Zoe’s Tale Out in Paperback

Today’s the day: Zoe’s Tale officially hits the shelves in paperback form. If you’ve been holding off on getting the book until it was presented in this easily transportable and affordable form, wait no longer! Or at the very least, wait no longer than it takes to get dressed, hop into the transport of your choice and enter the bookstore of your preference, find the book and pay for it. And of each of those, I’d put special emphasis on the getting dressed part. I mean, not that I have a problem with you purchasing the book while completely naked. I celebrate your choice. But store employees and taser-happy cops may beg to differ. I’m thinking about you, here.

Moving away from your clothes and toward the book itself, I have to say in many ways Zoe’s Tale has so far been simultaneously one of the most gratifying and frustrating publishing experiences I’ve had. Folks here know that I’m insensibly fond of the character of Zoë Boutin-Perry, in part because I expended so much effort on trying to make her realistically both female and teenage, rather than a convenient teenage girl-shaped version of me. She’s the character I worked the hardest on so far, which makes her special to me (and also, I’m pleased with how she came out, which is not so bad either). I wanted folks to meet her and like her. Beyond this, there was the additional challenge of going back to readers and saying, “so, yeah, remember the last book in the series? Well, this one covers the exact same timeframe. Wanna read it?” Which reasonably might make some readers feel like they’re being taken advantage of. So to have Zoe be both a Hugo nominee and Locus finalist — both science fiction awards voted on by readers — well. It makes me happy, and it makes me feel humbled. And proud of Zoë. I know, I know. Just a character, not a real person. Don’t care.

So that’s the gratifying part. The frustrating part is that one very large chunk of the book’s intended audience — teenagers and in particular teenage girls — have little if any awareness of the book . This is because despite the perception within the science fiction community that Zoe is a YA book, with nearly all the reviews and commentary about the book nodding in that direction, the fact is that the book was marketed as adult SF and shelved there rather than in the YA section. To be clear, this marketing strategy was one I was aware of and which had my approval and involvement, so this isn’t a kvetch about Tor, and I will thank you not to consider it so. They’ve been great with supporting the book. I like they wanted to see if a book like Zoe could help bring YA readers into the adult SF/F area of the bookstore.

The answer seems to be: not so much. Anecdotally, while adult SF/F readers are happy to cross into the YA aisles (note Little Brother and The Graveyard Book, marketed as YA and both also on the Hugo ballot and finalists for the Locus YA novel award), it seems a bit harder to pull off the trick in the other direction. Zoe’s Tale has done just fine in terms of sales and presence within adult science fiction — trust me, I’m not complaining about either of those — but in terms of YA, it’s not even on the radar. This is an interesting datum and a case study for science fiction publishers to consider when they are considering how to lure all the YA readers gobbling up YA-oriented science fiction and fantasy into the adult SF/F section of the bookstore, but it also has consequences for Zoe. I was recently asked what teenage girls had thought of the book; I replied that all three of them who have read it loved it.

Which is, you know, frustrating. I am delighted with and appropriately thankful of Zoe’s success with adult science fiction readers; I would like to see it picked up by younger readers as well. Because — crazy thought! — I think they might enjoy it. We’ll see what happens with the paperback.

That said, allow me to ask you adult readers to consider doing me a favor, which is that if you like Zoe’s Tale, talk up the book to the YA readers you know. Although it ties into the Old Man’s War series, it’s written to stand alone, specifically because we wanted it to be accessible to first-time readers, and younger readers. So if you’d consider talking up the book to YA fans you know, I would appreciate it. Not because it might sell more copies of the book (although that wouldn’t be bad) but because, well. I just think it would be nice for Zoë to make friends with some people her own age.

I know, I know. Just a character, not a real person. Don’t care.

79 Comments on “Zoe’s Tale Out in Paperback”

  1. Has Tor given any thought to publishing a Tor Teen edition in trade paperback? They’ve done it before, with Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow. They could then print an ad on the endpaper listing other OMW titles available in the adult section. Just a suggestion.

  2. I bought a copy of the hardback version as a Christmas present for my niece. While she’s not a big reader, after opening all her presents she did pick it up and start looking at it. Even before she started looking at a copy of Twilight that she also received. So while I’ve not heard back on her thoughts on the book as a whole (she apparently inherited my & my brother’s inability to write to family); the book does appear to have some appeal.

