on. So like Scott my suggestion would be that if you really love the book and want to pay me for it, buy it (for yourself or as a gift) or pick up one of my other books. At a bookstore, even!

If you don’t want to do that but still want to send me money, what I would ask you to do is take whatever you were going to send me and donate it to Reading is Fundamental or some other literacy program. Thanks.

6. When will Tor put out eBooks of your other books?

Well, The Ghost Brigades is available for the Kindle right now. As for everything else, well, who knows? That’s a whole bunch of Tor and Macmillan corporate strategizing that I’m frankly not going waste a lot of brain cycles on. Yes, I know many of you want my books in eBook format; I want it too. But to be honest, at the moment, I’m more concerned about doing what I can to get my books in supermarket racks, i.e., get the books in front of people who don’t already have a clue who I am. I do know that Tor is working on getting eBooks out there into the market. Beyond that, I have to advise patience.

Any other questions? Put them in the comment thread.

88 thoughts on “On the OMW Free eBook Release

  1. I already have the paperback of OMW, but I like having a portable library on my Palm PDA, so I was very glad to get OWM in the Mobipocket format. By the way, I’ve gotten quite a few ebooks from the Baen Free Library, and more than once, I’ve gone to the bookstore and gotten the dead tree version after starting the ebook. I hope that happens for you, John.

  2. I swear to god, I never pimp stuff like this, but I just sent a nerdy friend a notification of the whole program, because I loved OMW and I loved Spin. I hope he doesn’t slap me for mailing him about it. But if he does — he lives in Dayton, and I’m going to encourage him to drive around Southwest Ohio shouting “SCALZI!”

    I’m sorry, I don’t even know what that means.

  3. I picked up a copy of OMW the day before you mentioned the mailing list opportunity. Which made me annoyed for all of five seconds before I remembered that, hey, it’s handy to have books in both formats, and now it’s easier to wave it at people I know who aren’t in my city and thus can’t borrow my hardcopy easily.

  4. Oh… html! Nice. I can just toss this on my 770 straight off. Nice to have even though I bought the paperback version long ago.

    One thing I’d LOVE to have Tor do when they sell ebooks is to use these same formats and leave the DRM off. I’d buy the ebook for at or close to the paperback price. I love paper, but when traveling it’s so very nice to load up the 770 with a bunch of books. And I’m running out of space for the bookshelves….

  5. I’m hoping Tor finally has acquired some clues here. The omens aren’t good, though. Niven and Lerner’s “Fleet of Worlds” (drool) showed up at Fictionwise this week at $24 for Mobipocket-encrypted version.
    If they wise up and start selling unencrypted eBooks at decent prices the way Baen has for years, they have an AWFUL lot of stuff I’d cheerfully buy.

    And yes, I’ve been effectively 100% eBooks for years, ever since my bookshelves started muttering death threats whenever I entered the library with a new one…

  6. Re: #1, in the e-mail I received, there’s a big “Forward this e-mail to a friend” link. I’m presuming that if one does so, it will still include the links to OMW, even if it’s too late to get a (legal) copy by signing up with Tor directly.

  7. this makes me very, very happy. I’ve already got it loaded on my blackberry and am looking forward to reading it.

    Free e-books fall into the same category as library books for me. I read all I can find. And then if I consider them rereadable I go out and buy the hardcopy, plus everything else I can find by the author, and the author goes on my “buy immediately” list.

    I am normally less likely to buy an author I haven’t read. Except if there’s a pretty cover. I’m a sucker for a pretty cover.

  8. So, having bought a paper copy a month back and finished it, I’ve actually got a *content* question on OMW. I don’t know if I’ve missed something in my reading, or if this is a question that Our Protagonist simply doesn’t have access to the answer to – and I don’t even know if you explained it in a later book, because I haven’t bought those ones yet.

    Warning: Minor spoilers for OMW, most of which are revealed in the first few dozen pages of the book itself.

    The question is this:
    Why is the CDF so adamant about ensuring that the Earth not know anything about the outer universe?

    I mean, they take the standard complaint about a military always being underfunded and the troops being given the bare minimum they need, but it seems that with the resources they could get by mobilising the Earth into production and training, they could easily overwhelm all the neighbours they’re having trouble with. After all, they’re holding their own and winning with the current setup. Why don’t they want the massive production and manpower capacity of the home world involved?

    I can see wanting to keep the Earth isolated from outside contamination – xenodiseases that can affect humans would be terrible, and there’s obviously lots out there that the CDF can’t be sure of, but why would they not want to tell the Earth about the nature of the colonial wars, and why *not* share the wealth of technology?

