Various & Sundry, 8/23/08

Look! A bunch of little stuff!

* First, everyone who keeps pestering me about the “Hate Mail” winners will be happy to know I’ll be announcing the winners either Monday or Tuesday. We’ve had the winner’s names for several days, but I’ve been strangely busy. But soon the wait will be over. And it will be worth it.

* Second, people are wondering if they can find Zoe’s Tale in the YA section of their bookstore or in the science fiction section. The answer is that it’s in the science fiction section; while it’s written as YA friendly, it’s being marketed as adult science fiction, because (among other things) that’s where my audience has been so far. So look for me where you usually do, and, hey, if you’re not busy, steer a YA reader you know into the SF section. Even if they don’t pick up my book, they’re likely to find something else interesting to them.

* Third, Joe Biden. Seems a reasonable choice, although given that the GOP already has ads out attacking the man, I’m sure they’ll find ways to spin it as the worst thing ever. I’m planning to vote for Obama anyway, and this neither adds nor detracts from the decision; it would take a lot for me not to vote for Obama (and even more for the GOP into the presidency at the moment), frankly.

* Fourth, online I see some folks griping about the variable pricing for the electronic versions of my books and particularly Zoe’s Tale, the eBook price of which ranges from $9.99 to $24.95, depending on where you buy it. My response: Eh. Considering that at the moment the cost of the printed book ranges from $12 to $42, according to Google Product Search, it seems that variable pricing of goods is the general order of the day, and folks should just deal (also: don’t pay $42 for the book. That’s just silly). I understand that it’s annoying for one eReader to have cheaper books than another, but it’s annoying that my iPod doesn’t work with my Rhapsody account, too, and yet I manage to make it through the day. Life is full of random technological annoyances. This is, incidentally, an argument for buying the actual printed copy and then scanning it in at your leisure for your own private use.

* Fifth, I resent being 39 and having a zit. That’s just nonsense.

35 Comments on “Various & Sundry, 8/23/08”

  1. I resent the fact that I am old enough to have a daughter your age. She just turned 39 last Tuesday. But what good does it do me? Like my German grandmother used to say, “We grow to soon old and too late smart.”

  2. Hopefully scanning in what we’ve bought ourselves will continue to be an option for a long time. Those who’d like to plug the ‘analog hole’ seem to be far more concerned with other types of media, but the kinds of legislation they’d like to put in place would kill this kind of thing as well, I have to imagine.

    It seems with text though things are heading in a decent direction. I’m still not even half way through reading all my free tor e-books. I also have all the short stories from the web site on my phone as well. I’ve got more books on the memory card in my phone than I could ever carry home from the library as a kid.

  3. I am 51 and have a zit – you have so much to look forward to.

    (I was going to mention how, as you get older, the hair-line recedes, but realised that was redundant).

  4. I’m trying to stay on somewhat topic here to the various and sundry. First: Yay hate-mail winners! Second, for me, is the Biden VP nom (nom nom nom). I had never heard of the man. But I’m a registered Republican. And before the vitriol and spittle flows, I’m voting Obama. McCain is 8 years too late for his stride into the presidency. And I like Obama. He’s usually well-spoken. I think I remember hearing that (at the time) he was the only one of the three candidates (McCain, Clinton, Obama) that had not taken campaign money from Big Oil. I like that a whole lot. I’ve done a little light digging into Biden and he seems a sensible choice. At least it’s not Clinton.

  5. Suggestion to folks griping about the pricing of John’s books and/or ebooks: If you see Vendor A selling say, Zoë’s Tale for a really low price, and Vendor B selling it for a ridiculously high price, by all means, buy from Vendor A. That’s how the marketplace works, people. Shop around. Vendor B will either get a clue or go out of business soon enough.

  6. Just dropping an idea about selling ebooks from a friend that has a Sony eBook reader. And I know … you are not the guy. But you might be the guy who knows the guy…

    My friend’s claim (and I agree) is that some people would gladly pay full hardcover price at the time of the hardcover release for any eBook with the promise of a paperback copy when the paperback is released. I’m purely guessing that the incremental cost of printing a known number of paperbacks is low enough that this would make sense and make each “early” ebook purchase more profitable then each hardcover purchase.

