Wed
Sep 9 2009 3:55pm

Announcing Year’s Best Fantasy 9

Tor.com is proud to announce the immediate availability of David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer’s definitive anthology, Year’s Best Fantasy 9.

This highly anticipated release also marks something we’re particularly proud of: Tor.com’s debut as a publishing entity, distinct from Tor Books and as a separate imprint under our shared corporate overlords at Macmillan.

YBF 9 is available only as a print-on-demand book, in keeping with our mission of always exploring alternative forms of publishing. Similar to the launch of the Tor.com Store, this title is one of our various publishing projects that seek to experiment with the available alternatives to publishing’s traditional sales, distribution, and delivery mechanisms.

Year’s Best Fantasy 9 is available in the Tor.com Store, of course, as well as via online retailers such as Amazon, B&N, and more. As you’d expect with multiple Hugo Award-nominated (and recent winner) editors like David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, the Table of Contents for YBF 9 is impressive (and I’m not just saying that because there’s a Tor.com story in there, which you can read in its entirety here); see for yourselves:

“Shoggoths in Bloom” - Elizabeth Bear

“The Rabbi’s Hobby” - Peter S. Beagle

“Running the Snake” - Kage Baker

“The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” - Daryl Gregory

“Reader’s Guide” - Lisa Goldstein

“The Salting and Canning of Benevolence D.” - Al Michaud

“Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake” - Naomi Novik

“A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica” - Catherynne M. Valente

“From the Clay of His Heart” - John Brown

“If Angels Fight” - Richard Bowes

“26 Monkeys and the Abyss” - Kij Johnson

“Philologos; or, A Murder in Bistrita” - Debra Doyle & James Macdonald

The Film-makers of Mars” - Geoff Ryman

“Childrun” - Marc Laidlaw

“Queen of the Sunlit Shore” - Liz Williams

“Lady Witherspoon’s Solution” - James Morrow

“Dearest Cecily” - Kristine Dikeman

“Ringing the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta” - Randy McCharles

“Caverns of Mystery” - Kage Baker

“Skin Deep” - Richard Parks

“King Pelles the Sure” - Peter S. Beagle

“A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead” - Richard Harland

“Avast, Abaft!” - Howard Waldrop

“Gift from a Spring” - Delia Sherman

“The First Editions” - James Stoddard

“The Olverung” - Stephen Woodworth

“Daltharee” - Jeffrey Ford

“The Forest” - Kim Wilkins


Pablo Defendini is the producer of Tor.com, a printmaker, a bookmaker, and a general rabble-rouser. He was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, one of the most SFnal places on Earth. He is secretly a Cylon.

23 comments
Janice in GA
4. Janice in GA
Agree. I wouldn't buy POD, but I'd totally buy an ebook.
Pablo Defendini
6. pablodefendini
The ebook is coming. Due to the particulars of our POD supplier's workflow, the e-edition takes a bit longer to process than the POD. But it's being worked on now.

That said, this isn't your daddy's POD. This is practically indistinguishable from a regular trade paperback edition. POD's come a long way.
Jonathan Baker
7. thanbo
So let me get this straight. A series (Year's Best SF/Fantasy) which has, for the past 14 years, been published as (currently) $8 mass market paperbacks, is now only available as a $16 POD. Which costs the consumer twice as much, and is more expensive to produce, and thus that much harder to sell (will it be on the New SF racks at Borders and B&N?) with perhaps a smaller profit margin. And no e-book versions (yet). And this is a good idea (for the editors/ authors/ consumers/ publisher) ... why?
Peter Ahlstrom
8. PeterAhlstrom
thanbo, presumably because Borders & B&N did not want to stock any copies of a mass-market edition of the book, presumably because the previous volume did not sell well enough in the chains' eyes. (I don't have the numbers but this answer makes sense considering recent book market conditions.) (And no, this edition wouldn't be on the shelves either. It's POD.)
Blue Tyson
9. BlueTyson
7

Actually, you are wrong about the format. The Year's Best Fantasy hasn't been a mass market paperback for several years now.

There have only been ebooks for the first five - not the 6, 7, 8 editions from small press Tachyon - who has never done an ebook or shown any indication of such as far as I am aware.

Given it was fairly obviously not selling well with a double publisher change - actually being electronically available and having a high profile booster like Tor.com might mean it can survive. The survive is the why.