    It just seemed very odd to me, all through the book. And it seemed odder that none of the characters asked this question, either.

    thanks,

  9. Oh, and:

    Is there such a thing as a person the CDF won’t take? Or do they figure they can make literally ANYONE into an adequate soldier?

  10. Not only is there a “forward to a friend” link, there’s a link at the very top to view the message on the web, in case your email reader doesn’t parse the HTML correctly. The web version isn’t restricted.

    (Web marketing neepery: the state of email clients’ HTML and CSS support currently makes the browser wars look downright friendly, so the “view this message on the web” thing is standard practice. The “forward to a friend” feature exists because even if your client does display the message as intended, it will invariably mung the formatting when it forwards.)

  11. on #3… I’m sure you keep track of your sales, I’m curious too. Maybe you can report back to us on your statistics and see what, if any, effect the free book has had on sales?

  12. The whole thing is pretty fantastic. I took a good look at the Tor myspace page today too, even though putting activity on that account means some more spam for the next few days. (Shiela Hotpants want to be my friend?) I hope this works out well for readers and the publisher.

  13. I got the book and have to say thanks for agreeing to put this in the promotion. I don’t know that I’ll read it right away (I bought the trade and have read it more than once) but it’s great to have in e-format.

    I like the MySpace page and I’m looking forward to see what happens in future. Hopefully the Niven/Lerner is just the last gasp of the old regime method of digital releases, and that once the new system goes live they’ll start doing more books at decent prices without DRM.

    Even though they’re higher than I like I’d probably settle for Kindle prices if they came available for other platforms.

    My e-copy of OMW won’t lead to more immediate sales, but I know that lending out my dead tree copy to various coworkers already has.

  14. Geoffrey Kidd said: “Niven and Lerner’s “Fleet of Worlds” (drool) showed up at Fictionwise this week at $24 for Mobipocket-encrypted version.”

    Booksonboard.com has it for $19.37 — still not great, but lately BoB has been consistently cheaper for ebooks (for the stuff I’ve wanted, at least).

    (But yeah, this thing about selling ebooks for the price of hardcovers…. I like to see the industry get over that. The Kindle coming out has helped somewhat. If Amazon decides to offer software that lets people read Kindle books on other devices, I think prices would become even more competitive.)

  15. Yahoo e-mail users, if you can’t find your e-mail from Tor, make sure to check your “Bulk Mail” folder. I received the Mistborn e-mail fine last week, but the OMW got flagged as spam for some reason. I read this in another thread, but didn’t see it posted here so I thought I’d be helpful.

    Oh, and for the record, I’m one of those fangdangled readers who buys the physical copy of an e-book if he likes what he reads online. I already own a copy of OMW, but I will be purchasing Mistborn on my next trip to Borders thanks to this promotion. Just thought I’d point it out to any writers who wonder if this kind of thing will hurt their sales.

  16. John:

    Most of that stuff gets explored in the follow-on books.

    Thanks much – I was already planning to get them, but I suppose now I’ll have to do it sooner if I’m not going to let the curiousity eat me.

    Thanks!

  17. I’ve been forwarding OMW to friends using Tor’s “email to a friend” feature — this allows me to keep my hard copy of the book on my shelf (my Precious) and also introduce Scalzi to the ignorant few AND reward/inform Tor that they’re doing a Good Thing by making these books readily available (first one’s free, tell your friends).

    It’s a win-win-win, I think.

  18. Years back when you put out ATTS online and put that ad on, I think it was Penny Arcade, I downloaded it, read it, and blogged on it. You emailed me about my blog post and I was pleased that you had sold OMW, though at the time publishing it was a few years off.

    Sadly, I dicked around and never got around to reading it. But seeing the Tor.com promotion on Slashdot reminded me, so I went out and bought it earlier this week. Yeah, I know it was going to come to me in email format but I don’t really want to sit in front of a computer monitor reading a PDF and I don’t own an eBook reader.

    So, sorry for screwing around and not buying the book sooner but now at least I have two (soon to be three) more books in the series to read. Also I’m still mad that I didn’t buy the original ATTS on hardcover with the PA cover art but looks like I can at least buy that later this year, too.

