Wed
Jun 17 2009 11:45am

Announcing the Tor.com Store!

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!

80 comments
Tex Anne
1. TexAnne
You know what would be cool? Links between Jo's reviews and the store.
Linda Frear
2. tanguera
Ooh, shiny and new. Very nice. I agree with putting links to the store into reviews.
Pablo Defendini
3. pablodefendini
@TexAnne, @tanguera
That would be cool, and it's what we'll be doing across the board going forward, of course. It would have been kind of silly to do so before the store was live, though!
Christopher Key
4. Artanian
OK, looks cool. A few comments. One is that the performance isn't great right now, it's a little sluggish.

I also don't see any e-editions up there, but I didn't browse the whole thing.

Anyways, I'm not sure exactly what the market is here, loyal customers who are willing to pay a price premium for slower service? Just checking, the couple of entries I looked at appear to be full retail, plus whatever shipping would be, and show 'ships within 48 hours'. So I'm just not sure who would use the service. Someone who can find your site, but can't find Amazon?

For me personally, the lists of books are great, but I would most likely see something that looked interesting, and go check and see if I can get it on the kindle, immediately.
Cash McManus
5. moneyman
Looking ok, but I'm not much interested unless/until non-DRM ebooks are availible. I'm now almost strickly an e-book reader. Those few books I want that I can't get as an ebook I get at the library. My main bookreader does not support DRM so still going to library if the books have DRM. Also ebooks should be resonably priced. It would be nice if Tor did something like webscriptions where we could buy an entire months release or group of books for a reduced price. I have found many new authors I now buy regularly because I get the webscription from baen each month.
Pablo Defendini
6. pablodefendini
@Artanian,
I also don't see any e-editions up there, but I didn't browse the whole thing.
Finish reading my post for info on the ebook situation.

@moneyman
I'm now almost strickly an e-book reader.
Me too. See above.

We'll also be doing special pricing and discounts in the near future—give us a chance to get some wind in our sails first ;)
Sean OBrien
7. spacetimestories
Tor's decision to list competition in the store is bold and forward looking. Thanks for not bowing to pressure from old-school business.


Increasing sales of scifi will help the entire industry.
Pablo Defendini
8. pablodefendini
@spacetimestories
Tor's decision to list competition in the store
I don't consider them 'competition', I consider them colleagues. There's space for everyone, and Tor.com itself is proving that there's something to non-zero-sum relationships; that the rising tide does lift all boats.
Paige Bruce
9. jhae
I really love the lists. Browsing through Leigh's, I could pick out a number of them that I already love, so it puts me in happy/trusting/spending consumer mode and makes me think, "Wow, I like those too, so I'll probably like these other ones!" Too bad I have no money to spend at the moment.

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing links to reviews (which you've already mentioned!) or letting customers have the ability to post up a quick review. Granted, I could pop over to Amazon instead, but that defeats the purpose, right? And folks here seem to be pretty smart in the ways of speculative fiction.

Will the e-books be strictly for readers or will they work just to download to a laptop, for example? (I am a bit ignorant when it comes to e-reading, forgive me!)
Pablo Defendini
10. pablodefendini
@jhae
We're toying with the idea of adding community features to the store, but we're firmly relegating those to version 2.0 for the time being.

More details on the ebook store will come later. Right now, a lot of things are still to be determined, so I can't be more specific.
Tex Anne
11. TexAnne
Pablo, I was thinking links from store to discussion.
Paul Howard
12. DrakBibliophile
Hope the ebook store will be ready in time for me to purchase the new David Weber Safehold novel.
Pablo Defendini
13. pablodefendini
@TexAnne
Ah, I see! That's certainly going into the v. 2.0 punchlist. Thanks for the suggestion!

@DrakBibliophile
Me too. ;) In the meantime, I'm tiding myself over with some Honor Harrington from Fictionwise.
Chris Meadows
14. Robotech_Master
It's a very nice website. Well-designed and all that.

But is there really any point?

Apart from the e-book issue, which there isn't any point addressing until there actually are e-books on the store…

Why in heaven's name am I going to want to go to your store and pay full hardcover price for books I can get much more cheaply elsewhere? If I'm going to order on-line anyway, instead of paying $24.95 for Starfinder at Tor, I'm probably going to want to pay $16.47 for it at Amazon.com, or $18.71 with free shipping at DeepDiscount.com, or…you get the idea.

This also doesn't make me terribly optimistic that your e-book prices, when they come, will be in line with what we've come to expect from Baen.

I don't think this emperor has any clothes.
Bill Swears
15. Bill Swears
When I walk into B&N, I can go back to the f&sf section and browse alphabetically by author. Here, I only seem to be able to browse by subject or date.

