Tor/Forge Totally DRM Free, Plus Anecdotal Notes Regarding Redshirts

Tor/Forge, my primary science fiction publisher, announced today that their previously-announced policy of putting out their eBooks DRM-free is now being implemented, which is to say that if you buy any of their eBooks moving forward, there will be no digital rights management software on it. So go! Buy! DRM free!

And yes, this includes previously published works — Old Man’s War, The Android’s Dream, Fuzzy Nation, etc are now all being sold without DRM restrictions (Also, no, I don’t know what that means for those of you who bought copies when they were DRM’d. Check with your retailer, please.)

For those authors apprehensive about what having a DRM-free eBook out there means for sales and/or unauthorized copying, I’ll note that my anecdotal experience having Redshirts go out DRM-free has been been very positive. First, the eBook sales of Redshirts, on a week to week basis, have been substantially higher than they were for any of my previous books (for example, first week it sold roughly two and a half times as many as Fuzzy Nation did in eBook, and that book did fine eBook business its first week). Second, we’re not seeing any particular increase of instances of the book being shared in violation of copyright , i.e., dropping DRM hasn’t suddenly made it more available in the dark and stinky portions of the Internet than other (previously DRM’d) books of mine.

Bear in mind that there are a ton of caveats here relating to Redshirts sales relative to other works of mine in eBook form — for example the recent growth of the market, the subject of the book, advertising and marketing of the book, my own reputation and backlist, etc — that need to be factored in. Nevertheless, by any objective standard, Redshirts eBook sales have been very healthy and as far as I can see offering the book DRM-free has offered no visible downside as yet. I’m happy and excited to offer up the rest of my books in a DRM-free manner as well. Get them wherever you like to buy your eBooks.

(And, of course, remember that the print versions are sold without DRM as well! So if you like print, support your local bookstores.)

What to Do If You Got a DRM’d Copy of Redshirts

Some retailers did not get the memo that Redshirts was meant to be drm-free and as a result some of you got drm’d ebooks. Well, we can’t have that. So if you got a drm’d copy, here’s what to do:

1. Send a copy of your receipt to “redshirtsdrm@macmillanusa.com” and specify if you prefer mobi (kindle) or epub (everything else) format.

2. They’ll send you a drm-free replacement copy in an email.

3. That’s it.

I’d say more but I’m in the bowels of the Javits center with almost no Internet. But this gets to the point.

Talking About Tor’s DRM-Free Policy

In case you were wondering how I spent my afternoon, it was at Book Expo America, helping explain Tor’s decision to go DRM-free. Tor.com also took the time to announce its upcoming DRM-free bookstore, which will go live later this summer. The details of the event are here, and worth reading about. I will note (as I noted in my speech at the event) that I was appearing and speaking only as myself and not as the President of SFWA; my personal remarks do not reflect SFWA policy.

Also a reminder that when Redshirts comes out tomorrow (in less than four hours time!) in the US and Canada, its eBook will be completely DRM-free, no matter which retailer you get it from.

The DRM Thing and Redshirts

As noted in the FAQ I just put up, Redshirts is going to be released as an eBook here in the US without digital rights management software (DRM), meaning what when you buy it you can pretty much do what you want with it. Tor, my publisher, announced that all their eBooks would be released DRM-free by the end of July; I support this and asked Redshirts be released DRM-free from release date, so I think it might be the first official DRM-free release from Tor, which is in itself the first major publisher imprint to forgo DRM. In that way, Redshirts is a bit of a canary in a coal mine for major publishers.

If you were to ask me how I would want you to use your DRM-free eBook of Redshirts, I would say the following:

1. Hey, it’s yours, do what you want with it for your own personal use. Meaning: want to put it on every single electronic doodad you’ve got? Do it! Want to share it with your spouse/significant other/child/roommate/pet? Have fun. Want to print it out and use the physical pages as wallpaper? Live that dream. If it’s for you or immediate household folks, it’s all good.

2. Share with friends, but please have a sense of proportion. Want to pop it over to a friend who you think would like the book? Well, all right, then. Popping it over to all of your coworkers? Please don’t, although by all means point them in the direction of the free five chapter sample, which is enough for most folks to know whether they want to read more. Basically, share it like you would share a physical book — and encourage your friend, if they really liked it, to buy a copy to show their approval. My daughter’s college education thanks you in advance.

3. Please don’t put it out on the Internet for everyone to have. This is the thing all the publishers are terrified about, that the day the book is released, it’ll be on Teh Intarweebs where anyone can totally steal it, d00d. Well, two things: one, it would be anyway, because people who do that sort of thing can crack DRM pretty easily, and two, that’s probably not you. I don’t really expect that most people who buy the book have any ambition to punt the thing online; they just want to read it. But just in case you’re tempted: I would prefer if you did not. Point folks to the free sample instead; again, it’s enough that they’ll know whether they want to read more.

4. Remember there are humans on the other end of the book. As in, hi: I make my living writing the thing you’re reading. And so does my editor, my copyeditor, my page designer, my cover designer, the people who put the book in boxes (or servers) and the people who sell the books. We support ourselves, our families, our pets and our communities with the money we get from the work in your hands. Please remember that we’re there, and why we hope you’ve paid for our work, and encourage others to do the same.

Aaaand that’s it.

Redshirts eBook to Be DRM-Free From Day One

By now, you have probably read that Tor Books (along with the other divisions of Tom Doherty Associates) will be releasing all their eBooks DRM-free by July of this year. But some of you have wondered what that means for my upcoming novel Redshirts, which comes out June 5. Will it have DRM on it when it comes out? Or will it be DRM-free from the very moment of its release? Here comes the official notice:

Yes, the Redshirts eBook will be DRM-free from the day of release.

Therefore, you eBook lovers will have absolutely no reason not to buy the book the very second it is available, thus driving my sales through the stratosphere, making my publisher very happy and showering me with precious, precious coin that I can convert into my daughter’s college education, and also maybe a hot tub. For the cats. Hey, some cats like hot tubs. This is what I hear.

(My thanks to Hillary Veith and all the other cool cats at Macmillan Digital for letting me get just a tiny bit ahead of the curve here. You guys rock.)

Also: The print edition will be DRM-free, too! So that’s an option for you as well, don’t forget. We like the stores that have the physical version as well. They make great gifts, as well as objects for me to sign when I am on my book tour this June (the dates of which are being finalized as I type this). Camp out at your favorite local bookstore! It’s not too early to get in line!

Point is: No matter in which medium you buy Redshirts, it will be totally yours to do with as you will.

And there you have it.