    Though she might have started looking at it first since her name also happens to be Zoe.

  3. It might have helped if the cover’d had a picture of Zoe, instead of, y’know, explosions.

  4. Hugh57:

    Booksellers as a rule are quite resistant to two editions of the same book in different sections of the store. The OSC books manage it because the books sell thousands of copies week in and week out. It’s much more difficult to make the argument for something like Zoe’s Tale, which doesn’t have 20 years of sales history behind it.

    So the answer is yes, Tor has thought about it, but it’s not likely to be feasible unless the book does very well in MMPB.


    Previous cover art discussion here. Short answer: Cover art makes perfect sense for adult market, but yes, it is also one reason I need people to convince YA readers to give the story a try.

  5. Congrats on the paperback release. It’s weird that the Amazon listing for the paperback doesn’t link to the Hardcover or even Kindle version.

  6. Looks like I’ll be heading to Borders today. Exciting! And fully clothed, too, since Scalzi reminded me.

  7. As others have suggested, has Tor given thought to a YA-shelved and YA-artworked paperback print of ZT?

  8. Ah, my posting refreshed and I saw your comment… too bad that they don’t want to shelve it twice… you would think it might benefit them to do so.

  9. I wonder if publishing a second Zoe story as a YA next time, and listing Zoe’s Tale and OMW in the back, would have any affect on young readers?

  10. Zac:

    Publishers don’t generally publish a second book to draw attention to a first book. That’s kind of backwards, economically speaking. It would make better sense simply to start a new YA series.

  11. Congratulations on New Book (or at least New Edition) Day!

    Just fyi: following the same sort of discussions above, I know of at least two indy bookstores and one major chain store who have made a serious effort to stock and promote ZOE is the YA section. (And at the chain store it was a 14 year old volunteer who was allowed to set up the display.)

    May be a drop in the bucket, but there are some booksellers and a lot of readers who Get It.

  12. I’ve gotta turn the zoom down on the browser, because in paperback it looks HUGE!! “Scalzi’s biggest book EVER!!”

  13. As soon as I got my copy and read it, I gave it to my cousin who is herself, a teen girl. She loved it. (so that makes 4 now) In fact, she demanded all your other books so I guardedly let her borrow my signed copies of the rest the the OMW series. All accounts is that she enjoyed them as well.

  14. I see kids reading a lot of fantasy right now, but not so much science fiction. I am not sure how Little Brother is doing, but I suspect the same phenomenon. I have heard lots about LB from adults and genre fans. Are the kids lugging it around in their backpack? Nooooo… (They are all reading BONE right now, actually.) I tend to think it was a mistake for Tor to package it as adult sf. I am not sure that connecting it to a series called “Old Man’s War” is really going to up the appeal for the teenaged girl crowd. I know that would not have been a selling point for me.

    It does sound like a fun book, though, and my guys are always looking for bedtime stories. (It’s okay for boys to read, no? Because we are all about boys over here, and yes they WILL read books about girls–just no kissing. Or not very much. Okay, but skip that part. Well, you can read it, but I want it known that kissing stuff is bad and painful for me.)

    I find it amusing that you envision your blog readers as people who sit around in their pajamas until given instructions for the day by you.

  15. See, the thing is, the rest of the series in which “Zoe’s Tale” resides is emphatically NOT YA. If I gave “Zoe’s Tale” to my kids’ friends to read, they’d then go get “Old Man’s War,” and I’d have parents at my throat for letting their kids read a book where the main characters all screw like bunnies in one of the first chapters, and other interesting plot details that aren’t necessarily congruent with the world-view of church-going parents. As a result, the whole series is fine for my older son (age 16) and Zoe makes a good entry for him, but not my younger son (age 11) or, frankly, the friends of my older son.

    Really, it’s self-defense. Does that make sense?

    (And when I was 13, I got in trouble for bringing home “Monty Python’s Big Red Book.” This taught me not to bring books home. :-) )

  16. I use my librarian-y powers and I shelve our copies in the YA section of the branch. I’ve noticed that is goes out pretty steadily.

  17. As a middle school librarian, having it listed as “Adult” is problematic. YA is generally the highest that I go in my fiction collection. I am far from alone in this. In addition, there are districts with very specific selection policies that likely forbid folks from doing so.