    You could also imagine this set up as a (hopefully well run) coupon process where customers pick up the book at a physical bookstore. The advantages here are: 1. Lowering the “value” barrier to earlier ebook purchase at hardcover prices. 2. Getting customers into physical bookstores where browsing and impulse purchase are more likely. 3. Encouraging interest and continuation of a physical book culture (e.g. lending an favorite paperback) while enabling the better economics around digital distrubution.

    My apologizes if this is not a new idea, but it was intriguing enough that I thought it should be shared.

  7. Ah, ebooks and politics!

    Well, I’m voting for Nader, so I’ll leave you lot alone to, um, cheer your, um, guys.

    However, Teleread on O/B & DMCA/ebooks:

    Nikke Finke on B & Hollywood $:

    They do relate.

    And then I have a one-shot blog where I’m trying to see if I can yet replace p with e, and you can see the wild swing of prices:
    — hint: expand July to see each author name as post and then use Find if you want a certain author. Not many done yet.

    And, btw Scalzi, Hugo or not, zits become *boils* over 40. *cackle*

  8. Picked up Zoe’s tale today at Borders in Columbus. It was in the Sci-Fi section, face-out. Maybe three were left. Wasn’t as easy to find as I expected, but it was there. Think it was about $26. Haven’t cracked it yet, but looking forward to the read.

  9. “Fifth, I resent being 39 and having a zit. That’s just nonsense.”

    Oh, quit whining. I still get one every once in awhile at 42.

    My wife thinks it makes me look “youthful.”

  10. Ach. I’ve got oily skin like all get out. Zits are a fact of life unfortunately.

    Some things that have really helped me with an existing zit, after washing face thoroughly with some kind of soapy stuff…

    Clean & Clear Clear Advantage Spot Treatment
    It’s this clear gel that comes in a little tube and you put a thin layer over the zit. It helps shrink the thing. Can be a bit sticky after it dries.

    Clean & Clear Sensitive Skin Deep Cleaning Astringent
    I just put some on a cotton ball and apply to affected area when I don’t want the slight stickiness of the spot treatment gel. Applying it all over your face is just asking for dry flaky skin.

  11. […] variable pricing of goods is the general order of the day, and folks should just (also: […]

    A verb, Senator! We need a verb!

  12. Scalzi wrote: it would take a lot for me not to vote for Obama (and even more for the GOP into the presidency at the moment), frankly.

    A mildly intriguing way to phrase it. Just out of curiosity, may I ask what constitutes “a lot” in this context? That is, what would it take for you to change your mind about voting for Øbama? And if you did, would you change to McCain (who actually has little in common with GW Bush besides party affiliation) or would you go over entirely to the Dark Side and vote for some insane third-party radical like Nader?

  13. “(also: don’t pay $42 for the book. That’s just silly)”

    The hardcover of Zoe’s tale here in Australia is AU$49.95, which is about US$43 (and a month ago would have been about USD$47). That price does include 10% tax, but compared to Amazon’s $16 its still a lot. I could possibly find it a bit cheaper, but not much.

    Thats not really unusual, unfortunately – I’m not sure if books are cheap in North America or they’re really expensive here. There’s definitely something wrong when its cheaper to pay $10 to ship one book via Amazon than it is to buy it in a local bookstore, even if it takes 2-3 weeks to get to me.

    (BTW, I discovered you through the promotion, and immediately went out and bought Ghost Brigades and Android’s Dream, and have bought some other authors that were included in the giveaway. Someone in Tor’s marketing department deserves a bonus….)

  14. Heck, I’m technically a senior citizen, and *I* get zits. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a sign of impending second childhood, but then insanity returns and I decide that it really isn’t.