Tor/Forge to Go DRM-Free By July: Immediate Thoughts

This is pretty big publishing news: Tom Doherty Associates, an imprint of Macmillan and the publisher of most of my science fiction work, has announced they plan to ditch DRM (Digital Rights Management, i.e., the stuff that keeps you from moving or copying your eBooks) entirely. Here’s the release that’s going out about it.

Tom Doherty Associates, publishers of Tor, Forge, Orb, Starscape, and Tor Teen, today announced that by early July 2012, their entire list of e-books will be available DRM-free.

“Our authors and readers have been asking for this for a long time,” said president and publisher Tom Doherty. “They’re a technically sophisticated bunch, and DRM is a constant annoyance to them. It prevents them from using legitimately-purchased e-books in perfectly legal ways, like moving them from one kind of e-reader to another.”

DRM-free titles from Tom Doherty Associates will be available from the same range of retailers that currently sell their e-books. In addition, the company expects to begin selling titles through retailers that sell only DRM-free books.

About Tor and Forge Books

Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books, founded in 1980 and committed (although not limited) to arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is also the home of award-winning Forge Books, founded in 1993 and committed (although not limited) to thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction and general fiction. Together, the imprints garnered 30 New York Times bestsellers in 2011.

I called Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Senior Editor of Tor Books, to ask what going DRM-free will mean for the publisher’s efforts regarding online misappropriation of author copyrights, because I know that this is a very real concern for many writers. This was his response to me, which he allowed me to post here:

Just in case anyone is worried: I can tell you with complete confidence that Macmillan and Tor/Forge have no intention of scaling back our anti-piracy efforts in the e-book realm. We expect to continue working to minimize this problem with all the tools at our disposal.

As you know, we already have a legal team in place that pursues major infringers. We don’t expect that to change at all, and we hope we continue to get the kind of cooperation from infringed-upon authors that’s been such a big help in the past.

Now, thoughts. Please understand this is me speaking personally, for myself, and only for myself.

As an author, I haven’t seen any particular advantage to DRM-laden eBooks; DRM hasn’t stopped my books from being out there on the dark side of the Internet. Meanwhile, the people who do spend money to support me and my writing have been penalized for playing by the rules. The books of mine they have bought have been chained to a single eReader, which means if that eReader becomes obsolete or the retailer goes under (or otherwise arbitrarily changes their user agreement), my readers risk losing the works of mine they’ve bought. I don’t like that. So the idea that my readers will, after July, “buy once, keep anywhere,” makes me happy. I had been planning to ask Tor whether or not it would be feasible to offer my e-books without DRM; now I won’t have to have that conversation.

Does this mean it’s easier for someone to violate my copyright? It does. But most people don’t want to violate my copyright. Most people just want to own their damn books. Now they will. I support that. And I believe that most readers who like my work will support me. They get that if I don’t get paid, they won’t get books — and more than that I really do believe most people who can support the artists whose work they like will support them. So personally I don’t think ditching DRM will mean people will stop buying what I and Tor have to sell.

That said, I know that there are people out there who don’t give a crap about me or my career and are happy to put up anything I write for other people to copy and take. These are the folks on whom I am happy to bring down the hammer. I have informed Tor/Forge before of people and sites who have violated my copyrights; they have done an admirable job sending their legal strike teams against them.

So Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s very quick and public assurance that Tor/Forge is not abandoning the principles of defending its authors’ copyrights is heartening to me. One reason I stay with a large publisher is because it has the people, resources and experience to do any number of things I find difficult to do myself, from editing to page design to, yes, legal action. If Tor/Forge (and by extension, Macmillan) continue to back up their words as they have done in the past, on my behalf as well as on behalf of other authors, then that’s a cogent argument for authors to continue to work with them, and for readers to support their wares.

What will be interesting is to see how other publishing houses will respond to this action. I won’t speculate in detail at this point, but I will say that I strongly suspect this is just the first of many changes we’re going to see in how business gets done with major publishing. I’m watching, both as a consumer and as a writer.

Tell me your thoughts in the comments, please.

Update: additional thoughts on today’s announcement from Charles Stross.

Update 2: Redshirts, my upcoming novel to be released on June 5, will be DRM-free from Day One.

DRM On My Books

Question in e-mail today:

I have your books on my Kindle. As an author, would it bother you if I stripped the DRM from the ebook, to read it on another ebook reader? Or should I buy another copy?

Speaking personally and only for myself, I’m of the opinion that once you bought the book, in electronic format or otherwise, it’s yours to do with as you please. So if in the privacy of your own home and for your own personal use you de-DRM’d your book files? Fine by me.

I should note on a personal level that typically speaking I don’t strip out the DRM on my ebooks because from a practical point of view I don’t find it particularly onerous. Amazon, Nook and Google all have reading apps for my phone, tablets and computers, so I don’t find the need to crack the DRM in order to read what I want, where I want. I’ll note the Apple bookstore doesn’t have an Android or PC app as far as I can know, which keeps me from buying many books out of that store (Krissy buys some, as most her iReading is done on the iPad). As a practical matter, it’s access, not DRM per se, which is the issue for me, and I suspect access is the issue for most folks.

This is separate, mind you, from the philosophical issue of DRM, which on a personal level I find unnecessary for the books I write, and which from a business point of view may actually become an economic hindrance to publishers in the long run. Charlie Stross mused about this recently, and I recommend his thoughts to you. Other authors may feel differently than I do on the philosophical and economic desirability of DRM for their work, and that’s fine, and I support their choices. My belief is every author should have the ability to say how their work is presented to consumers in the marketplace.

But again, once you’ve bought it, I think the thing is yours. As long as you’re stripping out the DRM for your own personal use, what do I care? Please don’t turn around and put the book on a torrent, etc, blah blah blah. Athena needs college. But I don’t think most people are really that interested in becoming pirates, arrr. I think most people just want to read the books they buy. I’m for people doing that.

WHATEVER IS DOWN (Was: Rental Zen, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Entirely Ignore DRM)

NOTICE, 11am, 6/28/07: Whatever seems to be having some sort of extreme database issue at the moment. The short story: As of just short of midnight last night, Whatever’s database apparently stopped accepting new data, including new entries and new comments (I’m able to post this, apparently, because it’s into an article already posted. Don’t ask me how it works — it just works). Anyway, I’m looking into it now. Don’t know how long it will take to fix. In the meantime feel free to visit my LiveJournal, where I will update with news and information. You can also post comments there.

rentalzen.jpg

Behold my latest toy, a 60 GB Creative Vision:M, which is just like a video iPod, except that if you try to connect it to iTunes, it will wail and thrash and scream “it burns us, preciousssssss!” or something like that. Which, you know, is fine, because I bought it to interface not with iTunes at all, but with another music service entirely: Rhapsody, which I’ve subscribed to for years, and which, if you pay $15 a month as I do, will allow you to fill certain music players (like the one I just bought) jam-packed full of rented music, music which is, incidentally, positively swaddled in digital rights management. The idea here is that if I should cancel my Rhapsody account, the music on my player will lock up; I won’t be able to access it. Because it’s rental music, you see.