    If I worked at a high school, it would be less of an issue *in my district* but might still be a problem elsewhere.

    I guess what I am saying is that Tor likely missed out on a segment of the book-buying world – school libraries – by not calling it YA.

  18. JS @#4: So in other words, we all need to go out and buy ZT, so that Tor can see it’s selling a kajillion copies and justify publishing a YA trade edition, in order to introduce legions of teenaged girls to SF and draw them into the broader SF-buying community.

    See, it’s not just about John’s mortgage: The future of Science Fiction rests on you going out right now and buying ZT.

    Works for me.

  19. It’s funny, you say “Anecdotally, while adult SF/F readers are happy to cross into the YA aisles (note Little Brother and The Graveyard Book, marketed as YA and both also on the Hugo ballot and finalists for the Locus YA novel award), it seems a bit harder to pull off the trick in the other direction” and I am (and was) exactly the opposite. As a single 40 year old male with no kids, there’s zero chance of catching me in the YA section. It’s just not a good idea, and is just not going to happen. If you market the book there, it doesn’t matter how good it is, I’m never going to see it.

    But when I was thirteen, on the other hand, I also would not have been in the YA section of the bookstore. I was already a voracious reader of SF at that point, and most of the stuff in the YA section that was any good was also shelved in the main section (eg, Heinlein juvies, L’Engle, etc.). My friends who were similar readers were the same way.

    I guess things have changed in the last 30 years.

  20. Roxanne–that’s a very good point. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more trouble I am having following Tor’s logic. It’s like putting the junior girls’ clothing in the menswear section, hoping that the teenaged girls will love the outfits so much that they’ll start buying wing tips and ties. It rather seems like, instead of marketing to the YA market, they were trying to retain the readership from the OMW series.

  21. Will do if I can, Cap’n.

    Being a mid-twenty something, the only teenager I know is a cousin who seems to get bored by reading. She has tons of books and to my knowledge she hasn’t finished any of them. She’ll see something she likes, start reading it, then just seems to forget about it. I have a theory that she just hasn’t found the right kind of book yet. Maybe Zoe’s Tale will be that book!

    I’ll pitch it to her if I ever get the chance. I’m thinking I could work up a powerpoint presentation full of pictures of young people, big slobbery dogs, and a photoshop of a spiders merged with giraffes (with a big Flava Flav style necklace) to depict Hickory and Dickory. That should work!

  22. Catherine Shaffer:

    “I find it amusing that you envision your blog readers as people who sit around in their pajamas until given instructions for the day by you.”

    I resent the implication they get into their pajamas without my say so.

  23. I would like to present “Zoe’s Tale” to my YA readers, I even have a few regular readers in mind. But, gosh darn it, the book hasn’t hung around long enough in my new book section to get the chance :)

  24. Scalzi @4: I guess that makes some sense to not want two editions of the same book. I remember once seeing two nearly identical box sets of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy at a B&N. The one in the Teens section had a list price considerably lower that the one in the adult SFF section. As far as I could tell (both sets were shrink-wrapped) the content was identical. So I guess I can understand the concern that one edition might undercut the other.

  25. You know, I have a 15-year-old daughter and yet somehow I never thought of this book for her (my son likes your books a lot). Maybe I’ll pick it up one of these days.

  26. Hello John! I just ordered the mass market for the teen section of my library.

    One of the difficulties in selling this book to my teens will be that cover. It’s a fine cover to be sure, but ain’t exactly teen-friendly. I’ll try my best, though! :)

    & thanks for the mention about YA lit! It’s always great to see an adult author saying awesome things about it. You’ve no idea how disparaging it is to see adults, & even adult authors, talking shit about stuff they know nothing about.

  27. @17 – I was reading the adult Heinlein books at 12, all of Anne McCaffrey’s books (can’t think of a single main character who didn’t sleep with someone at some point during the course of a book…including Menolly who was her YA star), Laurell K. Hamilton’s books (granted, this was before they went off the deep end), Mercedes Lackey (has a gay main character in her most popular Valdemar series), and a couple of years back I ran an Anne Bishop fansite for her Black Jewels Trilogy. Most of the fans on my site were my age at the time, 16 or 17 and her books are fairly adult and violent in that they deal with child abuse and molestation. I came out ok.