Also, as neat as I think a publisher agnostic f&sf bookstore might be, I'd like to be able to get a list of TOR authors and browse their books, maybe like a room off the side of the main store?

Bill
Paul Howard
16. DrakBibliophile
Pablodefendini, I can't tiding myself over as I got every thing by Weber either in Ebook format or have ordered the Ebook format.
Bill Swears
17. NickPheas
Good luck with it, though since I'm primarily interested in it for eBooks there's nothing there yet I'm really interested in.

Your search tools need a bit more work. 'George RR Martin' brings up nothing, 'Wild Cards' brings up three books, all of which mention GRRM.

When selling multiple editions you need to make it clear what you're getting for your money. For instance, Philip Reeve's splendid Predator's Gold comes up in two paperback editions, one at $7.99, one at $18.45. So what would I get for that extra $10.46? No sign of A Darkling Plain,Feever Crumb or the Larklight series. Buy them people.

So, then again, if you're still working out what you want to do as far as an eBook store goes, there are a few things I'd look for in somewhere I want to spend my money:

* DRM? Forget about it.
* Formats? As many as possible. Don't expect me to buy a new machine or faff about looking for yet another bit of software for my antiquated phone. Personally I want mobipocket or lit, but make sure the Sony owners are catered for as well.
* Prices? Keep it realistic. Webscription is still offering On Armageddon Reef for $18 against Amazon's $7.99. I assume that Tor just don't want to sell any copies. Obviously, as a customer I like the normal Websciption policy of $6 a book, regardless of whether the dead tree edition is in hard or soft cover. That said, if the price is going to be a bit higher when the book's in hard covers then OK, I can wait so long as the prices reflect the physical copies. Just don't go the way of the UK Borders eBook store where it's consistently more expensive to buy an eBook than to have a dead tree edition shipped to you.
Pablo Defendini
18. pablodefendini
@Robotech_Master
I was wondering when you'd chime in. Regarding pricing, give us a week or two to get some traction—we will indeed be rolling out some sweet discounts and offers.

We'll talk about ebooks when the ebook store is ready—as of right now, you're correct: its not worth talking about what—for now—is just so much vaporware.

@Bill Swears, @NickPheas
Our data is a work in progress. We're working off of the data provided by Ingram Data Services (same people who feed data to Amazon, Powell's, et. al.), and are correcting their information as we spot errors or omissions.

That said, if there's a book you can't find in the store but you think it should be there, shoot us an email at webmaster tor com (with the subject line: "TorStore Feedback", please) with the ISBN, and we'll get it rolled in.
Richard Fife
20. R.Fife
My only thought: needs more "umlaut" merchandise. I think I truly would buy a tordot or a tördötcöm shirt/hat. Did you give any thought to vanity-ware?
Dave Thompson
21. DKT
Looks nice. Glad there's a section for comics :)

Is there any chance you might get some audiobooks put up in the future? Preferrably non-DRM audiobooks?
Karen Lofstrom
22. DPZora
I decided to browse through the author list and found that I'd have to manually page from A to B to C ... Hey, I want it all on ONE PAGE. I don't care if it's in small print. As long as I can read it FAST, all at once.

Or you could at least give us that option, like "single page view" for multi-page articles.
Pablo Defendini
23. pablodefendini
@R.Fife
TörDötCöm merch is coming. Comic Sans optional.

@DKT
Audiobooks: there are physical MP3 and audio CDs for sale in the store. Downloads are another story. Maybe in the future.

@DPZora
Single page view for authors would take a long, long, looong time to load... if you're looking for 'FAST', that's not the way to go!
Bill Swears
24. Vivi Anna
Looks good, I like that I can find ALL scifi/fantasy books here. Now I don't have to go to Amazon to browse what I primarily am looking for.

As for categories of books....what about Urban Fantasy? I don't see if listed.
Eoin Purcell
25. Eoinpurcell
Love the new store and excited by the concept of "publisher agnosticism" spreading beyond just discussion! I hope it works.

Eoin
Bill Swears
26. SirBruce
What a waste of your time and money. Selling pbooks from other publishers, at prices no one is going to be interested in, incurring all those costs for handling and upkeep? What are you possibly thinking?

Meanwhile you've had over a year to get ebooks right and you still can't manage it, yet everyone else is releasing ebooks left and right. That's where the opportunity for Tor is, and yet you continue to blow it.

Have a clue. Take two, they're free.
Pablo Defendini
27. pablodefendini
*sigh*
Everyone's a critic.
What are we possibly thinking? Dunno, but I'll tell you how we're thinking: in slightly broader, more strategic, cooperative, holistic, and longer-timescale terms than you seem to be.