My response to this, basically: Yeah, okay, whatever. Indeed, so utterly unconcerned am I with this that one of the reasons I bought the Creative music player in the first place is that it’s my intent to fill it up solely with rented music, in all its DRMed-to-the-gums glory. Why? Because in the end, it just doesn’t matter to me. And here’s why:

1. To begin, I own tons of music — literally thousands of albums dating back to high school — but it’s across a myriad of media, and not all of it is easily accessible: About 80% of my CD collection is packed away in boxes in the basement, for example, and only part of it I’ve ever bothered to rip to electronic format. Then there are the cassettes and (god forbid) LPs I own, and the albums and tracks I’ve downloaded off of iTunes. Honestly, it’s all a big friggin’ mess, and the idea of trying to get it all organized so I can stuff it into my music player fills me with a horrible sort of crushing ennui. Really, just stab me in the eye, because it would be less painful.

With the rental music, I don’t have to bother with all that. Right now, as I type this, I’m downloading the entire discography of Depeche Mode into my player off of Rhapsody. It took me about 90 seconds to queue up the entire playlist and drag and drop it into player; all 160 songs (or so — I’m not loading in remixes, etc at this point) will be funneled into it in another ten minutes or so. Simple, easy, done. I own all this music, but it’s easier to use the rental version. So I’m likely to replicate the part of my music collection I actually listen to into my player.

There’s the added attraction that I can also drag and drop music that I haven’t bought into the player and take it along with me to listen to, to see if I want to buy it. I often do (my rule of thumb is if I listen to an album’s worth of rented music three times through, I buy it), so that’s not bad either. And even if I don’t buy it, thanks to Rhapsody’s setup with music companies, the artists and/or copyright holders still get paid a portion of the rental fee. It’s tiny, but it’s better than nothing.

2. The DRM setup doesn’t allow me to trade music files with people, but you know what? I don’t do that anyway — it’s not a behavior I typically indulge in. When someone tells me about a band they like, what I usually end up doing is pulling that band up on Rhapsody and listening to it there, because I feel that’s an ethical way of satisfying my curiosity (a little bit of my monthly fee goes to the musicians, remember), and when I want to share music, I have a tendency to point to streaming audio/video that’s either been authorized (on YouTube, which has licensing agreements at this point with most of the big labels, or through something like AOL Music) or — if it’s questionable that it’s been authorized — is at least on an obvious site that takes down data on request (again with the YouTube). The DRM keeps me from engaging in behavior I don’t engage in, which means for me, it doesn’t present a real issue.

To be clear, the reason I don’t typically engage in file trading is not because DRM makes it difficult — I’m technologically competent enough that it would be trivial for me to get around nearly any DRM set-up yet devised — but I choose not to, and because generally speaking at this point in time there are better ways to achieve the goal of sharing music, some of which actually allow copyright holders to get paid something.

3. Yes, but what about the fact that thanks to the DRM, I can only access the music on certain computers and on certain music players? Surely that’s an imposition! Well, the thing is, it’s not. Rhapsody’s setup allows me to run its music software on five computers and on a certain number of portable players. Well, as it happens, I have four computers in the house and three portable music players — which is to say, I’m covered. And even then, should I want to get around this, Rhapsody has made it easy to do by allowing its users to access its system via a Web browser, so actually there’s no limit to the number of computers I can use to access whatever music I want. What if I want to put the music onto my stereo? I bring my laptop to the stereo and run a line from the laptop to the stereo. Done and done. But I can’t actually remember the last time I used my stereo; at this point the entire family listens to music via computers and the TV (on which our satellite system has a several dozen music channels).

So while theoretically DRM restricts my access to music, as a practical matter the restrictions it places on my use of the music are so non-onerous as to be just like not there at all. For how I use my music, and how my family uses music, the restrictions are not an issue in the least.

4. There is the fact that Rhapsody could at any point change the rules of rental access or that I could leave the service and have all that music on my player become dead files. But I have to say that this doesn’t particularly concern me because I understand that I am renting music here. Which is to say that I am under no illusion that I own the specific data files I am downloading into my player. I own some of the music because I’ve purchased it in other media, and at any point in time if I want I can rip that music into electronic files, and I would own those too. But these files — the ones I’m borrowing from Rhapsody — I don’t own any more than I own a DVD from Blockbuster or Netflix, or a book from the local public library.

If Rhapsody suddenly changes its terms to something I don’t like and I leave the service, or it goes out of business, or whatever, I understand that I’m going to lose access to these files. Big deal. I can switch to another provider, which would mean restuffing the player, which would be annoying but not horribly onerous, or I can just drop in the actual music I own. In the meantime, it’s not a problem. Indeed, in one respect the rented files have an advantage to electronic music files I own: If the hard drive I’ve stored most of my mp3s on implodes (as it will inevitably do), there goes my collection (presuming I don’t have a CD version or haven’t otherwise backed up). This is not an issue with the rented music. If my computer implodes, it doesn’t take Rhapsody with it.

Add it all up and all this rented music thing makes a lot of sense to me, and for me.

Now, to make one thing clear, when I’m talking about being fine about DRM, I’m talking about it in the context of rented music. If we’re talking about music I want to buy to own, then I’m of another mind entirely when it comes to DRM. Because I’m buying that. It’s mine. Again, the issue of DRM keeping me from accessing my music would be trivial in a practical sense, both in how I use my music, and how I could get around the DRM if I want to. But that’s not the point. The point is once I buy something, the seller is loses the ability to tell me how I can or cannot use it, and all the EULAs in the world aren’t going to change that much. But when I rent music, it’s not the same thing. Swaddle it up with DRM; I’m fine with that.

How DRM is Like Guantanamo

How is Guantanamo like DRM, you ask? They’re alike in two ways: First for what they are not, and then for what they represent.

Let’s begin with the first: Both are used by the people who have created them for purposes other than what they’re ostensibly used. In the case of DRM, it exists not primarily to combat piracy but to amputate the right of “fair use.” In the case of Guantanamo, it isn’t primarily for harboring dangerous terrorists but for concretely embodying the extra-constitutional idea of expanded executive powers.

