On the Matter of the Extra Material in the Hardcover of The Human Division

Over in the feedback thread for the serial run of The Human Division, there’s been a lot of comment and consternation about the fact that the hardcover/compiled edition of The Human Division will feature two extra stories, and what that means for the folks who have been reading along with the electronic release. I don’t want people to be in the dark about this, and more information is almost always better in these situations, so here’s the deal with that.

1. Yes, there is extra material in the hardcover/compiled eBook release. Specifically, the first print appearance of “After the Coup,” which has been available online since 2008 (it was in fact the first story ever run on Tor.com), and a new short story, called “Hafte Sorvalh Eats a Churro and Speaks to the Youth of Today.” The first of these is a prequel of sorts to The Human Division (it was the first appearance of Hart Schmidt and Ode Abumwe), while the second is a character piece featuring the alien Sorvalh, of whom I have grown fond. It’s a fun piece which doesn’t have a material effect on THD events in a general sense, i.e., if you don’t read it, you’re not missing out on a plot point.

Why put extra material in the hardcover release? One salient reason was to make the book appealing to print booksellers, who might have (quite understandably) been worried about how the electronic release would cut into their sales. That’s a fair concern, and as those of you who remember this breakdown of Redshirts sales might recall, print is a major part of my sales. Giving the print/compiled version that extra material seemed a good way to possibly alleviate bookseller concerns.

That said:

2. Yes, that extra material will be made available separately, electronically. Meaning that people who bought the individual episodes won’t have to buy the hardcover or compiled eBook edition to get it. Because making you guys do that would be a complete dick move. The hardcover/compiled release will have an exclusive window to those extras (see why above), but then it will be out in the world. More details on that will be forthcoming the closer we get to that particular release; don’t worry, I’ll keep you in the loop on that.

I do understand some of you will be annoyed by the wait. Sorry. The fact of the matter is that balancing the needs of both the online and print markets and audiences here in 2013 is a tricky and complicated beast, and this was one way of attempting it. If it makes you feel any better (and I know it won’t, but) the folks who preferred a print/compiled version have had to wait months while you were reading along ahead of them. I promise the wait you’ll have won’t be onerous.

3. We could have done a better job of making this stuff about the extras known. I noted in the comment thread mentioned earlier that Tor and I both noted that the hardcover would have some extra material in it, and that neither of us were being sneaky about it — we put it on the front pages of our respective sites, it’s on Amazon, etc. Despite that, people seemed surprised by the fact. Which means that we could have been better at communicating this fact earlier. Again, fair enough.

So: Sorry about that, folks. I’ll take responsibility for it, and promise to try to do better should something like this pop again, either with the next set of Human Division episodes, or any other projects of mine where that might be applicable. I don’t want you folks annoyed any more than you have to be. I apologize for causing you to be annoyed this time around.

53 thoughts on “On the Matter of the Extra Material in the Hardcover of The Human Division

  1. Yeah, I’ve preordered the print version and been REALLY patient! Thanks for no spoilers on this website!

  2. I can only speak for myself, but I was well aware that the collected The Human Division Season 1 would have material not in the episodes. I wasn’t, however, aware that extras would also become available separately (though “After the Coup” is already available, at least on Amazon, from when it was a tor.com original).

    Granted, a number of factors went into my decision to wait for the collected release, but the existence of those extras was definitely one of them. Still, I probably should have expected they’d be made available separately–as you say, forcing episodic purchasers to buy the collected release would have been a dick move, but not releasing the extras separately would have just been bad business sense.

  3. Hi John

    At the moment I am getting my fix via Audible. For us audio junkies will these extras be released as episodes on audible? And for those of us who might like to have the complete work in one file will there be a compiled audiobook?

  4. Thanks for the update, John. It’s nice to have it spelled out nicely for us, and I appreciate that you always try to make things clear and respect your readers.

  5. Extras, more stuff to read – one reader here really enjoyed reading the THD episodes and not getting het up about this. Thanks!

  6. One of the reasons I made the decision to NOT purchase the individual serialized episodes but instead get the collected edition was the possibility of additional material in that collection. I don’t recall when it became clear that there was the possibility of additional material; but it would have been around the episode 1/episode 2 timeframe. So, in my opinion and recollection, the possibility of additional material was certainly made clear fairly early on in the process.