Although to be perfectly fair, you sound like me two years ago. Except I was more polite. I've learned a little bit about the publishing industry since then, and hold better-informed opinions than I used to.
Pablo Defendini
28. pablodefendini
@Vivi Anna
Urban Fantasy isn't actually a category (or sub-category, as I expected it to be) as 'officially designated' by our data provider, but we're looking into workarounds for this problem, as it affects other sub-genres as well (think Yaoi manga, or cyberpunk, or steampunk, or hard SF, etc.).

The books you're looking for are probably there, though, under Fantasy.
Bill Swears
29. 'nother Mike
Just a thought on the authors' list -- I think what people are really hoping to do is grab something that they can go through at their leisure and perhaps markup on their own machine. Perhaps an excel list or comma-delimited list could be zipped and made available for download? Or even a set of html pages? This could be especially useful for those who are trying to compare to a home library list, for example.
Pablo Defendini
30. pablodefendini
@ 'nother Mike
Oooo, interesting ::makes a note for 2.0::
Chris Meadows
31. Robotech_Master
@pablo: Well, that's great. If your prices/discounts get competitive with other booksellers, I'll be delighted to sing your praises. And I'll certainly include your prices in the comparison I make whenever I decide to buy a physical book from somewhere. In this economy, nobody is going to want to pay more than they have to.

I do think nickpheas had a good point about the pricing on Off Armageddon Reef.
Bill Swears
32. SirBruce
@pablodefendini

What are we possibly thinking? Dunno, but I'll tell you how we're thinking: in slightly broader, more strategic, cooperative, holistic, and longer-timescale terms than you seem to be.


A strategic, holistic, longer timescale that doesn't include ebooks? Sorry, you fail. I know you say they're coming, but again, you've been saying that for quite some time now. EVEN IF IT IS TRUE, launching the pbook store first after so many ebook delays only serves to undercut your credibility on this issue. It also prompts one to ask how many resources were diverted for this venture that could have been working on the ebooks instead. At the very least you should have held off on the store until ebooks were ready and launched both simultaneously.

But I'll give your position due consideration. You're strategic, long-term goal is to run a web-based bookstore dedicated to speculative fiction titles? It's not a bad idea. But I'm not convinced of the value proposition. Okay, you have some great content from people in the industry. But at the end of the day, even if I read the review at Tor.com, I'm going to go buy the book from Amazon.com where it's cheaper. Just like a video game consumer may read a review on 1Up.com and then go buy it from Gamestop.com.

The bigger question is: does Tor.com REALLY have the staffing and resources to commit to being an online retailer of books beyond simply their own? I don't see it, and if we assume that revenues from book sales from other publishers is relatively minor, I'm not convinced that simply driving traffic to Tor.com as a retailer is going to result in increased sales of Tor's books to justify the cost. But, we'll see. I don't think it's impossible; I just think Tor is better served putting its resources elsewhere.

Although to be perfectly fair, you sound like me two years ago. Except I was more polite. I've learned a little bit about the publishing industry since then, and hold better-informed opinions than I used to.


That's a bit unfair since it implies my opinions must be wrong since they must be less-informed. The argument from authority is a logical fallacy.
Pablo Defendini
33. pablodefendini
@ Robotech_Master
You and I should have a nice, long chat when we're ready to launch the ebook store. I'll keep you posted.
I do think nickpheas had a good point about the pricing on Off Armageddon Reef.
I think so too.

@SirBruce
A strategic, holistic, longer timescale that doesn't include ebooks?
Who said that? Certainly not me.
You're strategic, long-term goal is to run a web-based bookstore dedicated to speculative fiction titles? It's not a bad idea.
Actually, as a long-term, strategic goal, that *is* kind of a lame idea. The retail side of things (both print store and vaporwa—excuse me, ebook store) is a tactic within a larger strategy. As for the rest of your points, I'm not going to fisk your comment. You'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully we'll prove you wrong.

'Cause if we don't, I'm out of a job. And that, sir, would suck ;)
Chris Meadows
34. Robotech_Master
@pablo: Great, I'd be delighted to have that talk.

If I seem a little…strident sometimes, it's only because I like Tor, on the whole, and want it to be the best it can. I wouldn't get nearly so passionate about something I didn't like. :)
Cassandra Phillips-Sears
35. cphillips-sears
Pablo, you'll want to fix the description of the author on this page, and perhaps check it elsewhere:
Pablo Defendini
37. pablodefendini
@Robotech_Master: Nothing wrong with that.