  19. I wrote it in a comment to the previous post, but since it’s not easily discoverable I’m going to repeat myself…

    On Tor’s myspace page there’s a slideshow with the coverstof this books:

    Jane Lindskold, Through Wolf’s Eyes
    John Scalzi, Old Man’s War
    Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn: The Final Empire
    Jo Walton, Farthing
    Cherie Priest, Four and Twenty Blackbirds
    David Drake, Lord of the Isles
    Charles Stross, The Family Trade

    I suppose that, with Spin, they’re 8 of the 12 free ebooks Tor’s going to release.

  20. I wish I could forward all books in this manner to my friends.

    I have noticed that:

    - people are more likely to read a chunk of a book they get in email; and then
    - they proceed to buy the book because nobody wants to print it out and not everyone has a Kindly Kindle of Kindleness.

    It works for technical books, and it’s not like we read those for pleasure. Um. Much.

  21. I just wish Jim Baen was still around so he could see his big gamble becoming gospel truth. He tried very hard to negotiate a deal with Tor for Baen Webscriptions to publish Tor e-books, and the deal unfortunately fell apart within a few weeks of Jim’s untimely death. Jim would be very pleased.

    Walt

  22. I’ve decided to appropriate “And maybe we’ll all be consumed by dingoes” as my let’s-get-real rebuttal to anyone who hyperventilates about changes in media formats, the death of newspapers, “ePiracy”, et blah-blah-blah. Hope that’s okay with you — I’m willing to consider a modest royalty agreement . . .

  23. Well, I got the confirmation email from Tor today (I registered about 5 days ago), but no link to the download. Did I just miss the deadline? Bummer. John indicates in point 2 that Tor lets your forward the linked email, and he doesn’t have a problem there. Would anybody mind forwarding to me?
    kxwolmar@sbcglobal.net

  24. And if I’ve already bought (and read) OMW, and Ghost Brigade, and The Lost Colony, and the Sagan Diary (both in book and MP3 format) (and Zoe’s Tale (originally written tail, huh) when it comes out and no, I didn’t bid on the early edition. I can wait), does it matter if I get it electronically?

    I guess not. Oh, I have TAD, but I haven’t read it yet. Soon.

  25. John,

    I’d be interested in seeing if the free OMW helped the sales of the next two books. Get the first one for free and all that.

    In Boston last weekend Charlie Stross said that Tor is getting very close to a new ebook scheme, of which this is probably the leading edge. The letters DRM were not mentioned, so hopefully they’re doing it late enough that they’ve seen what a mess it’s made in other industries.

  26. >>Today Tor sent out the e-mails with links to the eBook version of Old Man’s War, which is available to the folks who signed up at Tor.com<<

    Unless you never got an acknowledgement from Tor that you had registered and since then the server says it has to wash its hair every night and never has time for you. As in, for example, my case. (Is it my European IP number, Tor server?)

    Bah. Also, QQ.

  27. Got my download just before lunch here. I wasn’t going to start reading it today. I made the mistake of scanning the file to make sure it had downloaded properly. Started reading the first chapter while I ate lunch. And read the entire damned thing…

    Now I need to go and buy Ghost Brigades. The first hit is free. :-)

  28. Mobi version? Oh, Tor, I love you with a big sloppy lurve!

    John, I’m hoping that you’re another data point for free ebooks increasing sales. Partly because you’re just a nice guy and therefore I’d like to see you make more money, and partly because I don’t think it’s the End of Days for Authors [TM] at all and would hate to be wrong. ;) So yay for more data points, whichever way they go, but I hope they go in a happy direction for you.

    Also, if Cherie Priest’s first book ends up a free ebook, I’ll snap it up even though I already have the dead tree version because one can never have too many ebooks.

  29. Got my copy this morning. Reread the first and last chapter, still just as good as it was the first time (and the second time, and the third…nevermind).

    I’ve got two dead tree copies of OMW already, hardcover and paperback, because I like to reread books and PB’s are easier to pack into my computer bag on the airplane. I take stuff on trips that I know I like, long airplane rides are not for new stuff, it might be crap and then I’d be stuck with it. I signed up for the TOR downloads, and I buy e-versions (which is how I discovered the goodness of Peter Watts), because eventually I’ll have a library of cool reading on my tablet and won’t have to carry hardcopy at all. Which makes me happy.

    Thanks.

  30. I don’t think it’s Tor’s intention to have these titles permanently available on a free basis

    I just checked the link in the email I got last week (for Mistborn) and it still works. Not that this means it will be available forever, but for those who missed the early registration it is still possible to get the previously released ebooks…

  31. Kris @ 29

    Just forwarded you the email. Hope you haven’t got too many of them already, and hopefully it goes through all right – let us know how it works. If well, then others will know you’ve already got it.