Remains to be seen how the ebook is handled, of course. If it is handled the same as a few recent Tor books have been - same price as print, available in USA only,Or the even loopier ebook almost double the paperback crazypants Year's Best SF strategy from HarperCollins they will well deserve your criticism.
Janice in GA
10. MarcL
I received my contributor's copy of the POD today. It is a hefty 476 page trade paperback. I don't have any of the previous volumes to compare it with, but the introduction indicates it is larger than the previous volumes. I have a very tactile relationship with books, and hefting one in my hands is definitely part of the shopping/evaluation process; so I'm not sure how simply describing the book is going to convince people to shell out for something that does not exist as a physical object until they pay for it. That said, I am ever more accustomed to buying books sight unseen over Amazon these days. I'm as curious as anyone to see how this all works out.
Blue Tyson
11. BlueTyson
Volume 8 was under 400 pages, although with small type.
James Goetsch
12. Jedikalos
I don't understand why an ebook could not be somewhat cheaper--do the printing costs, including paper ink and machine not add anything to the overall cost? I am truly curious, because I prefer ebooks, but it has seemed strange to me that there are often no savings offered in this format. Wouldn't the profit balance out in ebooks, lower production costs offsetting the lower price, so that profit margin remained the same? Or not? You guys at TOR seem the ones to ask, the ones who would know:)
Marcus W
13. toryx
Depending on the final format of the ebook, I'd probably be pretty interested in buying that. I like the idea of POD, if it's done well. And anything that continues the publication of solid short stories on an annual basis has got my support.
Pablo Defendini
14. pablodefendini
Pricing for ebooks is not quite as cut-and-dried as "there's no physical object, so there's no costs associated with it". This came as quite a surprise to me as well, once I started looking at it from the inside of the process. Sarah Burningham and Bob Miller from HarperStudios have interesting takes on things from a publisher's perspective:
Sarah: I’m afraid that the publishing industry is at just about the point where the music industry found itself in 2004: insisting on an old pricing model, even as the rest of the world routed around them and created a new one. There’s nothing magical or eternal about the old economics of book publishing, any more than there was anything magical or eternal about horse-and-buggy transportation, or the telegraph. When a new model came along that the market decided was better, the new model won.

None of this is to say that the coming adjustment won’t be difficult or disruptive or painful....

Bob: I agree that e-books should be priced lower than physical books. But I don’t agree that being profitable at $27.99 translates to being profitable at $9.99. It only costs us about $2.50-$3.00 less for us to publish the e-book, not $18.00 less. The right price is certainly one that a consumer will pay, but we won’t have books for them to buy if authors and publishers can’t make any money. So we need to find the right pricing somewhere between the hardcover list price and the money-losing $9.99 that Amazon is teaching consumers to expect.

My wary opinion is that we're fully in the throes of that 'adjustment period' that Sarah refers to, where the costs of producing ebooks are still conflated with the costs of producing a book, period, regardless of media. Clearly, the publishing industry is in early days of this (rightly or wrongly is a conversation for another day).
Janice in GA
15. Snuph
I work in an independent SF bookstore and was disappointed to see that, unlike many other POD titles, this has no trade discount available from the major distributors. In other words, we can't stock it without virtually doubling the RRP, ie we won't stock it for fear of being seen as rip-off artists. I understand the trying new technologies schtick but it is seems strange to alienate a large chunk of the marketplace that still buys books from bricks and mortar. We've supported this great anthology series from the beginning and can't do so any more - what a shame!
Pablo Defendini
16. pablodefendini
@Snuph #15
We're actually working to correct that. Stay tuned.
Janice in GA
17. Snuph
Great to hear, I was hoping it was just a glitch :). I'll keep an eye on it and catalogue it as soon as we can stock it.
James Goetsch
18. Jedikalos
@pablodefendine: Thanks for the answer on ebook pricing and the link--it is very interesting to see this new marketplace being created from the beginning.
Blue Tyson
19. BlueTyson
Although of course the vast majority of books are paperbacks, and that is how most people think of buying books, for when they bring up the 'Oh Noes, my hardbacks, argument'.

If the cannibalisation crowd are right, then people only buy hardbacks because they are all that is available - not for the actual format. Which would mean they are medium to long term doomed anyway, wouldn't it? Plus that lots of the 'I love the smell of paper in the morning' crowd are lying.

Here's another quote for you, Eric Flint, from a week or so ago (talking about the Hachette type recently moaning about something like PD was quoting above) :-

"The most striking thing about the report -- ssuming it's true, which you always have to wonder with anything in Drudge -- is that it indicates that the chief executive of one of the world's largest publishing corporations is abysmally ignorant of the most basic facts concerning electronic publishing.. You can start with his belief that a $9.99 e-book is going to automatically drive down the price of a hardcover.