@cphillips-sears. The link is just pointing to the homepage. Can you email me the link to the address above (with the subject line "TorStore Feedback", please)?
Bill Swears
38. SirBruce
@pablodefendini

I'm not going to engage you any further on this topic, since you seem to be intent on using cheap debating tricks rather than seriously discussing the issue. Really now, selectively cutting off my quote to accuse me of not knowing you said ebooks were coming, when I *specifically* referenced that fact in the following sentence and explained why my point stil stood? Such dishonorable tactics not become you, sir. I wish you good luck and good day.
Pablo Defendini
39. pablodefendini
@ SirBruce
You know, I have a very hard time taking you MobileRead peeps seriously. Every time you guys come over to evangelize about ebooks, you come in guns-blazing—confrontational, angry, and sarcastic. I makes it seem like you're all a bunch of angry zealots.

Now, I know that's not true; there's plenty of civil, informative, respectful, interesting and intelligent conversation going on at MobileRead, I know because I lurk there a lot. Additionally, some of your community members, like Robotech_Master, for example, have become valuable members of our community, and are reasoned and engaging voices which I'm richer for being exposed to.

But coming onto our site and calling me a liar, telling us we fail, and arrogantly assuming you have all the answers and that we don't know what the hell we're doing does not make me want to engage with you. It makes me think less of you, less of your community, and makes me want to dismiss you offhand.
Matt Austern
40. austern
Feature request! I'd like a better way to browse through authors. Once I go to the first letter of the author's name, I only get 20 names on a page. I have to keep clicking and clicking and clicking to get through all of them. I'll have to click 115 times if I want to browse through everyone whose name starts with S. Nobody will do that.

(But yeah... It's a cool store, and it'll be even cooler when you start selling ebooks. I have feature requests lined up for that too, but maybe I should wait to see what you're doing first.)
Bill Swears
41. anappo
As far as I can tell, online book selling started off with www.books.com (B&N have now bought out the domain name apparently). That must have been 1993-94 because Amazon launched at least one year later, on 1995. Thats at least 15 years ago. And unlike you, they did do international shipping. Five years passed. Then Eric Flint convinced Jim Baen to launch Webscription on 1999. Now, -they- were slow to adapt to radically changed information distribution infrastructure. By 1999 technical means to sell texts had been available for 10+ years already.

So now, since Webscription launch, 10 more years have passed. What is it that the publishing industry have done with that time? Other than adopting DRM and geographic restrictions from the music and movie industries?

In SF/F there is this thing called "suspension of disbelief" that good stories cause to take place in the minds of their readers. From your enthusiastic announcement, it appears you expect me to believe that with the launch of your webstore, the trend that has been evident over the last couple of decades will suddenly reverse itself. That TOR is now just about to spearhead a collective embrace by your industry, of DRM-free and platform-agnostic e-books. Sorry, but suspension of disbelief failed to happen.

> It makes me think less of you, less of your
> community, and makes me want to dismiss you offhand.

Good to know you can emphatise with these sentiments.
Pablo Defendini
42. pablodefendini
@austern
Shoot me an email (see above) with feature requests. I'll put them in the list I'm compiling.

@anappo
Thanks for the history lesson.
some guy
43. NateTheGreat
You know, I have a very hard time taking you MobileRead peeps seriously. Every time you guys come over to evangelize about ebooks, you come in guns-blazing—confrontational, angry, and sarcastic. I makes it seem like you're all a bunch of angry zealots.

Just out of curiosity, when was the last time someone came over from MR to evangelize about ebooks? I don't know; I'm not into SF fandom so I don't follow your blog all that much. I doubt that it happens very often.

It makes me think less of you, less of your community, and makes me want to dismiss you offhand.

XXXXXXXX
I had an interesting comment about what you're doing in this last post, but then I decided that if you want to stick your foot in your mouth, who am I to stop you.

I'm not going to say what you did wrong, that would be name calling. If you want to continue this in private, you have my email.
C C
44. Hatgirl
Congratulations on getting the store up and running. I'm really impressed that you guys are stocking such a wide range of merchandise.

However, as this is the WORLD Wide Web, could you make it more obvious on the site that you only ship to the US? That information is only available when someone pays, unless they read all of the "Help" section before even trying to buy something (I did that, but I'm odd).

Also, as a member of the MobileRead forum, that was a pretty big generalization you made about us. I don't think I've ever ranted about DRM at you. I just never buy anything with DRM. Ever.
Pablo Defendini
45. pablodefendini
@44 Hatgirl
could you make it more obvious on the site that you only ship to the US?
An excellent suggestion, thanks!

that was a pretty big generalization you made about us.
You're right, it was. That's why I made sure to qualify it with the fact that I don't believe that generalization to be accurate. I actually enjoy MR very much.
Bill Swears
46. anappo
> Thanks for the history lesson.