    Really looking forward to getting my fingers on the finished product (well, as much as one can grasp a bunch of electrons; given that I’ve pre-ordered the collected ebook!).

  7. [Deleted because Bess does not seem to grasp that I don't want this conversation on this thread, and that it's my site and I make the rules, not her - JS]

  8. John,

    Thanks for the apology. I never attributed malign intent, I just thought you and Tor miscalculated in terms of managing reader expectations. You’ve banked a lot of good will by giving me nice value for my entertainment dollars in the past. We’re square.

    I suggest you consider some sort of sign of appreciation for the customers who buy an entire run of a serial as it is coming out. You’re asking for a leap of faith, since there is no practical way for a buyer to read reviews prior to purcahse. Even if the gesture is somthing as seemingly trivial as earlier access to or discount on any bonus material, it would be a nice gesture to reward that kind of loyalty. I think that’s what rubbed the wrong way about the hardcover book bonus material; it seemed like the latecomers were getting rewarded. Such an incentive may not be possible with this “season”, but please consider it for the next.

    Regards,

    David

  9. …a new short story, called “Hafte Sorvalh Eats a Churro and Speaks to the Youth of Today.”

    Geez, I wonder what could have influenced this particular story? On a completely and totally unrelated note, have you been able to enjoy your churro waffles lately?

    As for third issue, I seem to recall that you had mentioned extras for the hardback but never really made much of a point about it. I only remembered when I read this post, in fact. “Oh yeah, there are going to be extras in the hardback, aren’t there?”

    Juggling print and electronic publications is the writer equivalent of juggling running chainsaws, I’d imagine.

  10. I was always planning on waiting for the collected edition, regardless of the added content. Most of my episodic television viewing is done in the same way, by waiting for whole seasons to make it onto DVD or NETFLIX. I am not a fan of reading (or watching) just one bit at a time but rather gorging myself on content in large chunks. It’s how I watched LOST, how I am watching The Walking Dead and next month it will be how I read THD.

  11. I’m also curious about whether or not “Hafte Sorvalh Eats a Churro and Speaks to the Youth of Today” will eventually be released in audio. Hope so! I’d happily pick it up.

  12. First, +1 to what Laura W said.
    Second, in case there’s anyone wondering why there are those awaiting the print version, I have two good reasons. The first one is that I still don’t trust the e-readers. I’ve seen the stories of how Amazon, of it’s own accord, pulled books back from people’s Kindles after they’d purchased something. I realize this is rare, but the fact that it happens still gives me pause.
    The second reason is that I have a reading voracious, extended family. Books tend to be lent out frequently. Scalzi’s books tend to be in the highest demand. (I’m currently missing 5 of his books to nephews, in-laws and my father.) Lending books is still iffy (if it exists at all) with e-books.

  13. I lend and borrow e-books every day and twice on Sundays. (Actually, it’s mostly on Fridays.) But… many publishers don’t make their e-books lend-able, as my friends and I have found. “Human Division” isn’t, f’rinstance, and neither are children’s picture books, even when said ebook is free to download.

  14. Books are serious business, and I’ve found the e-book audience to be overly sensitive with a strong opinion about every attribute with a release (DRM, lending, price, length, etc).

    I don’t feel slighted in the least about a collected print version having additional content.. that’s kind of the point of having a collection printed after the fact- you need to throw in *something* extra to avoid a pure carbon copy. Otherwise, it should be released at the same time.

    We e-bookers get it early.. the print folk get it late with slightly more. Seems fair to me.

  15. I’m waiting for the book. I have managed to survive waiting for the book to be released. Even through the weekly marketing anouncements. Which near the end began to feel like a deliberate and malicious test of my patience. So if I can survive that torture, those of you who got the eBook a chapter at a time can survive until the time when management decides to release the non plot related tidbit. Shoot I’ve got another month plus to wait so quit yer bellyaching. Now, GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!!
    ;)

  16. Yeah, FWIW, I don’t think you have anything to apologize for. I’ve said before, I don’t do serials, so I haven’t read it, but I will when it comes out. You have been very upfront about the extra material, and that kind of thing is exactly what I would expect for a deal like this. And, anybody who isn’t happy with the way the book ends, well, that’s the chance you take every single time you buy a book. Don’t like it? That’s what libraries are for.