Both represent different immediate aims, but both are bad for precisely the same reason: they’re about taking a society based on rights and turning it into a society based on access. In the the case of DRM, the idea being posited is that we don’t have fair use, or the right to personal copies of work we’ve purchased — the originator of the material has every right to the work, in perpetuity, and access to that work is given on sufferance. In the case of Guantanamo, the idea being posited is that the executive has the ability to create a new framework of rights, irrespective of those outlined in the Constitution, which means that the executive, not the Constitution, is that from which our rights derive, and access to those rights is given on sufferance. And in fact in both cases there are no rights at all for the individual or the public. There’s only access, controlled by entities whose list of priorities are not notably congruent to those of the public, and are likely to become less so over time, so that access is progressively more strictly managed.

None of this is new, of course, and it’s axiomatic that yesterday’s freedom fighters are today’s rights pocketers. Hollywood — where the push for DRM is based — was founded by pirates who fled the east coast and the monopoly imposed on film by the Edison Trust. The Bush Administration — which has vigorously attempted to expand executive power — is the final reduction of a political movement began in part as resistance to the expanded executive powers assumed by FDR. But just because these are merely This Year’s Model of rights arrogation doesn’t mean they don’t need to be fought against.

One of the interesting things about right now is that I think we’re in the (very) early days of the pushback. People are better educated about how DRM messes with their ability to do what they want with the stuff they own; people are fatigued with and suspicious of the Bush Administration and its goals and motives. Naturally neither DRM promoters nor the executive ascendancy crew are going to go down without a fight; the question is whether now being on the defensive makes them more canny in achieving their goals or will simply cause the backlash to be even more intense. I have no idea, personally, although I suspect things aren’t going to get any easier for either group from here on out.

I’ll tell you what I hope for, however. In the case of DRM, I think the entertainment companies will eventually recognize it’s bad business. I have nothing against renting when I’m actively renting (I love my Rhapsody music service for a reason), and I think DRM is perfectly fine there. When you buy something, however, you shouldn’t need permission to do what the hell you want with it. I personally ignore or break DRM when I come across it on things I buy, and if it’s not possible to do either I don’t buy the product. In the case of executive overreach, naturally I’d like to see that reined in by more active and engaged Congress and courts, and by members of all political persuasions who at least temporarily will put the text of the Constitution ahead of political expediency. I suspect by dint of its sheer incompetence, the Bush administration has admirably exemplified why the executive branch should not be legally ascendant above the other branches of government; this may indeed be the only useful thing to come out of this administration. But as in all things we will have to see.

I will say I’m looking forward to the day that DRM and Guantanamo — and the philosophy of rights they symbolize — plop onto the dustbin of history. That’ll be a good day for me, and for us.

DRM Silliness

I’m going to get geeky with music, here. Hold on.

One of the things people who get annoyed with digital rights management in regards to legally purchased and downloaded musical files are especially annoyed with is that although DRM is easily evaded by recording the audio playback as a .wav file and then compressing the .wav file into the DRM-less audio format of your choice, ultimately what you’re doing is recompressing music which was already compressed before, thus degrading the sonic experience. So from their point of view this is a massive imposition.

Well, I’m a curious fellow, and so I wanted to hear how much degradation (musically speaking) I’d experience in a situation like this. So I went ahead and recorded two DRM-protected tracks I’d purchased — “Fallen” by Sarah McLachlan from the iTunes Music Store (AAC format), and “The Old Apartment” from Barenaked Ladies from BuyMusic.com (wma format) — and converted the recording into two 128 kps mp3 files, using my ACID Pro 4.0 program (it can also be done with less expensive recording software; it’s just the software I have).

The answer is fairly interesting. There is a bit of degradation, which is expressed (to my ears, at least) as a slightly “brighter” and more sibilant sound at the high end — which in practical terms means that cymbal crashes seem to “sizzle” slightly more than they do in the original sound files. The middle and lower frequencies seem largely unaffected.

I should note that in terms of fiddling with graphic equalization, I tend to crank up the higher frequencies, so cranking those frequencies back down diminishes the “sizzle” significantly; when I have the graphic equalization flat, the difference between the original files and their recompressed children is, from a practical point of view, negligible. And to be entirely honest about it, I prefer the recompressed version of “The Old Apartment” to the original, which is kind of muddy to my ears. And of course, the degradation issue becomes rather less of a problem if you’re happy to encode at a higher rate in exchange for a larger file (which, as hard drives get larger, becomes less and less of an issue).

Now, I’ll note that I’m not listening to this music in ideal conditions — I’m listening to the tracks through my $50 Altec Lansing 2.1 speakers, which is connected to a SoundMAX integrated digital audio card, which is the basic sound card that came with my computer. I also listened to the tracks through a pair of Sony headphones I bought in New York a couple years ago for about $25. But this is kind of the point: Most people, even those who really love music, aren’t hardcore audiophiles — they’re listening to music like I do, on their computer with adequate speakers, or, perhaps, through a portable stereo or (in my case)home stereo component system that they bought in 1991 for $400 and which they still use because it still works. In other words, they’re listening to music like normal humans. Hell, the best audio system I currently own is in my minivan.

(Hardcore audiophiles, of course, wouldn’t sully themselves with compressed music files; they’re either playing their vinyl on gyroscopically balanced turntables playing through vacuum-tubed amps into speakers that laser-detect the shape of the room, or presently repurchasing their entire music collection on SACD. Shine on, you crazy diamonds.)

This is why in a basic sense I’m unconcerned with the practical effects of DRM in terms of managing my music. It’s trivial for me to put the music in a format that I’m happy with, with a sound quality which is perfectly acceptable given to what I have to listen through and how I listen to the music on a daily basis. I grant that it would be nice not having to fiddle in order to get my music the way I want it to be, but on the other hand, it’s no more difficult than encoding a CD into mp3 format.

Neither I nor, I suspect, anyone else who has enough of a technical understanding to grasp either the concepts of DRM or recording from a “line out” feed will have a practical reason to have anything to fear from its restrictions, particularly if what they’re doing is simply organizing their own collection of legally bought music. From the music listener’s point of view it is a corporate tax on the ignorant, in that it is the technically unlearned who will have their music collection tethered to particular computers or jukeboxes or whatever. But such an ignorance tax regarding technology isn’t really a new situation.

Given that DRM is essentially useless against anyone who understands it, I have to assume that the point of DRM is not really to restrict the consumer but to calm the suppliers, i.e., the music companies. It provides the illusion of control, in that most people are indeed ignorant of the details of digital rights management, and have little to no interest in taking the time to learn more about it, and while it taxes the ignorant, it doesn’t punish them the way other schemes do, like the recent attempt to introduce encoding to block people from playing CDs on their PCs. That’s enough for the music companies for the moment.