Gah. This is on a par with arguing that the world can't be round, because if it was the people living in China would fall off.

There is very little relationship between the prices of e-books and hardcovers. This, for several reasons:

The first and simplest is that for e-books to determine the prices of hardcovers would be a genuinely surreal instance of a tiny little tail wagging an enormous dog. The sales of e-books, whether measured in terms of units or money, is miniscule compared to the sale of hardcovers.

Secondly, they are two very different products, rather than being -- as he obviously believes -- essentially the same product with a minor packaging difference. What actual experience demonstrates is that the BIG market in e-books is complimentary to paper editions, not in place of them. What most people want is _both_ formats of the same title, because they use them for different purposes. "

--

Don't think I've seen any of these large publisher senior executives mention that last point. (that is, it would seem to a lot of us they are more interested in not selling and complaining than actually selling).
p l
20. p-l
What actual experience demonstrates is that the BIG market in e-books is complimentary to paper editions, not in place of them. What most people want is _both_ formats of the same title, because they use them for different purposes.

I've heard this from Cory Doctorow and from other commentators on publishing. Where does the data for this come from? I've never heard an actual reader claim to have bought both electronic and physical copies of the same book (unless the e-book was free, that is).

So I'm curious: is there anyone reading this thread who regularly buys electronic and paper editions of the same book? It seems like a waste of money to me, but I'm just one data point.
Blue Tyson
21. BlueTyson
Flint's data presumably is from his own publishing experiences. Webscriptions is 10 years old after all.

As to the other, I have electronic and paper editions of quite a few, so yes, for me.
p l
22. p-l
@21: Thanks. Out of curiosity, do you usually pay out of pocket for both editions, or do you get review copies?
Blue Tyson
23. BlueTyson
When I said paid, I meant paid.

Free stuff is something different - if I already had one, then no, I wouldn't be likely to buy it again, unless it is a rough early edition with problems.

I won a copy of a dead tree book here thanks to the generosity of Pablo Defendini, so I wouldn't buy that again, no. That one is a situation where they refuse to sell me the ebook, so couldn't buy it if I wanted to, and is a situation I probably would.

Same goes for James Enge's Blood of Ambrose - one of the very few buy without reading first decisions, because I have all his Morlock stories and knew it would be good enough because of those and a multi-chapter excerpt a Pyr. Won't currently sell me the ebook though.

For instance, another scenario, I pretty much never buy a paper novel without reading it first. No point, as most of them are only average or bland, and not worth wasting the space with. Books here cost twice as much, too. Then there's the trade paperback thing which means more like 3 times as much. Hardbacks, as you can imagine, are not of great interest to people here at $60.

But, if there's an electronic edition at a decent price, I may give it a shot. If I really like that, then maybe I get the paper version.

No travelling costs either, or postage. I live in a city of over a million people, but to get to a bookshop to buy anything new is at least half an hour's travel. So that's another few bucks, if the trip is purely to purchase a lump of paper. Generally never have anything I am interested in, anyway.

A few scenarios :-

Or sometimes the reverse. There's a few Dozois anthologies available (publishers too useless to do most of them - or with a recent couple, they again refuse to sell it to me). So I bought some of these. Likewise the Hartwell Hard SF Renaissance, which is a great book. You can't get The Ascent Of Wonder, or The Space Opera Renaissance, though. So eventually someone (or me) will scan these. Format shifting print is perfectly legal in Australia. Don't care who does it.

Night Shade is one of the best sellers of ebooks - so their Eclipse and Year's Best anthologies I picked up, despite having them in print - because they are good, a good price, and it saves me work scanning stories I like to put on my PDA. A why the hell not decision. Especially as DRM free, as again, this saves time having to deal with that bullshit, so is even more attractive. Same goes for Baen, or Subterranean, or Ereads, etc.

Supporting books I think are exceptional with multiple purchases is also a good thing.

An all sales lost scenario goes like this :-
Emma Bull's Territory (Tombstone fantasy, sounded cool) - came out as a hardback (never going to buy a hardback novel, ever). No ebook. Bull is a writer you are unlikely to find easily in Australian bookshops or libraries, one of those lower tier types that has to compete with the most popular/best from the UK, USA and Australia plus anywhere else on our shelves.

So, no sale, never seen, lost interest and 99.9% likely I never buy it or even read it, as don't give a crap anymore. Now a very large queue of material to get to first.

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