  17. I was one of the complainers in the other thread, and I appreciate your response. I am sufficiently mollified. I was (am) dissatisfied with the way Episode 13 ended, and since the extra story in the print edition has been called a ‘coda’ (one definition of which is “a concluding part of a literary or dramatic work”) I thought that I was having to wait for an integral part of the story. But I’ve read “After the Coup” and if the other bonus story is similar – a story I’m sure I’d enjoy, but otherwise not related to the story of The Human Division – then I don’t mind waiting. I understand the need to offer something special in the print version. Thanks for responding to the criticism.

  18. Wait just a minute. An ancillary character in a story that has no affect on the plot gets a frickin churro, and I, who paid good money — in good faith! — for each and every episode, get NOTHING?!

    That’s it. I’m out. Until I get my churro.

  19. I wonder who will try to sell me the dead tree book first.
    And I don’t mean ‘try to get me to preorder it.’

  20. On a related note, anyone know if all of us who bought the ebook episodes piecemeal will be able to get a free abridged version (or at least heavily discounted)…? You could use an epub editor & DIY, but that really shouldn’t be necessary if you’ve already paid for all of the content once.

    If not, that’s *extremely* disappointing, and probably just symptomatic of the issues I have with ‘big content’ I mentioned a while back. It’s like buying your favourite album over & over on singles/LP/CD/mp3, or movie on VHS/DVD/bluray & in multiple recording formats/versions – part of why so many are waking up to the wrought perpetrated on us by the content cartels since the 50s. I certainly hope John is heading in a different direction, especially after his couple recent run-ins with big content tricks/ploys I’ve read about here.
    [/soapbox]

  21. If not, that’s *extremely* disappointing, and probably just symptomatic of the issues I have with ‘big content’ I mentioned a while back

    I see that the fainting couches have made it over to this thread.

  22. I will patiently await for the electronic copy of “Hafte Sorvalh Eats a Churro and Speaks to the Youth of Today” – and I will re-read my e-copy of “After the Coup” (which I totally forgot I had). Thanks for the reminder, the information, and the heads-up to future updates on release timing.

  23. Despite the cliffhanger depression I’ll buy pretty much buy anything you write, John. Thanks for the print/ebook explanation. That made sense given the digital transition zone we’re all in at the moment. Really looking forward to where you take this story & definitely more Sorvalh!!

  24. I don’t think you should have to apologize- this isn’t particularly different than needing to buy a DVD instead of Netflixing something if you want the bonus material, or waiting to buy the box set of a television season instead of paying a big cable bill every month to watch it serially, and getting to see the deleted scenes. But hey, that’s just me.

  25. Speaking of extras…

    Where can I obtain a signed hardcover copy of THD?

    I will be overseas during all the tour dates I’ve seen, Mr. Scalzi, but will merrily pay for the privilege.

    I’m not looking for a special dispensation, just a source more reliable than eBay if it exists.

  26. Yup! no worries here. I am a weirdo die-hard print lover, so I have stupidly avoided the cool serial releases in favor of the oncoming hardback. Y’all all know the vast majority of the awesome I will read soon, so do not be pissy about it!

  27. As one who expressed concern on the other thread, thank you for this gracious response.
    I suspect that the underlying cause of confusion may come from the collision of different models and expectations of how things are bought and sold. Buying novels in episodes hasn’t been part of most people’s experience since the nineteenth century, and while some people are also familiar with other cultures, such as comics, where that approach may more often be found, many of us are not.
    I am used to a model of buying books with different format, price points, and availability dates – hardback or paper back, physical or virtual. I am not used to a model in which books are sold under the same title at pretty much the same time with different formats containing materially different content.
    That’s not to say that it’s a bad model, but it is definitely an unfamiliar one. Maybe it will become a significant part of the publishing market, and we will all get used to looking carefully at what different formats contain before making buying decisions. But that’s not where we are now, so it’s important for the message to be repeated not until publishers and authors are bored with saying it, but until readers have fully heard it. Though actually, it’s not really about frequency, it’s more about location. Readers can’t be expected to check authors’ blogs or publishers’ websites, the information needs to be clear at the point of purchase. The product description for episode 1 on Amazon reads:

    The opening episode of The Human Division, John Scalzi’s new thirteen-episode novel in the world of his bestselling Old Man’s War. Beginning on January 15, 2013, a new episode of The Human Division will appear in e-book form every Tuesday.