It’s still not entirely clear to me that the music companies realize to the extent their business model has been blown up, and that people like Apple and (inevitably) Microsoft, in owning the shops, are poised to become music companies in their own right. Steve Jobs denies this idea in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, but on the other hand look at another one of Job’s side gigs, Pixar. When Disney got into business with Pixar, it assumed it was in the driver’s seat. Now it’s nearly a decade later and Disney needs Pixar a whole lot more than Pixar needs Disney.

Likewise, a decade from now, established artists with a committed fan base will be asking the music labels what they can do for them that they can’t already do for themselves dropping their tunes directly onto iTunes. They’re already doing it now — note Pearl Jam, Natalie Merchant and Prince — but in ten years it’ll likely be the rule, not the exception.

And when that happens, DRM will be even less of an issue than it is now. Fans don’t want to rip off musicians, and musicians trust (or at least understand the value of appearing to trust) their fans. Middleman stores like iTunes (and by extension Apple) will more actively take profits from distributing the music, lessening the need to protect their music player market with DRM. Music companies will still be around (they’ll buy into up-and-coming bands and be a relatively safe haven for veterans who don’t want the hassle of running their organization) but I imagine their DRM policies, should they exist, will be rather less restrictive than they are now due to business pressures.

So ultimately, DRM is, in my mind, a middle step between the way the music business was and what it will be in time. It’s transition. DRM means the transition is somewhat less painful and more ordered than it would be otherwise — certainly more smooth than the transition appeared it would be even a couple of years ago.

That being the case, I can hang with the inconvenience of re-encoding music files from time to time. It won’t last.

New Book FAQ

Whenever I announce or talk about an upcoming book, I often get asked these following questions. I’m answering them here in one place because I get tired of typing the same answers over and over. Now all I have to do is post the URL to this piece! Everyone wins!

When will the book be out? In the absence of me stating it directly, check the pre-order page at your favorite online retailer, which will be posted several months in advance of the publication of the book.

Should I pre-order? If you’re sure you’re going to get the book, it’s a nice way of letting the publisher know there’s interest. While pre-ordering online is usually how people go about doing this, you can pre-order from your local bookseller as well; they will be happy to take your order and have the book for you to pick up on the day of release.

When will the ebook be out? The same day as the print version. These days print and ebook rights are almost always bundled into the same contract; certainly mine are.

Will the ebook have DRM? If the book is from Tor US or Subterranean Press, no. If it’s from some other publisher, maybe. My personal estimation is that DRM is entirely useless, but that doesn’t stop some publishers from having it, so.

When will the audiobook be out? If it’s one of my Tor US novels, the audiobook will be out day and date with the print/ebook release. That’s unlikely to change for the next decade at least. Nearly all of my new fiction through Subterranean Press also tends to have day/date release with print and ebook. My non-fiction books don’t tend to have audio releases and I honestly don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Note: Sometimes I will do an audio-first release (see: the “Dispatcher” series), which means the audio version will be available first, followed by a print release after the audio-exclusive window runs out. That’s usually six months to a year after the audio release.

Will the audiobook have DRM? Probably, since Audible/Amazon seems to like it and Audible is my most frequent audio publisher. Please see above for my opinions about DRM; I would be pleased if my audiobooks didn’t have it and Audible/Amazon knows this. But to date they seem resistant to my arguments on the matter.

Who will narrate the audiobook/will [insert person here] narrate the audiobook? If I haven’t already announced the narrator for the audiobook, it will be either because I don’t know yet, or because I’m not allowed to say yet. I usually announce who the narrator is when I am able.

What version of the book should I get? Honestly I get paid about the same regardless, so get whichever version you like the most — print, eBook or audio.

Will this book/ebook/audiobook be available in [insert country here]? For English language print versions of my novels, they are often available (either in the Tor US or Tor UK versions) via the local instance of Amazon, or you can (probably) special order them from a local bookstore. eBooks are more problematic because there are certain territorial rights involved and honestly it’s very complicated and annoying and I know almost as little about them as you do. English language audio should be available through Audible worldwide.

Will this book/ebook/audiobook be available in [insert non-English language here]? It depends on whether a publisher who puts out books in that language wants to publish it (and wants to publish it in those various formats). I am most reliably published in German, French, Japanese, Hungarian and Spanish; everything else, it depends. Publication in those languages usually happens between six months and two years after the English language version comes out. I have absolutely no control over what books get published in which languages and when they come out.

Will this book/ebook/audiobook be available in my library? Depends.

Print: It depends on whether your library decides to purchase it. If you request it, it is more likely they will purchase it.

eBook: Again your library would have to purchase it (or more accurately, purchase access to it). Some of my publishers have arcane rules in place about how many eBook copies can be in circulation and when. I didn’t make those rules.

Audiobook: Right now Audible doesn’t license audiobooks to libraries. Sorry.

I wish for you to inveigh upon your publishers to change their library access policies and here are several paragraphs — indeed, several pages — why: One, that’s not a question, and two, you can be assured that I have already expressed in no uncertain terms my opinions about library access to my various publishers, and will continue to do so when the occasion arises. With that said, please understand that the weight of my opinion, while not utterly insignificant, is only one datum in a sea of data by which these publishers have come to their current practices. Additionally, at this point you are better off going to them directly with your arguments.

Will there be a movie/TV show/video game/[insert other media type here] of this book? If someone options the book for that medium, then maybe! But they have to be the ones to make an option offer (at which point my team will then evaluate it and decide if we want to be in business with those folks). Even after an option is taken there is still quite a lot of work to be done, and you should know that most options of any sort fail to pan out.

Are you going on tour? Will you come to my town/country? I have generally (but not always) toured the US for my novels, and whether I come to your town is entirely dependent on some entity, usually a bookstore or library, making a bid to have me appear when Tor sends out a tour interest sheet. If the tour has already been announced, it’s almost impossible to add additional cities to the tour, because we’ve already booked flights and made other such arrangements. Also, I don’t tend to tour other countries (most of my foreign publishers don’t wish to spring for the cost of a tour), although I may occasionally show up for a book fair or other such event.

Will you sign/personalize my book? Yes, if you see me on tour or at a convention/book festival, or if you purchase a book from one of the places I go when on tour, or via Jay and Mary’s Book Center in Troy, Ohio, which is my local bookstore. Here are some details on all of that.

I won’t buy your book because [insert reason here]: Again, not a question, and also, I don’t care, although going out of your way to tell me directly that you don’t intend to buy my book(s) may indicate you’re a bit of an attention-seeking dillweed. Work on yourself, please, away from me.