    In comparison, Scalzi’s OMW books are relatively tame–I wouldn’t say that, sex-wise, they are more adult than Anne McCaffrey and she’s considered family friendly. And, better, they deal with the subject in a mature and forthright way…he sets a good example in his writing, I think. (Now, Android’s Dream has a bit that squicked me as an adult, which is rare…but that’s a different series…)

    (I’m 26 now, if it helps.)

  28. I’m another librarian who’s a regular reader of both your blog and your books. When Zoe arrived at my library, I quickly snatched a copy and made sure it was cataloged for our Young Adult section, after which I positioned it enticingly on the new books display there. It went out quickly, so there is hope!

  29. New cover art is required. My teen loved Zoe, but had to get past the exploding ship on the front. How about a picture of the colonists? or the planet?

  30. Tor has, in the past, repackaged popular series for a YA market. I remember this being done with the “Wheel of Time” series, where I believe at least the first book was split in two, given a new cover, and marked “YA”. I’m not certain if it ever went past that one book, though, and/or whether it was Experiments in Marketing for the firm.

    That’s really where I falter at seeing “Zoe’s Tale” as a YA novel. The cover. I know, it’s redonculous, don’t judge a book, etc., etc., but I don’t look at that art and think of my nephew and buying him a copy.

    I know Tor is trying to maintain a “look” for the OMW covers, and I know it’s unlikely to happen, but I really think that if the book’s going to crack the YA market, it needs a different cover. And change your last name to “Scalziriffic”. And add a talking chihuahua voiced by Eddie Murphy. Yeah.

  31. Another thought… it might have been easier to lure YA teenage girl readers from YA to general pop at the bookstore with a series that started in YA then moved to gen pop (so you have an audience with a built in hankering for your product) than in the other direction.

    Also, re: “But when I was thirteen, on the other hand, I also would not have been in the YA section of the bookstore. I was already a voracious reader of SF at that point…” Until a few years ago I didn’t know bookstores *had* separate YA sections. If they existed in the stores I frequented as a teen I didn’t know it and when I was done with kiddie books I first raided my oldest brother’s book shelf then followed JRRT directly to gen pop.

    I’m pretty sure that it was Ms. Rowling that finally introduced me to the concept of the YA section and happy I was to find it.

  32. We were supposed to have pajamas?!?

    The outcome of the experiment really surprises me, as well. You wouldn’t have caught me in the YA section (assuming it existed then in its present form) as a younger reader for the same reason you wouldn’t catch me there now- the few good reads don’t seem to make up for the general intelligence insulting vacuity and passive agressive smuttiness you have to wade through in order to find them. To this day, I feel like I need to wear a sign when I enter that part of the store, saying “I’m looking for Terry Pratchett. Really.”

  33. It’s silly say this but but I love that you wrote:

    “I know, I know. Just a character, not a real person. Don’t care.”

  34. Perhaps asked and answered in the misty memories of history, but why “Zoe”? It’s kind of … gothy, rather than sci-fi-y.

  35. Ummm…one copy of the hardback in a Pittsburgh-area Borders store migrated from the Adult SF over to the YA shortly after it came out. Completely by itself. I may have to stop and see if the paperback does the same thing. (Not to say that it wasn’t just re-shelved later, but I…I mean, it – it thought hanging out in YA was worth a try.)

  36. My 12 year-old daughter loved it. She never would have found it or read it if I didn’t give it to her. She reads a lot and is always on the hunt for the next book. She likes adventure, mystery and romance, just like everyone else. I know you’re tired of hearing it, but neither the cover art or the title sell that, even though the book fits the bill.

    I love the cover art, but then, I like space ships and explosions
    with my romance and adventure.

  37. “…,find the book and pay for it.”

    You get paid for books that are shoplifted, right? The stores bought them, and didn’t return them, so royalties are payable.

  38. I find it somewhat ironic that whenever the topic of YA comes up adults are exhorted to stop being so narrow and go look in the YA section while we give teens a complete pass and are fine with them not checking out the regular sections.