    I am struggling to see how anybody was supposed to work out from that there was anything more to The Human Division than the thirteen episodes.
    But having said all that, this is more niggle than complaint: this was an experiment, it seems to have been mostly pretty successful, but I offer the thought in the hope of making it even better next time.

  28. I wanted to wait to buy the book and read this all at once; I’m like that with TV, too. So, without any context other than following this experiment with interest, I can say that I think it’s about freaking time that there was any – and I do mean ANY – value-add to the hard cover other than paying for early adoption.

    With the advent of the e-reader, publishers tried all sorts of ways to make us buy physical copies. They were assholes about putting out the ebook version, often making us wait weeks. Then they wanted us to pay the same price for both (that lasted about 3 seconds, because really?). There was lots and lots and lots of squeaking about how to force us to buy those damn expensive-ass things. So far as I know, this is the first time I’ve seen them actually incentivize HC sales instead of trying to punish us into it. I think it’s fabulous!

    Do I mind if you get more if you pay $17 vs. the $13 I’d pay for the ebook? HELL NO. Am I tempted to buy the HC? I won’t lie, yeah, I totally am. That is the first time I can say that since I adopted the Kindle several years ago. So, haters gonna hate, but I think this is a damn fine idea.

  29. The ebooks/hardcover/publishing setup is confused at the moment, and you said (or I
    _think_ you said) that the release of The Human Division was experimental, when it
    was first mooted. I don’t really see that anyone has grounds for complaint – the approach
    mostly worked, and next time it will work better.

    (Fail. Try again. Fail again. Fail better – S Beckett)

    Will

  30. As someone who prefers physical paper in my hand whilst reading, I appreciate the added content in the hardback. I think it serves as incentive and reward for those of us willing to spend a few dollars more on a hardback book. I also admire the respect for the readers that have purchased the ongoing episodic version that you show by promising the additional content via e-reader at a later but not too far away date. Good job looking out for the fans…:)

    With that said, I’m still holding out until the paperback version comes out. Gotta love me some paperbacks.

  31. As one of those who complained about the extra content in the book, thank you for clearing this issue up and for responding to our concerns.

  32. “Why put extra material in the hardcover release? One salient reason was to make the book appealing to print booksellers, who might have (quite understandably) been worried about how the electronic release would cut into their sales. ”

    This just makes print booksellers seem a bit out-of-touch. Is anyone really going to buy the print version after the serialized one just to get the extras?

  33. You’re right, Smacky, it isn’t just to get the extras. Especially not when “After the Coup” was already e-published, and free at that.

    For me, it’s to get a hardbound copy I can shelve and lend/give. I already buy Craig Johnson (Longmire series) and Jim Butcher (Dresden Files) books in both bound and Kindle format. With this book, Scalzi’s writing has reached that point. I think Seanan McGuire’s there in fact, if not in planning, I’ve found myself getting her paperbacks for sharing, too.

  34. Yep, I’m another patiently waiting for the hold-it-in-my-hands, ink on paper version. I’ve had it pre-ordered for a long time. Why? Well, I want it, of course. But also, that e-book distrust thing. It’s a file, man, one that someone has made me pay for the lending of, it seems. Ever lost a file? Yeah, you see what I mean. I want the book. On the shelf, in my hands, feel the pages turning…

  35. Thanks, John! FWIW, I did see the note about extra material for the compilation when THD was first announced, and because of an obsessive sense of completionism, I decided not to buy the serial. Had I known the extra materials would definitely be available someday, I’d have gone the serial route instead of waiting.

    But the good news is that I can enjoy THD2 in serial form, knowing any extras will be available at some point after it’s published.

  36. at least, according to David’s in-depth analysis

    Eh. The thread got the depth of analysis it deserved.

    But if you want more, the issue I think was not the complaints themselves but the high dudgeon with which many were expressed. I can certainly understand wanting more closure in episode 13 or wishing that the coda in the hardcover was available electronically immediately but reading some of the comments you’d have thought that JS had gone to people’s houses and slapped them/their children/their pets.