That should hold us for now! I will update this with answers to additional questions when/if needed.

Trade Reviews for A Very Scalzi Christmas Are In

And it looks like it’s going to be a merry Christmas for my little book, as it’s gotten positive reviews in Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus. And what do they say?

From Publishers Weekly:

“Scalzi (The Consuming Fire) unleashes his wicked wit in this stocking stuffer miscellany of mostly goofs and jibes directed at the holiday season. But not all is irreverence: two of the book’s 16 selections, ‘Christmas in July’ and ‘Sarah’s Sister,’ are sweet stories that exude Christmas cheer. Scalzi fans will find something here that appeals, no matter their feelings for the holiday.”

From Booklist:

“The collection shares Scalzi’s joy of the season and reminds the reader of the importance of the holiday, without being too serious.”

From Kirkus:

“Bestselling sci-fi author Scalzi injects plenty of holly and jolly into his second short story collection, a follow-up to Miniatures(2016). You’ve finished rewatching your bootleg version of The Star Wars Holiday Special and every episode of Futurama featuring the murderous Robot Santa, the Doctor Who Christmas special won’t be on for hours yet, and you already have Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Merry Christmas From Chiron Beta Prime’ on infinite loop. How else can you fill the Yuletide season with geekiness and laughs? This slim stocking stuffer may be just what you need.”

God bless them, every one.

Also, this is your reminder that you can pre-order the signed, limited edition of the book from Subterranean Press directly, and when you do, you will also receive the electronic version of the book (DRM free!) as a throw-in. And it will arrive in more than enough time for Christmas itself.

I’m pleased the book has been so well-received by the trades — a themed short story collection is not a guaranteed hit, to say the least. It’s nice it filled them with cheer. And it’s a good way to start the week!

Announcing Virtue Signaling and Other Heresies: Selected Writings From Whatever 2013 – 2018

Today, on the 20th anniversary of Whatever, I am absolutely thrilled to announce the upcoming publication of Virtue Signaling and Other Heresies: Selected Writings From Whatever, 2013-2018. This new collection from Subterranean Press collects some of the best writing from Whatever from the last half decade, with my words and thoughts on politics, personalities, social issues and life in general — on whatever, appropriately enough.

Virtue Signaling will be available from Subterranean Press as a limited edition signed hardcover (featuring fabulous cover art from Nate Taylor, pictured above) and in ebook format. The current scheduled publication date is December 31, 2018. You can preorder the hardcover now through Subterranean Press, which is the best way to assure you get a copy.

And now that I’ve covered the basics, let me talk just a little more about the book, using the Q&A format:

What’s covered in this book and how is it different from Don’t Live For Your Obituary, the Whatever collection you released last year?

Don’t Live for Your Obituary specifically covered pieces about writing and the writing life, published over the last decade; Virtue Signaling covers every other topic I wrote about, between 2013 and 2018 (well, through about May of this year, anyway). So while there is some overlap in time frame between the two books, the content of each is otherwise mostly independent.

The collection’s time frame includes the 2016 election cycle and the first year and a half of the Trump administration, so that’s covered some — but there’s also discussion about other world events, personal observations on the nature of life, reviews and commentary on film, theater and other events, and of course, lots and lots of snark. Lots and lots of snark should not be surprising at this point, I think.

Why did you call this collection Virtue Signaling? 

Because it amused me. Also, as I wrote in the book’s introduction (and I’m condensing here a bit from the actual intro):

“Virtue Signaling” is a phrase the dim and bigoted use when they want to discount other people expressing the idea that it would be nice if we could all be essentially and fundamentally decent to each other. I don’t believe I am notably more virtuous than your average person; nevertheless I also think we can and should be better, to each other and as a nation. Occasionally I write about it. I am delighted to signal in the direction of virtue.

I personally get accused of “virtue signaling” a lot, because of what I write here and in other places, usually by the sort of dude I think wouldn’t know what virtue actually was if it came and bit him on the ass. I didn’t title this collection Virtue Signaling just to annoy that sort of moral CHUD, but I’m not going to deny that it’s a nice bonus, either.

Is… is that supposed to be you on the cover? 

It certainly is! In my social justice warrior garb! Once again, Nate Taylor, who also illustrated the covers of The Mallet of Loving Correction and Don’t Live For Your Obituary, has done a fine job of making a cartoon version of me. I genuinely love this illustration, and think Nate Taylor is brilliant. Please hire him for all of your illustration needs.

Tell me more about the signed, limited hardcover edition and why I need to pre-order it right now.

Well, it’s signed because my signature is in each and every copy, so you won’t need to hunt me down later at a convention or tour event to get it inscribed. It’s limited because once this run of the hardcover is sold through, that’s it; no more will be made. It’s hardcover because that’s what Subterranean Press specializes in — amazing hardcover editions of books that look and feel great and add real class to your bookshelf and, indeed, to your life in general. And you need to pre-order it right now because my signed, limited hardcover Subterranean Press editions have a tendency to sell out, so if you want to be sure you get one, pre-ordering sooner than later is the way to go.

I will not be hardcover-shamed into preordering! Ebooks all the way!

Well, fine, you do you, and there will in fact be an ebook version, which will be cheaper to boot, although not as pretty and shiny as the hardcover. That version should be available at your favorite ebook retailer for pre-order in the reasonably near future.

And before you ask, both the hardcover and ebook editions will be available worldwide (for the hardcover, you will need to pay shipping). The ebook is also DRM-free, because, yeah.

Anything else you want us to know about Virtue Signaling?

Mostly that I’m really happy with this collection, and I think everyone at Subterranean Press has done a truly fabulous job putting it together. I think you’re going to be happy to have it on your shelf. And also, I’m totally going to dress up like the cover at some convention in the future. Just you wait.

That Tor Library eBook Lending Thing

Last week Tor Books announced that it would start windowing ebooks for libraries, which means that new ebook titles from Tor would now be available to libraries four months after their commercial release. So as an example, a book that’s released in August would be available to libraries in ebook form in November (print versions of the book will continue to be available on the official release date). Tor/Macmillan initially stated they’d seen some impact on retail sales because of ebook library lending, and is now participating in a study to dig deeper into the issue. Here’s a full writeup on this from Publishers Weekly, if you are interested in more details.

As I am a high-profile Tor author, people have been emailing me to ask what I think about the policy and/or to complain about it. I’ve been traveling for the last few days and doing events so I haven’t been able to dedicate any real brain cycles to it until last night, when I got home for good. Now that I have looked it over, I will tell you what I think, but I ask you to read completely to the end, as I will attempt nuance, and we all know how that goes.