  15. I have both “Zoe’s Tale” and “Little Brother” on my recommended endcap in my bookstore. It is about equidistant from the YA and Science Fiction sections so I can easily steer customers from either section to them.


  16. I am told that once you are past thirty and get a zit, that the medical term is “elderly acne”.

    Doesn’t that make you feel all soft and squishy inside?

    Dr. Phil
    (about to be 50 and still gets ’em)

  17. Forget eBooks. I paid $25.00 for the hardcover of Zoe’s Tale t ArmadilloCon so I could get it 4 days before everyone else. I loved it and am happy to have read it, but I haven’t paid that much for a book in a long time. I usually order trade paperbacks or at least get some other deal or sale. that $25.00 hurt.

    Man, I am glad I’m not in Australia having to pay nearly $50. I might give up hardcovers for that price.

  18. @10
    Excellent suggestion, except that most people can’t. It simply isn’t possible thanks to DRM. If you have a Sony reader, only the most tech savvy would be able to buy any other format and convert. And no one can get the cheap price from Amazon if they do not own a Kindle.

    What I find most interesting is that the author know his novel is priced at a retail of $24.95 for the ebook edition, and he doesn’t seem to have a problem with that.

  19. @28
    I found his post on ebooks. I want to retract my previous statement to the author, and replace it with a “meh” in his general direction.

  20. Nate: I would then extend my argument to apply to ebook readers as well. Shop around, taking into consideration not just the price of the reader itself, but the price of the ebooks themselves, compatibility, if any, with other formats, DRM/no DRM, etc. Granted, this requires the end user to do a lot of research before buying, but no more than buying, say, a high-end laptop.

    Fortunately, I buy all my fiction in dead tree format, which may not endear me to certain environmentalists, but there it is. As John suggests, there is a considerable price range in those as well, but you can usually get paper copies from Amazon fairly cheaply, without paying $359.00 for their Kindle. The trade-off is that I have a lot of space in my house filled with books, which will be a lot of heavy lifting if I ever sell my house and move. :)

  21. @29
    Good point, I agree.

    But it does not help in most situations. If a buyer did the research you suggested when they bought their reader 6 months ago, the buyer would be stuck with whatever the price was for Zoe’s Tale in the format they already have.

  22. Nate @30: That is one reason I haven’t bought into the whole ebook idea, and am sticking with paper, at least for the foreseeable future.

    Another reason is I don’t want to have to worry about power issues (battery or AC) when I read a book. I can just see my battery dying while I’m reading the next-to-last chapter of a really good book. A third reason is I haven’t figured out how to get John to autograph an ebook. ;)

  23. As I Twittered the other day: “You know, when you’re on the far side of 50, getting a zit just seems like a cruel reminder of your lost youth.”

  24. I’m planning to vote for Obama anyway, and this neither adds nor detracts from the decision; it would take a lot for me not to vote for Obama (and even more for the GOP into the presidency at the moment), frankly.

    I was just speculating earlier about theoretical Obama tickets I would not prefer to McCain/anyone. I have to get into Obama/famous historical despot and Obama/comic book villain territory before anything starts to really trouble me.

    I would vote for Obama/Fin Fang Foom, though. I feel like I know where I stand with Fin Fang Foom.

  25. My main reason for voting for McCain has much more to do with the make-up of Congress, than for the pros and cons of the two guys pushing for the top dog seat. I can not imagine that a Democrat controlled congress that will rubber stamp anything Obama does for the sake of party unity will be any better for our country than a rubber stamp was for Bush.

    If I thought that control of Congress would swing back to the GOP, I might be encouraged to swing my vote.

  26. I’m in Munich, Germany, with my Kindle and picked up Zoe’s tale for $9.99 from the Kindle store (I also picked up Charles Stross’ Saturn’s Children as well). I suspect that with the world-wide market for books (for instance, bookstores in Germany are literally not allowed to discount books off cover price), this method of acquiring books cheaply will become more widespread. I’ve bought more books this year than I have in the past decade as a result of the Kindle, so I’m surprised that more publishers are not jumping on that bandwagon.

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