    Fainting couches, indeed.

  37. No apologies needed. Read along with the weekly release, and enjoyed it immensely.
    However, Hugh Howey accused me of being a Luddite, I am when it comes to my reading material.
    I would buy (as others, I am sure) the print edition regardless of the inclusion of “extra content”.
    Actually I just wish you would get busy on the “Second Season”

  38. Thanks for the clear communication of what is included in the hardcover. I enjoyed the serial as it was nice bedtime reading on Monday nights (I’m on the west coast). Very happy to have a thoughtful expansion of the OMW stories. Wanted more closure in the story, but will be patiently waiting for the next book/installment.

  39. I enjoyed the episodic release. It was a fun way to take my time with the story and the additional material doesn’t bother me at all. I knew when I started buying the episodes, that my experience was going to be different/unique. As a result, the fact that it turned out to be different and unique isn’t bothersome at all. If anything, I’m excited to know there’s going to be more.

  40. Thanks. I bought it on Audible, where I couldn’t find an indication of the existence of additional content, so I was surprised and frustrated when I read the description on Amazon. I’m glad the extras will be available for those of us who thought we were buying the whole book–that’s decent of you.

  41. I passed on the serialized version, as I got the message about the hard-copy release getting the extra material, but missed the message that the extra material would be available digitally, just later. Not sure if, Pooh-like, I had a bit of fluff stuck in my brain, or what happened there, and at this point it isn’t worth further analysis on my part.

    But I do really admire you and Tor having the intestinal fortitude to take some of the blame, and work on it for the next round. Very classy.

  42. Like David, I’ve been baffled by the enmity being expressed over on the other thread. But then, for 6 months we’ve been hearing about how terribly unfair it is that some people will have to wait till May (May! That’s after April!) to read THD, just because they don’t own an e-reader, or don’t want to read the chapters on a computer, or are convinced that some Amazonian Big Brother (Big Sister?) will steal all their books! Now, what I’ve learned from reading that thread is that “a slap in the face” is the new “shoved down my throat”. And that the only rational way to express disappointment over a 99¢ story to to never buy another book from the writer ever again because clearly this is the worst insult ever. Seems that only sheer force of will has kept anyone from using the phrase “rue the day”.

    To me, putting some additional material into the compilation edition and hardcover seems like a painfully obvious value added feature. It’s like Scalzi’s forward to the recent addition of Haldeman’s Forever War, or (as many have mentioned) bonus features on a DVD. I don’t even think it balances in the favor of the compilation. We’re talking about a character piece about a minor character, and what essentially is a reprint of a short story whose events are alluded to in the book proper. Given that the hardcover lists at twice the price of, and even discounted will still cost 30% more than, the serialized purchase, I think the serialization is coming out ahead. I got to read the book sooner and for less money, and all it cost me was a tangential short? I’m pretty sure I’m winning here. (I realize that the compilation in ebook for is only 12¢ more than the serialization. But, I still read the book sooner, so I still think I’m coing out ahead. Also, I think we should all agree that, right now, there is very little rhyme nor reason to ebook pricing. Also, that’s a problem for another thread.)

    Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised. I spend a fair amount of time on Jim Butcher’s official discussion boards. For years, there had been no small bit of whinging over the Harry Dresden short stories. The events in the stories are canonical to the overall story, and have consequences that affect events in the novels, but had only appeared in various, multi-author, common themed short story compilations. So there was a sense that readers unwilling to buy the compilations were missing parts of the story. Then, a few years ago, Butcher compiled all of the Dresden stories into a single volume, and there was much rejoicing. Until… it came out that he had written a novela that would be included in the compilation. And now the readers who had been buying other compilations (despite the value offered by all those other authors’ work, were going to have to buy the stories again, and how terribly unfair that was. I guess sometimes you can’t win for losing.

  43. From the OP -“”The fact of the matter is that balancing the needs of both the online and print markets and audiences here in 2013 is a tricky and complicated beast, and this was one way of attempting it.””

    Inventing a new paradigm is work, no? When electronic publishing first appeared, did anyone think all the ramifications through? Impossible! So us dead tree types may get the last laugh anyway ;-)

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