Good point. On internet time, what happened years ago -is- history. A practical use of history is using it as basis to predict future. So, based on recent history, I predict that when you eventually launch your e-book store, most of the content on it will be crippled with DRM and with geographically restricted access. To buy from your store, I would then have to fool the geo-restriction by paying with paypal account with it's address set to alaska or something and after that I will need to mess around with scripts to get rid of the DRM. Which would make buying your stuff illegal twice allover but really, just why bother?

I'd like to be wrong but until that happens, I will continue to vote with my wallet, elsewhere.

Case in point, unlike anglo-american publishing industry, russians seem to have their act together, in form of www.litres.ru Not only is there no DRM in sight, they actually list links to sites with free online copies of the books so that people can check out the content before they buy it. Apart from a minor glitch with their (unprotected) prc format, I can't actually think of anything they should change with that service. Lucky me I can read in russian.

I do wish someone in english speaking world would come up with something similar. But I'm no longer counting on it.
Paul Howard
47. DrakBibliophile
Anappo, you are aware of the association with Tor Books and Jim Baen? There was an earlier attempt to see TOR ebooks via Baen's WebScription that was killed by the corp that owns TOR. WebScription ebooks lack DRM and are sold for a reasonable price.

Everything I've heard about TOR's upcoming ebook store leads me to believe that TOR will either be selling ebooks via Webscriptions or using the WebScription model (IE sans DRM).

Webscriptions has done a great job for Baen Books and the TOR people you're ranting at are aware of the success of Webscriptions.

In short, you're ranting at the wrong people.
Paul Howard
48. DrakBibliophile
Pablo, another suggestion for the store. Could you seperate books from DVDs/Videos/Audio Books?

Basically if I'm looking for SF books, I don't want to see listings of SF DVDs. I'm also sure people looking for SF DVDs don't want to see listings of SF books.
Pablo Defendini
49. pablodefendini
@DrakBibliophile
We're working on categorizing by media as well. Wrangling the data in the store is our number one job right now. Thanks for the suggestion.
Cash McManus
50. moneyman
After seeing all the comments, I must say that I want to give You (Tor) the benifit of the doubt. Seems like you are thinking along the right lines.

If this is done well, I will be a big supporter. I love TOR content and I am cranky that it is hard to get ebooks I can use from TOR. I spend a lot of money at baen but I could see spending more at Tor under the right conditions. I read at least 3 books a week so I need content!

Some other comments: pretty similar to others above. I am really a fan of the simple displays. rather than repeating the same book for different additions.. list it once with links and prices for all the various additions.
Front page looks looks nice. good to see "whats new", "Whats coming", " specials" and so on.
It would nice to be able to modify the search specificly for a certain type of format like ebook or audiobook for example.
Clearly reviews/rating of books would be good.

I'll be waiting..
Torie Atkinson
51. Torie
Pablo, SirBruce, and annapo:

Let's not hijack the thread with speculation on the ebookstore that doesn't exist yet. There will be plenty of time for that when it's in place.

Please stick to the topic of the post: the print bookstore. We are definitely soliciting feedback on that one, and invite your comments and concerns. Thank you to all those who have responded already!
Bill Swears
52. anappo
> the print bookstore.

Feedback? Sure. If you plan in "longer-timescale terms" then it really helps if the far end of that longer-timescale is located in the future, rather than 15 years in the past. Which was when amazon stomped out books.com, securing dominance over the field you are now apparently trying to enter.

Which is basically another, somewhat politically correct way of saying what SirBruce said in his post #26 Tone aside, I see no flaw in his assessment.
Torie Atkinson
53. Torie
@ 52 anappo

You've already made your point. Move on, no more threadjacking. This is your last warning.
Chris Meadows
54. Robotech_Master
One reason why people, myself included, might want to buy print books from this bookstore is the same reason that a lot of people go out and buy the e-book or print-book version of books that Baen has already given away electronically for free: brand loyalty, wanting to support the company with their dollars.

This is especially true given that the publisher is cutting out the middle-man and stands to keep all the proceeds from the sale (save for those it passes on to the author.)

However, in the current economy, most consumers are not going to want to pay full price for a book. They might be willing to go a buck or two higher than Amazon, but loyalty has its limits.

Pablo says that shortly they will have a discount and sale program up and running. I see no reason to doubt him, so I will be looking forward to re-assessing it at that time.

In regard to anappo and SirBruce, I'm not sure that Tor is necessarily selling books to make an Amazon-style profit. If they make only a little money on each sale after overhead costs are subtracted, or even just break even, the bookstore will still serve as an added attraction to the tor.com website overall, making it "stickier" and more attractive to search engines, and helping build the Tor brand.