My personal, first-blush reaction was that I’m not in love with this new strategy. I know my own personal sales, ebook and otherwise, and they’re perfectly healthy. Likewise as a supporter of libraries in general I like to see my work available to them, and to their patrons, in every format, on release day.

With that said, here are things to consider:

1. I am a bestselling author whose sales profile, length of contract and contractual compensation (both in amount and in scheduling) insulates me significantly from a lot of the immediate, first week/month sales pressures that most authors face these days. What works or is fine for me might not be what works or is fine for a new author who is trying to break into the field, or a mid-list author who needs to hit specific sales numbers to get that next book contract.

2. Tor says that it is noting a general impact on ebook sales because of library lending (its initial statement was more adamant about it, it appears, than some followups). I haven’t seen anyone’s sales numbers but mine, but I do know Tor’s data game is pretty strong — we use it to maximize my own sales and we’ve done a pretty good job there. Its data-mining history has some credibility for me.

3. Tor has not been a troglodyte either in how it proceeds with ebook tech (remember that it was one of the first major publishers to offer ebooks DRM-free) or in sales/marketing. It’s taken risks and done things other publishers didn’t/wouldn’t do, sometimes just to see what would happen. I have my own example of this: Tor’s ebook-first serialization publication of The Human Division and The End of All Things helped provide Tor with much of the data it used to build its successful Tor.com novella line.

So with all that noted, let’s go back to my first blush statement. I don’t think having day-and-date ebook library lending has had a detrimental effect on my own sales situation. I’m also aware I’m not in the same situation as most authors with regard to sales and attention. Tor has a financial and fiduciary duty to sell books, for itself and for its authors. If Tor wants to try a pilot program to window ebook library lending to find out what impact it has on its sales in general, as much as I don’t think it makes sense for me or my books, I also recognize I don’t see all the data Tor sees across its entire line. I’m also willing to believe, based on previous experience, that Tor is neither stupid, excessively greedy, nor unwilling to make changes if the data tells it something different than what it expects.

So: okay. Try it and see what happens. Then use that information moving forward.

In the meantime, things to remember: First, the print versions of books will still be available to libraries on release day, i.e., your library can still have the book(s) available when they come out. Let your library know you’re interested in the books so they can order print copies. Second, if you exclusively get ebooks from your library, waiting sucks but while you waiting there are lots of other books and authors to fill that interim. Read widely! Try new stuff! That time does not have to pass idly, I assure you. Third, whatever you think of this new tactic, remember at the bottom of this is a publisher trying different things so the authors whose work you love get compensated (and the publisher too, let’s be clear). Sales do matter for whether you get more books from an author, and whether an author gets paid enough for the books to write more of them.

Finally, a small plea: I get that people complain to me about Tor policies and practices, since I put myself out there and am accessible and I am basically a franchise player for my publisher. That’s totally fair, and I’m happy to be that; I’ve passed along the complaints and kvetches you’ve sent to me, and I’ve also shared my own thoughts on the matter. But if you’re contacting other Tor authors about this, please please please be kind to them. They didn’t have any say about this pilot program, can’t do much to change it at this point, and might feel they can’t respond for whatever reason. Not everyone feels, shall we say, as insulated from consequence when they open their mouth as I do, and making authors feel neurotic about things over which they have no control is not going to do them or you much good. Practice empathy, please.

Or, even better, let Tor and Macmillan know directly what you think. They’ve set up an email for you to do just that: elending.feedback@macmillan.com. That’s going to be so much more effective than making some poor author twitchy. Please tell Tor and Macmillian what you think! Straight to the source! Thanks.

35 Years of Tor

Tor.com is unveiling Tor’s new logo today — it looks like the old logo, only, you know, more modernand offering a timeline of highlights from Tor’s now 35-year-long history. I’m delighted to say I show up on the timeline twice, first in 2005, when it’s noted that I and Brandon Sanderson debuted in that year, and again in 2013, when Redshirts won the Hugo award. It’s nice to be considered part of that history.

I’ve remarked on it before, but I’ll do it again now: I like that Tor is my publisher. Part of it has to do with the fact that Tor is Tor, the largest publisher of science fiction in North America and possibly the world (I’d have to check to see what’s up with China these days to be sure about that), and so being published by a company that has the talent and skill and reach of Tor is a nice thing indeed. Tor is also one of the smartest publishers, too — it hasn’t been afraid of the digital world, and it trusts its readers, which is why their ebooks are DRM-free.

Part of it is that nearly all the time I’ve been with Tor, they’ve been willing to back what I did in fiction, even if it didn’t necessarily make great sense on paper. Write a book that starts with a chapter-long fart joke? Go for it! Rewrite a classic of the genre just to see what it’d be like. Cool, let’s see what happens! Take one of the oldest jokes in science fiction — hey, it’s not a great idea to be the dude in a red shirt! — make a whole novel out of it, and tack on three codas at the end, just for kicks? Why the hell not, we’ll run it up the flagpole and see who salutes! And so on.

The leeway I’ve gotten from Tor in what they publish from me is a microcosm of how I think Tor approaches science fiction and fantasy in general, a philosophy of well, let’s try it and see what happens. Tor is no stranger to “old school” science fiction, of course — one need only look as far as the Old Man’s War series for confirmation of that — but I like the fact that they don’t hold to the philosophy that science fiction is only that (or that fantasy should only be one way, for that matter). Science fiction and fantasy by their very definitions should contain multitudes: Multitudes of stories and ideas and perspectives and authors. I look at what Tor publishes and I see a lot of different work, from a lot of different points of view. This is good thing. There’s always room for more, and I like seeing my publisher going toward the direction of more. I hope it continues to be a guiding philosophy.

Mostly, however, I’m glad to be part of Tor because of the people I know there. My editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, most obviously (and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, font of wisdom that she is), but so many other people as well. To name just a few: Irene Gallo, the company’s art director, who is one of the very best in publishing, period; Alexis Saarela and Patty Garcia in Tor’s PR department, who have to put up with me when I’m on tour; Liz Gorinsky, who even as Patrick’s assistant was always one of the smartest people in the room; and Tom Doherty himself — if anyone can be called a wizard of publishing, it would be he. There are more, many more, than this. I like the people I know at Tor. They make publishing there a generally pleasurable experience.

Is Tor perfect? No, it has its foibles and missteps, and it and some of its people have done dumb things in the past, because people are people and business is business. It hasn’t even always been perfect with me; I’ve had some sharp disagreements with the company in my past, and I’m sure I will have kvetches and complaints in the future. I like Tor and am happy to be published by them, and consider many of the people who work there to be my friends. But I also don’t forget that Tor is also a publishing company, owned by a larger publishing company, owned by an international holding company, with fallable humans comprising those companies all the way up to the top. Their priorities and mine are not always in sync and never will be. If as an author you don’t understand this fundamental disconnect, you’re going to be grievously surprised one day. This is not me saying know your place; it is me saying understand the context.  If you understand the latter, you might be surprised at how far you can get.