    Perhaps it’s because there was no YA when I was that age, but I never thought anything of wandering around in general fiction and SF. I find it a bit sad that teens today are so catered to that unless it’s in YA or if it has the wrong cover they won’t consider it. But then…

  39. I saw it in paperback at the L.A. Times Festival of Books on Saturday and considered picking it up – as it’s the only one I don’t have yet – but as the rest of the series is sitting in hardback form in my shelf, I want to get this in hardback too.

    Yes, I know, I’m being silly. I don’t care.

  40. Rasselas@41, where on earth do you get the idea that the name Zoe is gothy? It’s Greek. It’s not the most common of names, but it’s not like, Leticia or similar names no one really names their kids but legions of goth girls adopt.

  41. @Rick, on the one hand, you have a point. On the other hand, I think it’s more about giving adults credit for being, you know, adults: generally more experienced, open minded, independent thinkers. Whereas teens? Not so much. There are always exceptions of course, but I think it’s actually been proven that teenage brains aren’t as good at some things (like decision making) as adults. Therefore, holding teens to the same standards just doesn’t work.

  42. One point of clarification for several comments, here. YA actually applies to preteens, or maybe very young teens. You hit 14 and you’ve pretty much aged out of YA. While some kids in the YA window may enjoy and be ready for books written for an adult audience, YA fiction does a generally better job of presenting characters and themes that appeal to them at that stage of life–especially competent, appealing characters just slightly older than they are.

  43. ok. i’ll buy the paperback, read it, and pass it along to my 10yr old daughter.

  44. Renatus@47: I am not unaware of Zoe’s roots — perhaps I should have stated the question as “the sort of name that girls who read a lot of Neil Gaiman and call Joss Whedon by his first name call themselves in high school.”

  45. As a bookseller and the mother of a teenage girl, the problem in my store isn’t that people don’t know Zoe’s Tale is YA, its that they are to busy selling it to adults to “care” about the twilight obsessed girls that want the new vampire thing that’s all the craze. I am the person who has bought just about every person I work with a copy of Old Man’s War if they seemed even the smallest bit interested in it, and after my hitting them on the head with a hardback of Stephen Kings IT, they will be interested let me tell you. (They buy the rest of the series on their own, without any assistance from me.) :)

  46. ok, ok, so we’ve all discussed the cover to death. But can I at least say “I told you so?”

    Campaigning now for it to get an awesome YA-friendly cover in some foreign edition that has not come out yet…

  47. Rasselas@51: Okay then. You must be familiar with some really, ah, nonstandard goths.

    Although what does it matter if it’s a ‘gothy’ name or not? That seems to be a totally irrelevant concern.

  48. Anecdote about my copy of Zoe’s Tale I think I bought a copy of the hardcover in October at a science fiction convention but had it on my Amazon wish list. I neglected to remove it from the list before telling my husband that my list was updated for the holidays and a family friend who works at the Borders located in the North Hills section of Pittsburgh bought it for me for Christmas. When I unearthed my copy in the book pile to read, my husband expressed surprise and I said, “Yeah, I did remove it from my list after I noticed it was still on there but, apparently, too late.” I never got the present but learned of its purchase from my husband. So, I wonder if the returned present was the one that Pegkitty in #42 saw.

  49. I haven’t read the comments so this may have already been sugested. If so sorry.
    All you have to do is knock out a few YA’s of the same quality as your other stuff. Then when the young adults have read all of your YA stuff they will end up in the adult section looking for more of your stuff.
    I mean how many of us started on RAH juvies and went straight to his other stuff?

  50. I gleefully grabbed my copy this afternoon at the local B&N. I had been waiting for the easier to transport (and alas cheaper) edition impatiently since it was first published. Just a couple of quick notes. There were several copies on the shelf (6 or so), but…. It was only shelved in the sci-fi section with the rest of your books. It was NOT in the new in paperback kiosk everyone always checks first. It was NOT in the new in paperback shelves of the sci-fi section. Although I quickly found it, I was disappointed it wasn’t more prominently featured as a newly released paperback. Although, I will admit that it was a ‘facing out’ book.

    Now to quickly finish the last couple of chapters in the book I’m currently reading so I can read this one!

  51. It’s an ongoing difficulty in both directions: either from Adult to YA or vice versa.

    Even when there are two editions with different formats and covers, as there are for my Abhorsen novels in the USA, booksellers tend to put them all in the same place. Which for those books, is usually YA, even though the trade paperback is intended to be shelved in the adult SF/F shelves. Some chains even have a policy that they will put all editions in the same category, no matter what the publisher intends.