The important thing, then, is not to lose money. And I'm sure that if it does start to lose money, it will be closed down. After all, Tor isn't Amazon and can't afford to run expensive loss-leaders.
Liza .
55. aedifica
Robotech_Master @ 54: I'm not associated with TOR or tor.com (aside from having an account here) and certainly don't have all the facts behind the workings of the bookstore, but I wanted to point out that Pablo's mention of Ingram implies to me that they're keeping at least one middleman, the invisible one. I used to work at a bookstore, and we didn't order directly from publishers, we ordered from Ingram. Sounds like tor.com is doing that too. Someone on the inside correct me?
Ken Neth
56. neth
any thoughts on having a referral program?
Pablo Defendini
57. pablodefendini
@aedifica #55

You're quite correct. Whether the qualifier "unfortunately" should be appended to that sentence is a matter for debate.

@neth #56
Plenty of 'em. We'll even implement some of those thoughts in the future. If I have my druthers, we'll focus on empowering and enabling independent/individual booksellers.
David Lomax
58. dlomax
I'm very excited that Tor will be selling ebooks. If you do it right, the Sony eBook store won't get much money from me anymore.
Alexander Gieg
59. alexgieg
Congratulations on the new e-store. Unfortunately I won't be able to buy from it as it's US-only.

By the way, a question: is there a special reason for not providing international shipment?

I mean, I don't know how shipping works in the large scale side of things, but on the small one it's usually a matter of adding a line in the address label and paying more at the postal office. Is the logistics of business international shipments actually much complexer?
Bill Swears
60. RobPreece
Any way for a small publisher to sign up?

Rob Preece
Publisher, www.BooksForABuck.com
Pablo Defendini
61. pablodefendini
@alexgieg #59
*sigh* I know. As someone who grew up outside the US, I'm with you in your frustration. The store, as its set up initially, can't do international orders, but I'm looking into it, to see what we can do about it. Thing is, it's not just about shipping issues, there are also rights issues at play. No promises just yet, but it's certainly something I'd love to make happen.

@RobPreece #60
Email me. Read to the end of the post for email info.
pir anha
62. piranha
when i first saw the announcement in email i got all excited, because i immediately thought "ebooks! finally!!!". so the reality of it, especially living in canada, is a let-down. and FYI, while i am willing to pay more out of loyalty, i am not willing to pay THAT much more. i am still buying from powells instead of amazon despite their removal of the shipping discount, but i am no longer buying new from them; it's just too much money. and i know i am not exactly in a majority anyway with my loyalty buys; most people care more about the bottom line.

i'll wait a bit longer for the ebook store, but i gotta tell you, by now fictionwise has earned my loyalty, and you will have to do something extraordinary to beat that.

i was at least gonna congratulate you, pablo, on being so even-handed and courteous in the face of aggressive posturing, but then you had to go and rag on mobileread, *sigh*. i'm one of "them", and so far it's been way more useful to me than tor.com. don't undercut yourself like that.

anyway, i hope the store succeeds because more choice in the market and support for independents is a good thing.
Alexander Gieg
63. alexgieg
@piranha: I'm also a happy Fictionwise customer but, to be honest, I don't like how they (together with other stores, let's be fair) started imposing geographical restrictions.

On the other hand, it's a good thing that geographically-restricted ebooks are also the easiest to find at torrent sites, as this at least provides for a very special kind of vindicative satisfaction. ~evil grin~

When, whenever I find an ebook I *am* willing to buy, but the publisher/author doesn't allow me to, I send an e-mail like this to its contact address:

"Dear Sir,

"I've attempted the best I could to buy the ebook 'a', by your author 'b', at e-stores 'c', 'd', 'e' and 'f'. But since I live in Brazil and under your instructions it seems all of them are obliged to practice anti-Brazilian discrimination, none accepted my legal tender. Therefore my only solution was to pirate it at http://......

"However, notwithstanding your discriminatory, geographistical practices, I'm still willing to pay for it. So, whenever you want me to send you the full price of '$g' dollars said ebook costs, please inform me of your preferred e-mail address and I'll start a Paypal transfer.

"Sincerely,

"Alexander Gieg, Brazil"

For some strange reason though, so far none replied. ;)
E Lynn Frank
64. elfwreck
@jhae, #9:
Right now, pretty much all ebook formats have software that will let you read them on a computer as well. Amazon's proprietary Kindle & Topaz formats are the only ones that don't. But you can't buy those without a Kindle (or iPhone) anyway, and only Amazon distributes them, so it's not a concern.

I don't believe any of the other several dozen ebook formats are restricted to ebook-readers only, and certainly the most common half-dozen are all readable on computers.
Chris Meadows
65. Robotech_Master
Personally, I'm rather curious how it is that Amazon seems able to ship stuff internationally without having trouble with "rights issues". They seem quite happy to do it, in either direction, with certain exceptions (toys from Britain to the US, for instance) that don't seem to involve books.

