When Tor.com launched a little under a year ago, we had a long list of things we wanted the blog to be: an online science-fiction and fantasy magazine for stories and comics, a group blog featuring both pros and fans, and a community site for SF/F fandom. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of us. Some people were confused about the fact that we were actively trying to be as publisher agnostic as we could be, because we believe that other imprints besides Tor Books put out quality SF/F too (some people are still confused, and that’s fine—we’re working on them with our Jedi mind tricks). Other people were disappointed that we weren’t going to be selling books. A subset of those people were upset that we weren’t selling ebooks in particular. We do a lot of listening over here, and it quickly became clear that we needed to build a bookstore.
Well, we certainly took our sweet time (in internet time, that is—by publishing standards, we’re maxing out the FTL drives on the Flatiron building), but today we’re ready to roll out the first part of our bookstore. At first we weren’t sure exactly how to go about it, since Tor.com was conceived from the outset as more of a fan site and less of a retail outlet, and we wanted to make sure we created a store that was both unique and useful, but most importantly that kept true to soul of Tor.com’s initial mission.
You can go and check out the store here. I’ll wait to explain the features until you get back.
In keeping with Tor.com’s publisher-agnostic attitude, the Tor.com Store offers science fiction and fantasy media from most major publishers—the only requirement is that the books in question relate to the genre in some form or another. In keeping with the spirit of our “...And Related Subjects” tagline, we’ve made sure to be as inclusive as possible, and are going to be constantly updating and refining the selection of titles available in the Store.
In order to make the Tor.com Store a curated space for SF/F books, we’re taking advantage of our biggest asset: the voices of our bloggers. The Store’s Special Picks section features lists of books made up by our community of authors, artists and bloggers—if you want a handy list of most of the books Jo Walton has blogged about on the site; if you want to know what books Ellen Datlow considers the most influential SF books (this week); or if you’re curious as to what books Leigh Butler considers to be the “sweatpants of literature”, this is the area of the store you want to check out first. We’ve got a nice handful of lists to start with, and we’ll be adding more continually.
Creating this type of bookstore from within a single large publisher has been an interesting learning experience, and is an ongoing process—we’ve still got plenty up our sleeves, including, of course, an ebook store. We’re dead-set on getting this as right as we possibly can: we want to sell you ebooks that are a pleasure to read, are useful and hassle-free to manage, and we want to sell them to you in a way that is as simple and as unencumbered by technology as we can possibly make it. As an ebook reader, these are headaches I’m all too familiar with, and I have no desire to enable them further. So it’s taking us a bit longer than the print store, but I’m happy to announce that we’ll soon also make ebooks available for sale, and in keeping with the spirit of Tor.com, the ebook store will carry titles from all SF/F publishers as well.
In the meantime, do enjoy our shiny new Store. Check out our Special Picks and our merchandise store. Kick the tires. Buy some books. Let us know what you think (you can either comment here or email me directly at pablo [dot] defendini [at] tor [dot] com—if you email, do include the subject line “TorStore Feedback”, please. It helps with my inbox-fu). And stay tuned for more developments: along with the upcoming Year’s Best Fantasy 9, edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, which will make its exclusive debut on the Tor.com Store in the coming weeks, I’m particularly excited about playing with Brandon Sanderson’s new novel, Warbreaker, and Cory Doctorow’s upcoming Makers, among other cool projects. As always, watch the skies!