    Part of the difficulty stems from a confusion about what YA actually is, and this flows through publishing, bookselling, the critics, libraries, parents etc. To me, YA is a subset of adult, and should be considered in that light, not a subset of children’s. So YA is OK for high schools and the young adults there, but not for middle schools. This confusion is not helped by pubishers trying to label books that are very much children’s books as YA and the fragmenting of the category into “Upper YA” and “Lower YA” etc

    More specifically to ZOE’S TALE, I like the cover fine, but in terms of it being a package that would appeal to both adults and young adults (i.e. teenagers) it probably isn’t quite right. The tag line “An OLD MAN’S WAR Novel” is the killer. That’s likely to make many teens and in particular, girls, not even pick the book up. Funnily enough “Old Man” and “War” are not keywords to attract teenage readers.

    But of course, the tag line will make many existing Scalzi fans pick the book up, thus illustrating one of the many conundrums of how to package books. Typically you always do package for the core audience and hope to go out from there, so Tor probably did the right thing.

    What might work better is a relatively minor cover change in a reprint, to replace the tag line and the Booklist quote with a suitable recommendation from, say, Scott Westerfeld, whose UGLIES audience I think would like Zoe, and a Westerfeld quote would also not discourage somewhat older adult potential purchasers.

  52. So, for Christmas this year, I hunted down a copy of Zoe’s Tale and a copy of Little Brother for my younger cousins for Christmas. When I gave them the books, the only condition I set was that if they didn’t want/like it, to give it to somebody who might. Of the two of them, I expected the boy (for whom I’d gotten Little Brother for) to like the book and the girl (whom I had gotten Zoe for) to be ho-hum about it. It was the other way around, actually.

    I’d asked my cousin if she’d read Zoe yet in March, and she said, no, she was busy reading stuff for her AP classes, but she was still interested and had it on her list for when she got some time.

    I’ll report back when I know more.


  53. Oooh you all have given me an idea! I am going to use the exploding cover art to convince my almost-teenage brotherto read it! (Can I still call it a gift if I read it first?)

  54. I ordered the book yesterday from amazon, along with the sagan diaries, android’s dream and agent to the stars, and some bookes of Michael Z. Williamson, unfortunately I’ll have to wait about 3 weeks to get them, but it’s well worth the wait

  55. Got my copy Friday night. The employee who saw me select it was amused to hear of the directive concerning removing books from the shelves via purchase prior to official release date, once she let me get to the punchline. She said it was a refreshing change, but not from what. Angry authors demanding that their books not be sold early? I dunno.

  56. I’m curious, how does Tor track whether teens are crossing over and reading the adult books? (I assume Tor is the one supplying this information.)

  57. @58 – the RAH juvies might be shelved in YA now… they weren’t for a LONG LONG time since there was no YA.

    @Megan… adults are more reasonable? (think back to campaign… ) :) Yes, teens are teens, but I and my friends found the regular sections just fine at that age… I’m sure this generation could too.

    @scalzi. 100 pages in, was chuckling to myself at 3am. Fun read as always sir. Thanks.

  58. Paperback ordered. I’ll be seeing my nieces soon, so it will be in their hands by the end of the month. BTW, I liked Enzo’s former home, Pomona Falls. We’re fairly flat, actually.

  59. I purchased a copy of the Zoe’s Tale paperback on Tuesday. I understand that there’s some desire to cross over into the YA market, but the local branch of my big-name bookseller had secreted all copies of the novel away in the dark, hidden bowels of their “back room”. After several passes through the store proved to my dismay that Zoe’s Tale was not to be found (displayed prominently or otherwise) on any of the shelves, I spoke to the counter clerk. Upon mentioning the title of the book, she first cast a quick glance left and right—presumably to ensure that no one had overheard my utterance—and quietly admonished me to keep my voice down. Or maybe she didn’t; my memory is a bit fuzzy.

    The clerk consulted her computerized inventory and informed me that, yes, the book was in stock, and she would have a copy retrieved from the aforementioned dark, hidden bowels. She may have mentioned something about it “just coming in” and how they “hadn’t had a chance to shelve it yet”, but I’m pretty sure that’s all code for “this isn’t the sort of thing we want our customers to see”.