I'm also saddened by e-book sellers' short-sighted geographical discrimination policies. It doesn't make sense not to sell an English book to someone living in, say, Brazil or Portugal who wants to buy it—because who on earth is going to pay for the English-language book rights for a country that doesn't speak it as the primary language? And even in countries like England, if there is no one selling it in English there, why refuse to take their money?
Pablo Defendini
66. pablodefendini
@piranha #62
then you had to go and rag on mobileread
Yeah, I was angry and I reacted off the cuff. I should have known better, and I apologize. I thought I worded it in a way that made it clear that I don't think badly of the MobileRead community in general, but clearly I was wrong. MR is certainly a useful, civil, and very, very informative forum, and I regret giving the impression that I thought otherwise.
Richard Fife
67. R.Fife
Hmm, ok, just found the link to the cafepress merch, and while I know you said more is coming (including umlaut wear), but are there any plans for using a distributer other than cafepress? The few products I've gotten or seen from there are always fairly shoddy, and of course the prices are jacked besides (either that, or I need to stop shopping at walmart and the salvation army and relearn what clothes cost). Regardless, unless something has changed, their products have fairly low durability and are not something I'd want to sink that kind of money in just to have the screen-printed logo flake off after two washes.

*/rant*
Bill Swears
68. SirBruce
@pablodefendini

I'll give this another chance. You seem to recognize you came off as angry to MR folks, although you don't seem to have an apology for me. But I'm willing to accept perhaps you spoke too hastily in response to my words as well. Unfortunately, your cohort in this thread has banned the discussion of a certain topic, so it's very difficult to explain to you why your bookstore is a bad idea because it doesn't contain That Which Shall Not Be Named, even if you say That Which Shall Not Be Named is part of your long-term strategy. To me, if it's not part of it RIGHT NOW, and frankly it's more like LAST MONTH, then your strategy is suspect, whateve it is.

But I know what it's like to work hard on something and have other people tear it down. I'm sure the online physical bookstore took a lot of time and effort and it looks well done. But you asked for honest opinions, and my honest opinion is it's a waste of resources that should be spent on That Which Shall Not Be Named. Selling your own physical books via an online storefront, sure; lots of publishers are doing that. That's fine. But I see no advantage, even long-term, to trying to sell books from other publishers. I think doing that will turn out to be a big cost in time and resources better spent selling more Tor books. It also makes the sting of not doing That Which Shall Not Be Named, which WOULD be your most productive course of action, even worse. And as you can see, it generated a negative response from some MR folks. If I were in on that strategy meeting for your long-term vision that you can't really elaborate on more, I would have said, about the physical store, "Hey, cool idea Bob, but let's hold off on that until That Which Shall Not Be Named is ready to go along with it. And let's revisit this idea of selling competitor's books; are we really willing to devote the necessary resources to do that?"

Did I come off harsh in my first post? Sure, but I was trying to drive the seriousness of my belief home. Perhaps you're defensive because you don't have any control over That Which Shall Not Be Named and you're doing the best you can with the given situation and are very proud about your new online store. In that case, please don't take my comments personally; they're directed at the faceless corporate management that has put you in that questionable position.

An even worse reaction would have been if I said "Meh" and not posted at all, because that would indicate I don't even care enough about Tor to tell them just how wrong I think their approach is from a business standpoint. But hey, I could be wrong. At least you can take away from this that I still care.
Torie Atkinson
69. Torie
@ 68 SirBruce

The point isn't that it "cannot be named," the point is that it's not the topic of this thread. This is your last warning on threadjacking: Move on.
Pablo Defendini
70. pablodefendini
@R.Fife #67

We set up the Cafepress store before we knew about the issues you mention, and frankly, it was so easy to set up that we let it lie while we concentrated on the more complex tasks surrounding the bookstore proper. Thanks for the feedback—we're looking into it.
Bill Swears
71. bgalbrecht
To start out, I have a couple of minor nits, it's The Shockwave Rider, not The Shockwave Riders. Piers Anthony and Piers A. Jacob are the same person and should not be listed as co-authors. Why does Julian Comstock list Robert Charles Wilson and Robert Charles Wilson as authors? Are they clones? While I've never heard of them, I'm pretty sure that Alfonso Azpiri and Alphonso Azpiri are the same person, likewise true for Brain Azzarello and Brian Azzarello. I'm guessing you get data from elsewhere so it would be hard to clean it up, but there are so many errors that it looks like you're trying for quantity rather quality.

I like that the alphabetical author list also lists their works, but not that the list is limited to 20 authors per page, and that the names seem to be riddled with errors, and/or works by one author by multiple publishers get split into multiple entries.