    Oh, and John – awesome of you to take part in this little experiment/promotion. I’ve been pimping OMW to everyone I can find, this will let me do it even easier.

  32. Anecdotal evidence on the question of increasing sales: I would never have picked up Mistborn on my own. Having received it in email, however, I printed it out, read it, loved it, and immediately went and bought the sequel.

  33. Just got mine; I’ve been reading your blog for some time, and was always wondering how your books were, but couldn’t get my lazy ass to a library or bookstore.

    Good stuff! I’ll have to venture out into the unknown for the sequels sometime.

  34. One dog-eared copy for lazing in the tub, one good copy for the shelf, and now one ebook for sharing and traveling. Life just doesn’t get better.

  35. Small print from Tor’s website sez:
    “Within a day or so of sending us your address, you should receive an email with a download link for this week’s free book. As different free books are swapped in, about once a week, you’ll get further emails with different download links. This program will end when the site launches, but you can keep the free books; we won’t be erasing them with our orbital attack electromagnets. (Yet.) Did we mention, watch the skies?”

    I signed up about ten minutes ago and expect that tomorrow I’ll be able to download OMW. I’d be willing to post a follow up about whether I actually get the e-mail tomorrow if there is interest.

    I am likely to buy the hard copy (if I like the first chapter or so) since I’m not a huge fan of reading long works on a computer screen. Even though I work in IT, I still prefer some things the old fashioned way.

    In case you are keeping track, I subscribe to the RSS feed of your blog on LiveJournal.

  36. Could I get someone to email me the link for Mistborn? I signed up after it came out.

    I did the same thing as Jules@33 – looked through to make sure it came out all right and ended up reading the whole thing :) Time well spent.

  37. Damn! I did not have time to re-read OMW yesterday. And now I have to re-read TGB and TLC. Gah… your books are too damned good.

  38. Another voice in support of ebooks— it’s a great way to test-drive an author, particularly if your local branch of the library is small. Then you go buy, or at least I go buy. Because you never know when the publisher will stop printing the thing, forcing you to haunt used bookstores. (I am singling out the editors of Sheri Tepper’s True Game series, who have put one of the three trilogies set on that world in omnibus format— and have left the other two out of print. After nearly a decade of searching I have two (out of nine) books to go— and they’re both from the out-of-print series. Damn them, anyway.)

  39. Tammy: Could I get someone to email me the link for Mistborn? I signed up after it came out.

    Check your email…

  40. I got the email today. I started it at work and by the time I got home, I had only a few pages left. Tomorrow I’ll be picking up the next two books.

    thanks man

  41. So I got the e-mail today, and have read the book already, and loved it. I can without a doubt say that the next book(s) I buy are going to be books written by you.

  42. I just consumed Old Man’s War this evening, via PDF format on my XO. I don’t feel a need for the hard copy, but I did pick up The Ghost Brigades a few days ago, so make of it what you will.

  43. I remember reading OMW when you posted it online years ago to see if a free distro/donation model would work. I really enjoyed the book and intended to donate, but never did. Always have felt bad about that and has nagged in the back of my brain for 5 years.

    A recent WWdN post got me back here today. After reading this post and 5 minutes on Amazon, I’ve got the trilogy (soon quadlogy?) coming in 5-9 Super Saver days (plus a copy of Rummel-Hudson’s book which sounded really amazing).

    I’m sorry that I contributed to your donation test failing, but wanted to say that your writing impacted me over 5 years to come back and try to make good on that promise.

    Thanks.

    Lou :)

  44. So I just finished OMW.

    Real review to come once I stop sobbing like a little girl.

    Scalzi, you are amazing.

  45. Hmm, I got the Mistborn e-mail days ago, but didn’t get the OMW one today. My ‘welcome’ e-mail from Tor last week was caught in my spam filter, but I checked and no other tor.com ones wer caught–and the Mistborn e-mail didn’t get caught. Maybe I’m missing something. Did the OMW e-mail come from tor.com again?

    Psniff. I own OMW and most of Scalzi’s books already, as I already owned Mistborn–but would like to have the ebook versions. ;-) Well, no biggie, but kinda weird….

  46. p.s. as long as folks are sharing the love–if someone wants to use the forward-to-a-friend link in the e-mail to send me the OMW one…. (grins) I’d appreciate it greatly! But if you do, please post here so folks know and I don’t get 30 forwards. Thanks in advance, fellow Scalzi fans.

