Re: The Hugo eBooks Package: Patience, Please
Posted on March 23, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 28 Comments
I normally don’t ask people to forward on the posts I write but I’m doing it in this particular case, so feel free to point to this or repost it as you see fit.
I’m getting reports from various quarters that some folks have started to complain that the “traditional” Hugo Best Novel ebook package wasn’t available when the nominations were announced, like they were every year before, and that this is just another example of inefficiency/authors not caring/the violence inherent in the system/whatever.
My response to this:
This package isn’t “traditional” — it’s not even handled by the Worldcon or the WSFS. It’s been handled by me when I happen to be on the Best Novel ballot, and it’s brought to you not by the Worldcon, or by the publishers of the books, but by the individual authors of the novel, whom I have asked if they want to provide their texts. They are under no obligation by anyone to offer their texts; they do it because they want to make sure Hugo voters have a chance to see their works before voting. That’s it; that’s all.
Because this is organized by me, I tend not to know everyone who is on the ballot before the ballot actually comes out, so the assertion that these packages were available the same time as the nominations came out is just plain false. As it happens, organizing this package is not easy — even when an author wants to participate, they usually have to get the go-ahead of their respective publishers, some of whom are quite understandably twitchy about letting their product roam free in electronic form. Getting this permission is by no means assured, and it might take a little bit of time.
So: Yes, I’m working on putting a package together this year. No, it’s not ready yet. I’m working on putting it together as quickly as I can, with the help of some of the other nominees, but given that the Best Novels are put out by four different publishers, each with their own concerns and expectations, it’s taking a bit of time. Add to that the fact that I’m also trying to interest other participants in other categories aside from Best Novel to pitch in as well (because among other things, I’m nominated in more than one category), and that each of these require negotiations of their own, and you may begin to appreciate the co-ordination this Hugo package requires. It may be a week or two (or, hell, longer) until I get it squared away.
The point is: Please be patient, and please don’t just assume as potential Hugo voters this is something you’re owed; that seems a bit dismissive of the effort we’re making to get the package to you.
I don’t vote or anything, but thanks for doing this. It sounds like a lot of work.
I don’t get to vote either, but I wanted you to know that the violence inherent in the system is keeping me from downloading all those books to my Kindle in the next 90 seconds…
Wait, maybe it’s the part where I’m not voting that’s keeping me from doing that.
Curses! Foiled again!!
I do vote… and I just have to shake my head in disgust if this is the kind of attitude you’ve been getting from people. I really appreciated you putting together the package last year, because I hadn’t read several of the books listed, and while I didn’t like YPMU, I loved the rest of the books, and ended up purchasing the ones I didn’t already own, because I don’t really like reading text on the screen, but I was hooked on the stories.
To be clear, I think most people are happy and appreciative that we make the effort, and we’re happy to do it if we can.
Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
(Or I would be being repressed if I were a Hugo voter with a certain sense of entitlement, at any rate)
It seems, as usual, that no good deed goes unpunished.
Having done some coordinating of stuff, yes, it’s HUGE. Thanks for doing it–it’s above and beyond.
Haven’t been able to locate the voting deadline… am currently broke and wondering how much time I have to get a supporting membership and get my votes in. Ah, well.
Well, I thank you. Although since I;m not into reading long texts on the screen, I’m putting in inter-library requests for the ones I don’t own.
I’m not a Hugo voter, nor am I likely to be, but putting together the books for the voters is awesome.
It’s good to recognize when people do nice things.
So I want to thank you on behalf of those who were born in barns. (Because wolves would have raised them better.)
(I’ve had it with mean and rude people, in case you just thought I was sucking up for no reason.)
There you go again Scalzi – With your reason and your logic and your calm. Can’t you feed the obsessive, self-entitled trolls just a little bit? They are getting a bit thin ’round the middle.
Seriously though – That you take the time out of your schedule to do this is great, and I am sure there are far more people who are appreciative of your help on this than you realize. Good on you, sir.
But… but… I demand a shrubbery!
I’ve only voted so far once last year, and will do so again this year.
I had no idea this was a yearly thing. It was manna from Heaven to me last year, when I hadn’t read very much in the SF genre (and had been asleep at the wheel with respect to recent fantasy). I think the package was what actually converted me over to the genre more than anything else.
This year, through luck and the process of Reading Lots of Stuff, I’ve managed to buy and read almost all the final Best Novel nominees, except for one, Anathem, which I expect to enjoy in early April on my own dime.
And I’d just like to say, thank you for putting this all together (and thank you for doing it again this year).
By the way, why don’t you take time to translate the books in every language spoken by any Hugo voter ? This is a World convention !
@14: Since Worldcon is being held in Quebec, perhaps French would do.
Seriously, John, thanks for doing this this. There should be a separate Hugo award for organizing stuff like this, while at the same time displaying a remarkable tolerance for the clueless.