Who is going to browse through 358 pages of the category "Science Fiction - General". Maybe you also need to add subdivisions of Sort by Title and Sort by Date for letter of the alphabet or by year or decade. Also, I think the sort by date is suspect, none of the Jules Verne or H. G. Wells show up on the first page, I know all their works were first published before Curt Siodmak's Donovan's Brain.

Sadly, I'm not likely to buy anything from Tor.com at this time. If I'm going to buy something in paper, and I'm going to pay full retail price for it, I'd rather get it from one of the two local, excellent, SF specialty bookstores here in the Twin Cities, Uncle Hugo's and Dreamhaven.
Pablo Defendini
72. pablodefendini
@ bgalbrecht #71
Our data is a work in progress. We're working off of the info provided by Ingram Data Services (same people who feed data to Amazon, Powell's, et. al.), and are correcting their information as we spot errors or omissions. We've noted the errors you mention, and are in the process of correcting them. Thanks.
Joy Debnath
73. Jaian
You probably can't answer it, but I'll ask anyway: what are the plans on releasing the next Wheel of Time novel as an e-book? I have bought every book multiple times (used to move around a lot, just bought the books again when I settled in a new place), but now I just stick with the lovely e-book compilation of the series someone put together.

I would much rather purchase the e-book if possible, can you tell us whether there is any realistic chance of this happening?

And SirBruce, do you know what a pompous tosser you come across as? You've pretty much guaranteed that your opinions and views are automatically ignored, but if that's what you were aiming for, congrats.
Pablo Defendini
74. pablodefendini
@ Jaian #73
I've actually been asked to not speak about ebook versions of the Wheel of Time, specifically. Sorry. Then again, the fact that I've been asked to not speak about it does leave a lot to the imagination, doesn't it?
Chris Meadows
75. Robotech_Master
I don't want to threadjack, but I think SirBruce does have a point. It's a point that, once made, does not need to be hammered into the ground with repetition, however, and that's all I'll say about it.

As Torie says, e-books simply aren't a factor in the current Tor store. Hopefully they will be soon. But until then, there's not any point in trying to discuss them in the context of the store we have.

So let's just consider Tor to have been once more made aware of the demand for their e-books, based on how many people brought them up in this thread about their currently-non-e-book store, and let the discussion move on.
Paul Howard
76. DrakBibliophile
Robotech_Master, why don't you start a thread on ebooks seperate from this one?
David Spiller
77. scifidavid
Good luck with the store. For my first purchase, I snatched up something that I couldn't get anywhere else, a Tor.com branded ringer t-shirt. So cool. As for books, I look forward to the promised "sweet discounts and offers. And as several others have mentioned, the lists are awesome.
Bill Swears
78. Leon Jester
Several comments, sir:

1) Your indexing needs work, you've listed Marion Zimmer Bradley's audio books by the name of the reader. I certainly wouldn't look for them by that algorithm, even if I DID know the name of the reader. This has likely occurred with other authors also.

2) Your coding needs work; it doesn't display well with Firefox/Mozilla. You might have someone check your pages on a machine with other browsers than IE.

3) You're competing with Amazon and B&N, I'd adjust prices accordingly, or you all will be sitting on a lot of unsold stock comes inventory time.

4) I understand it's a bit of a sore point with Tor's German owners/accountants, but electronic books for more than the cost of the same book in MM paperback can only be described as hallucenogenic. The format is electronic, doesn't involve either press time or a distribution network.

4a) If Tor gets MS submissions in electronic form from it's authors, then the final edit MS shouldn't be horribly difficult to convert to a digital book form. HTML will do nicely, people can go from that to whatever format/style they wish. Point in fact, I do that routinely with e-books from Baen.

4b) Should the accountants raise the spectre of "but then the buyer could print it" I will point out that even with a laser printer, the cost would come close to, or exceed, that of a printed offering. Get real. That's not going to happen on a large enough scale to be worth consideration.

4c) It's well established that DRM-free electronic versions boost backlist sales for authors, contact Misty Lackey or Eric Flint for specific numbers, they've published them elsewhere.

5) Other than the odd glitch with coding, you've a nicely readable site. Congratulations, best wishes for success.
Bill Swears
80. SirBruce
I couldn't resist revisiting this thread 2 and a half years later to check the results:

1. Tor.com's store no longer exists, and was terminated without any fanfare. The old links don't go anywhere, not even to a "We're sorry, we made a horrible mistake" page. http://store.tor.com

2. 10 months after this, Tor.com finally announced an ebook store, to be launched shortly thereafter. Talk about late to the party.

3. The ebook store never launched, although the URL for that still works and still proudly anticipates a launch in Summer 2012. http://www.tor.com/store

Pablo, I know failure is painful, but in this case, it was also avoidable. I believe you owe me (and MobileRead as well) an apology for your callous dismissal of what turned out to be valid concerns.

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