Tor and I are going to be in business together for a long time, so I’m glad I like the people and the company, and the general philosophy of the publishing house. I’m invested in Tor’s success, as they are now in mine. I’ll be happy to have that new logo on the spine of my books over the next decade.

Humble Subterranean Press Bundle: Pay What You Want For a Lot of Great Stuff

Most of you know that I do a lot of work with Subterranean Press, because they do an excellent job with my limited and/or off-the-wall projects. They are some of my favorite people to work with, and I’m not alone in this assessment: some of the best authors in science fiction and fantasy work with them, creating some amazing books.

Now you can get in on some of that for a very affordable price: SubPress is working with the Humble Bundle folks and has created a very excellent SubPress eBook bundle. Who is in the bundle? Well, for any price, you get:

  • Peter Brett
  • Harlan Ellison
  • Caitlin Kiernan
  • Cherie Priest
  • Dan Simmons
  • Connie Willis
  • Jack Vance

Kick in more than the average amount for the bundle, and you also get:

  • Kelly Armstrong
  • Clive Barker
  • Ted Chiang
  • Maria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard
  • Barry Hughart
  • Tim Powers
  • John Scalzi (hi!)

And if you pay more than $15, you also get:

  • Joe Lansdale
  • Robert McCammon
  • K.J. Parker

Basically, that’s a whole lot of excellent reading, from fantastic authors. Pay what you want, get everything you pay for completely DRM-free. And in doing so, you’ll also help out the Worldbuilders charity, as a cut of the proceeds goes to that.

Go get it now: Great authors, a great charity and a great value. This is totally worth your time and money. And tell your friends about it too — this bundle won’t be around forever.

Subterranean Scalzi Super Bundle Available for a Limited Time

A couple of years ago, Subterranean Press released a “super bundle” of short stories and non-fiction books from me, perfect for completists who want to get lots of stuff of mine for a nice, low price. SubPress has revived the super bundle for a limited time with three new works in it: “To Sue The World,” a short story set in the Redshirts universe (those of you who saw me on that book tour will remember me reading it with Wil Wheaton, Paul Sabourin and other friends); “Lock In Lost Chapters,” featuring two chapters from a previous (and unreleased) version of the novel Lock In; and The Mallet of Loving Correction, my second collection of Whatever entries. All for $8.99, and all DRM-free.

Why release it now? Because Subterranean Press wants to give the proceeds to a local non-profit: A fencing studio (that’s the fencing with swords, not with, uh, fences) which is looking to upgrade its facilities and programs. I can get behind that, so I’ll be donating my share as well. So, it’s a chance to get a lot of cool stories at a good price while helping folks.

Here’s the whole list of contents for the SubPress Scalzi Super Bundle:

  • To Sue the World (an original, very short Redshirts story available nowhere else)
  • Muse of Fire
  • Mallet of Loving Correction
  • Lock In, Lost Chapters (available nowhere else)
  • How I Proposed To My Wife: An Alien Sex Story
  • An Election
  • Judge Sn Goes Golfing
  • Questions for a Soldier
  • The Sagan Diary
  • The Tale of the Wicked
  • The God Engines
  • You’re Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop

Again: This is available only for a limited time (about two weeks), so if you want it, come and get it. Thanks!

Lock In: It’s Out!

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Today’s the day: Lock In is out! And because it is, now, in one handy post, here is everything you could possibly need to know about this book.

The novel is getting some of the best reviews of my career to date, include starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist. Io9 calls it one of my best novels yet; others have also been nicely positive.

You can read the first five chapters at Tor.com. You can also read the related novella “Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome” at Tor.com.

I encourage you to buy your copy at your local bookstore. You can also buy the book at these online stores: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBooks|Indiebound|Google Play|Kobo|Powell’s. The electronic version of the book (in North America) comes without DRM.

The audiobook, published by Audible.com, comes in two versions: One read by Amber Benson, and one by Wil Wheaton. Both versions come with the full novel and also include an audio version of “Unlocked,” read by a full cast. Click here to be taken to Audible’s Lock In page, which includes purchase links for both versions.

See Wil and Amber talk about the book in an interview here.

The book also comes with its own theme song, by William Beckett.

I am on tour supporting the book. Here are the tour dates, and a tour FAQ. Please come see me on tour!

I am super proud of this book, and I am so very happy it is finally out there in the world. I really hope you all like it as much as I do. I think you will.

 

Three Things on a Monday Morning

They are:

1. I’m traveling back home today, so once again don’t expect too much here. Don’t worry, you’ll get a full blast tomorrow, even if I don’t in fact get bored and write a post on the plane. Seattle was lovely; Emerald City Comicon was a blast.

2. Today is the VERY LAST DAY to nominate for the Hugos, so if you have not done so (and can), now’s the time to do it. You have until 11:59pm Pacific time. Get to it, folks.

3. Tomorrow will be the last day to get the latest edition of the Humble e-Book Bundle, the drm-free set of excellent science fiction and fantasy works which includes “The God Engines,” i.e., “The Most Cheerful Thing John Scalzi’s Ever Written” (note for the sarcasm-impaired: It’s not actually cheerful at all, quite the opposite in fact). Remember that you can name your price and that a portion of the proceeds go to charity. Can’t lose on this one.

Have an excellent Monday, folks.

 

The God Engines Now Added to Humble Bundle 3

Here’s the cool thing: The God Engines, my Hugo and Nebula nominated novella, is now part of the Humble eBook Bundle 3, a collection of DRM-free electronic works. The God Engines joins Jumper by Stephen Gould, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Tithe by Holly Black, and several other books by some of the best science fiction and fantasy writers today.

And how much do you pay? Well, that’s the thing: You pay as much or as little as you like for the Humble Bundle. But the more you pay, the more titles you unlock — and if you kick in $15, you’ll get the audiobook version of Cory Doctorow’s novel Homeland, narrated by Wil Wheaton (who has a book of his own in the bundle). $15 for eleven titles in total is not a bad deal at all.

And, when you buy the Humble Bundle, not only does your payment go to the authors, it also goes to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund (supporting science fiction and fantasy writers when they get into medical scrapes) and to Worldreader, dedicated to increase literacy worldwide. Two good causes, supported by this one bundle.

If you want this bundle — and why would you not? — move quickly: It’s only available for one more week.

Again, here’s the link. Happy reading!