  47. Kendall, just remember to sign up at tor.com after someone sends you a link. That way you get more free eBooks, and you make my editors happy.

  48. If I’m reading her comments correctly, she *is* signed up for the newsletter, she just has not received OMW. Mistborn came through, but not OMW.

  49. Julia: Duh I’m an idiot–meant to type this: kendall …at… his.com. Sorry, late at night and my brain’s not working. ;-)

    John: I am signed up. ;-)

    Julia: I’m a he. ;-)

  50. B. Durbin- Which two books are you missing? I have extra copies of a couple of the True Game books. There’s nothing worse than wanting to re-read a book and not being able to find it.
    Fisher at mail2biker dot com

  51. Sorry, Kendall….I know way too many females under the age of about 20 who share the name with you, see.

    It’s been sent to that address. Enjoy!

  52. Thanks, Julia–got it! :-) I greatly appreciate it!

    (BTW I have a female cousin named Kendall as well; in our case, it’s a family name.)

  53. Cool… got it yesterday… my first Scalzi book ever!

    I’ll have to read my it tonight, once the kids are in bed and I can get into the Haze.

    Thank you to Tor Books!

  54. This might be one for PNH to answer — has the ebook edition got its own ISBN number and bibliographic data? I want to be *accurate* when I enter my copy into LibraryThing, you see…

  55. I have it, it’s on my Palm TX, and it’s already my “current in-progress ebook”. (Pushing aside my re-read of James Alan Gardner’s Ascending, too, which is saying something.)

    This after I’d already bought the hardcover and mass-market paperback versions (skipped the trade, I hate the form-factor). So, I won’t be a new sale for you, but if the others come out in ebooks they will be mine, oh yes, they will be mine, even though I have those in hc/mmpb as well as appropriate (and available; Amazon says I have to wait for July to get TLC in mass-market).

    Jules Jones (#72): Ah, yes, I should start entering my ebooks into LT. For that matter, I should get in gear about entering my dead tree books.

  56. Just finished reading ‘Old Man’s War’. Thanks John Scalzi! I can join the real world again. At least until I get my hands on a copy of ‘Ghost Brigades’.

  57. I’ve now read both books released by Tor as part of this promotion. I will be purchasing the sequel to the first book (The Final Kingdom, the first novel of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson) as soon as I find it/get around to getting it from Amazon.

    I finished OMW today, as an ebook, but before I did I found the sequel at a book store I just happened to be near and bought it.

    Let me tell you why this is significant. OMW had been recommended to me in the past on a couple occasions by someone who’s reading interests dovetail nicely with my own. This is important because I have very little time to read and am very very selective about where I spend that time. I love reading, there’s never enough time to read all the books I would like so I have to make Hard Decisions (TM). Yet even though this book was enthusiastically recommended to me, key non-spoiler components of the story related to me in highly dramatic “you gotta check this out” fashion, and even though I’m a Whatever reader, I have never before purchased or read one of Scalzi’s books.

    Why? Simply because he wasn’t on my list of vetted authors whose books I always enjoy. Like I said, no time, I have to filter somehow. Yes I know I’m losing out, it pains me, but.. no time.

    Downloading and reading the ebook was a no risk proposition that allowed me to vet Scalzi and not feel terrible if he just wasn’t doing something I was into. Scalzi is now on the list, I’m sure I will buy more of his books and Tor has already gotten a sale from me only because of the Ebook release. This didn’t cost them a sale for OMW because in all likelihood if I had ever read it, it would have been as a loaner or a library loan rather than as a purchase.

    Oh, just as an aside, I read OMW in nearly one sitting. Over night. I had to run some errands and the last 50 pages had to wait until I got back. Even though I’m exhausted today and operating on literally no sleep, I don’t regret a minute of the time spent. That, my friends, is a good book. Thanks, John, for all that hard work.

    For those who may be counting, that’s two of Tor’s authors whose books I will be buying going forward that I probably would not have purchased had they not given away freebies to begin with. They must have hoped or planned for this, I just wanted to confirm it for them. I go to all this effort to lay this out because giving books away has been very successful for others (Cory Doctorow) and I want to encourage others, such as Tor bean-counters, to continue down this road.

  58. You know, I don’t think I ever mentioned to you how proud I am of you (I know, weird, huh?). I was one of the “beta testers” for OMW, loved it then, love it now, and have read it three times since then. A friend of mine signed up for the Tor giveaway and LOVED your book as well (she wasn’t expecting to, which cracked me up – she’s a romance novel nut). I’ve encouraged her to hunt up “Agent to the Stars”. Is it still available around here somewhere? Anyway, just wanted to drop you a note and wish you a heartfelt congratulations for all of your wonderful and deserved success!