    Moments later, after I was fingerprinted and both of my retinas were scanned (yes, both; I thought it was a bit excessive), an unassuming woman who may or may not have been wearing dark sunglasses and ducking in and out of the rows to avoid being spotted by patrons whose sensibilities were clearly more delicate than my own brought forth the book. Digital funds were transferred, the book was placed in a plain, brown paper bag and I was escorted from the store, a firm hand on my elbow and a whisper in my ear suggesting that I might find another bookseller if this sort of thing represented my general literary preference.

    All things considered, it was one of the more pleasant trips I’ve made to that particular store. At least there weren’t any latex gloves this time.

  60. Interesting experience in Canada. The local store has 17 copies but none on the shelf as of 9pm on the 29th. At chapters.ca you can see how many books are in stock at each store. To see Toronto and its surrounding cities, enter the postal code m5w1e6 (if you just look at Toronto, you miss the suburbs). Lots of stores have 15 or 20 copies, some have 0.

    Up until a few months ago, my local store had about 4 computers in the store to search for books in stock and which section it was in. They were a table with a keyboard and basic lcd screen with the computer hidden in a cupboard below and networked out somewhere. Any commodity computer would have worked for this. Recently, they were all replaced with large iMacs with touch screens and a built in printer. You can search for a book and get a 2″ by 4 ” printout of the book details. I buy “Old Mans War” instead.

    So, a month ago I read about Zoes Tale on io9 and go to get it and find out it won’t come out until 28 april, so I put the printout in my wallet as a reminder – mission accomplished for the new technology, right? I go in yesterday (29 april) at 9 pm and it isn’t on the shelf, but it says they have 17 copies. One copy of Old Mans War and 2 of Agent are on the shelf in the SF section. I also know the corner of the store where they have carts full of books waiting to be shelved and it isn’t there either. (That’s where you can find the hot political books that CNN says won’t be available for another 3 days :)

    So they can spend maybe $8000 for slightly better functioning computers but not enough on staff hours to be caught up on shelving :(

  61. Oddly enough, the new BSG spin-off Caprica also has a spunky teenage girl named “Zoe.”

    So I guess “teenage girls named Zoe” is the big new trend in SF.

  62. I read Old Man’s War when it was one of the Tor.com launch ebooks. And a few days ago I realized I had read 4 of the 5 novels on the Hugo ballot this year, all except Zoe’s Tale, so when it came out in paperback I bought The Ghost Brigades, The Last Colony, and ZT, and have been tearing through them. I’m about 100 pages into ZT now.

    No complaints about the art on the cover, but I noticed that the cover, in the Booklist blurb, refers to the previous book in the series as “The Lost Colony.” I had to go back and look at my shelf to reassure myself I hadn’t been telling people the wrong title for three days. Is this a known error?

  63. I bought a copy of Zoe’s Tale (in HARDCOVER!!) for the library I clerk at. I also purchased a copy of LIttle Brother, but it seems a bit too YA for our middle school.

  64. Ok, I’m coming late to the party. it’s 2011 and I’ve just finished Zoe’s Tale. I’m posting here simply because I couldnt find place for general commentary. I got the book for one reason….Conzu. I wanted to hear the story of Zoes incounter with the Conzu. I was happily surprised with everything else.

    OK now I gotta pitch an idea.
    I hope that Scalzi will consider doing more stories in this universe. One story that I can imagine is the story of Zoe grown up. As a grown up and a symbol of the Obin people she travels regurlarly to the Obin worlds and helps them to grow in consciousness. In Zoe’s tale the Obin are not yet able to handle their consciousness implants for long periods. I can imagine that in a later time they have grown emotionally and keep their consciousness on perminently. With that brings all the problems faced by other societies. Internal conflicts, greed, civil war, corruption, etc have left them in chaos. Other races never messed with the Obin because they were fearless and single minded. Now they are afraid and hesitant and other races are attacking from all sides and are taking Obin colonies which were once theirs. the dark side of consciousness that the Conzu created the Obin to rise above. in this story Zoe is both worshiped by some Obin and condemned by others. They are a race devided and it’s up to Zoe to bring them back together maybe with a little help from ……..
    That would be a cool story to hear.

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