The downside of a web world where vast huge amounts of stuff are widely, instantly, available is the assumption on the part of some folks that they’re entitled to everything the moment they form the desire for it. And that if they can’t get it right then, somebody is meanly, deliberately stopping them. And they forget that things are available only because somebody took the time and/or money to make it so. And then they get nasty about it.
I’ve seen this on other sites where I hang out, too.
So thank you for taking the time and effort to do this self-imposed and generous task.
There should be a separate Hugo award for organizing stuff like this, while at the same time displaying a remarkable tolerance for the clueless.
Convince a Worldcon Committee of that and they have the power to create additional awards.
This can be either an “Additional Category” Hugo requiring the same nomination and voting procedure as a “regular” Hugo and which Is A Hugo, or the Wordlcon Special Award that Is Not A Hugo but is still given at the Hugo ceremony, recipient chosen by the committee.
I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing reaches to that level, personally. But I appreciate the thought.
hugh57 @15: Since Worldcon is being held in Quebec, perhaps French would do.
I’m certainly all for it ! — but to be honest I’m fairly sure that basically all WorldCon attendees can read English (with a possible exception in Tokyo ?)
What’s more disturbing is that none of the books nominated for “best novel” is even announced for a 2009 publication in French, as far as I know.
I’m also somewhat surprised that, for a convention held in Québec (thus presumably with a fair amount of French-speaking Hugo voters), no work in French (and especially from a Franco-Canadien) appears as a nominee in any category. Speak about a parameter “fiddling with the Hugos” !
It’s never seem to me to be particularly necessary to have free ebooks for the novel nominees. It’s not like anyone serious enough to vote can’t just go buy these. Free is certainly nice, and perhaps helps boost the votes, but…
The other categories are a different matter…these are often hard to find after the fact even if you are willing to pay. (Though in the past, Escape Pod has had most of the short story nominees…hopefully they will again.)
no work in French (and especially from a Franco-Canadien) appears as a nominee in any category
Non-English works are eligible, and even get a second-chance shot the first year they are published in English. Begged question: How many notable SF novels are first published in French?
The Campbell Award (not-a-Hugo) nominees this year are a VERY diverse group, with some Canadian and French connections.
#18: Just sayin’, John. Note that both require getting a future WC concom to actually agree on something in a timely fashion.
I really appreciate it! Thank you.
Tully @21 Begged question: How many notable SF novels are first published in French?
Lately — not that much, unfortunately. Due to the size of the market, very few French authors (in France, I mean — I don’t know the Canadian market that well) can afford to spend enough time on a novel to make it notable. Most of them, including the best, thus have day jobs, and their best-polished works (world-class fictions, I mean) usually are short stories rather than novels ; the readership for those is even smaller. Moreover 2008 wasn’t even a very good millésime here.
So it’s really not very surprising that no novel or short story in French did make it to the nomination, if only for economic reasons. But the analysis doesn’t hold for “fan” categories, for instance.
France being the second SF market in the world (or close enough), I suspect that things are even worse in other non-English speaking countries.
In any, Eric, note that any notable French SF novels get that double-shot at Hugo eligibility thanks to the English-language publication date clause. It’s specifically meant to adjust for the fact that most Hugo nominators are English speakers/readers, and so other-language works are likely to miss being sufficiently noticed by or available to them until translated, no matter how worthy.
I have been voting in the Hugos (with a few gaps) since 1980 and, as I said last year, I am terribly grateful for your work in putting a package together. And no, I don’t go out and buy all the best novel nominees, and works in the other categories, because this is enjoyment, not a paid job for me. If I am not familiar with something, it’s a real effort for me to get it (in Germany) and then get it read in time, and the expense would be considerable. However, as I mentioned here before, John’s effort in doing this resulted in multiple sales of many of those novels, as I loved some, bought them, bought multiple copies of some and spread them along, and was responsible for the choice of one as a book club choice.
For myself alone, I have purchased 11 books by authors on the novel shortlist last year which I definitely would not have purchased otherwise.
So, I think worth it in the end and leaving the voting as an informed reader benefit aside.And I am also very grateful for that aspect of it. But I don’t actually expect it, although I appreciate it.
Tully @25 note that any notable French SF novels get that double-shot at Hugo eligibility thanks to the English-language publication date clause. It’s specifically meant to adjust for the fact that most Hugo nominators are English speakers/readers
I’m aware of this clause, and of the efforts of the WSFS to level the field. I certainly have no better solution to offer, and certainly not any kind of quotas, or a specific category for non-English works, which would be somewhat disparaging. In English or not, any work has to make it to nomination on its own merit, and against the very best in its category.
Yet, the statistic are harsh. If no work in French could even made it to nomination in any category the year the Convention is held in Québec, I suspect that it will be some time before the Hugo (and the Convention itself) really becomes a “world” event.
Steve, I agree: it’s nice to get the novel nominees, but the real win is in the short fiction categories.