  59. Heh. I read 10 pages of OMW, and immediately bought ALL your other books. Including preordering “Zoe’s Tale”. How the hell did I miss you when OMW first came out?
    Oh ya. I bought OMW in paper, too, just cause it seemed the Right Thing To Do.
    My GOD, but you can write!

  60. This is anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but I read most of OMW Friday instead of doing my actual job. I sent it to three other people via the TOR “share this” functionality. At least one of those people spent most of the day reading it, too. However, he will be buying a copy to read because reading on-line hurts his eyes too much. In fact, he was trying to persuade his wife that finding a bookstore was more important than groceries last night when I left them. In the process of discussing OMW with him, another friend got interested and asked me to write down the title. I expect him to buy a copy also. And, naturally, we all plan to buy the next books in the series that aren’t free.

    No, I don’t think it’s going to eat into your bottom line much at all. Rather, it’s doing just what TOR intended, selling books via the best kind of viral advertising possible.
    Well done, Mr. Scalzi. Well done, Tor!

  61. As far as the impact on sales, I would agree with, and be an example of, your theory that sales will pick up. After receiving the pdf version and picking away at it over the weekend it became obvious that I wanted to devote more time to the book than my eyes would allow me to be staring at a screen. Not the mention discomfort provided by the molten laptop sitting on my crotch. So I walked down the local bookery and picked up a copy. Mission accomplished!

  62. A quick postscript: I had sent a frustrated e-mail to Tor via the link on their site (or the welcome e-mail? I forget). I got a reply today from Megan at macmillan.com and she was sympathetic and e-mailed me the ZIPed up HTML version. :-) Tor rocks!

    Sure, I’d already downloaded the PDF version via the e-mail Julia so very helpfully sent me, but I also appreciate the quick customer service from the publisher. (??? Is Tor part of Macmillan?)

  63. Hi John, you could say I’m new to your blog.
    I discovered it right about the time you wrote about Tor releasing OMW. Considering that I just want to say that I’m amazed at just how much you can write in a day, be it real content or just rambling…(and I don’t mean anything bad with that, I’m just amazed…) Then, this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering you’re an author, right?

    Anyway, it’s interesting that after you got one of your books turned into eBook, and BTW I’m not a SF reader but your writing on this blog made me wanna read your book and see if there’s anything to that SF field after all… but I’m digressing…

    Back to what’s interesting: I just read a book that’s got some good points on changes happening in the publishing world. As you mention, and I’m just paraphrasing: some people think eBook is good, others think it’s bad.
    Well, this book talks about these inevitable changes coming and predicts authors like you will be getting even more power, which you could judge by it’s title btw: The Rise of The Author.

    Anyway, it’s an interesting read and I immediately though of you (yet, you have absolutely no clue who I am, isn’t it a wonderful this online world?) and I can only recommend everybody to read it. And not just people in publishing industry like yourself (I’m not a part of it).

    Right, the book is free to download, and I don’t know for how long because it seems to be part of the promotion of Mark Joyner’s new Simpleology course, Best Selling Author.

    You won’t find it at simpleology.com though, you want to go to http://www.simpleology.com/p/riseoftheauthor/uncover/

    The course is released tonight, but I hope he leaves the eBook available after that. Otherwise, sorry for such a short notice, I only read it myself today…

    Cheers,
    Dom

  64. I just want to say that I really enjoyed Old Man’s War. As such I went to the bookstore yesterday to get Ghost Brigades. Well that’s why I went, but neither store had those in stock. They had copies of the others in both stores, but no Ghost Brigades. I did manage to find it online but I’m disappointed that I have to wait for it to get here.

    Bummer!

  65. Y’know, I’d signed up at Tor’s site weeks ago, and got a notification to go d-load Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn”, just waiting for OMW (even though I already have it (you signed my copy at last year’s LA Times Festival of Books!))… but I never got another email from them!
    Just went and signed up again!
    Do I need to do that every time?
    Am I gonna miss OMW and go right to the R. C. Wilson book that’s next?

  66. You can at least console yourself that you got Mistborn … I’ve had no response to my registration attempts so far and am 0 for 2 ebooks.

  67. Chris: After signing up again last week, I did get the Wilson e-mail this weekend. So hopefully no need to sign up every time. ;-)

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