At my blog, Auxiliary Memory, I’ve been adding Amazon Affiliate links to all the various lists of science fiction books I’ve created. This tedious activity is quite informative. The most obvious trend I spotted, is we’re moving away from mass market paperbacks. They still exist, but far fewer in number. How many people are buying them? Even more surprising is how often I see a mass market paperback cheaper than the Kindle edition. A common price is $7.99 for the ebook, and $7.19 for the mass market paperback. And if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, the price of shipping is built into the paper price. Are they encouraging people to keep buying paperbacks? Or, are ebook prices fixed, and Amazon is discounting the paper?
On the other hand, many classic science fiction novels are only available in Kindle editions, or Kindle and Audible editions, so the only choice is digital. And the prices for Kindle ebook editions are all over the map. Currently, you can get many of Greg Egan’s great novels from the 1990s for $2.99 each. But other books from that era go for $7.99, $9.99, $11.99 or even $13.99. I can’t believe they price older ebooks equal to cheaper trade paperback editions. But then, the prices for trade paperbacks are moving closer to what hardbacks were not many years ago, and the prices of hardbacks are soaring.
I found it quite disturbing how many books are only available in digital. My all-time favorite science fiction novel, Have Space Suit-Will Travel can only be bought in an ebook or audio editions. The Kindle is $6.99. Several of Heinlein’s books are only available in these formats. Does that mean fewer people are reading Heinlein? Or, do his fans prefer digital editions? I can understand the flood of forgotten novels from decades past having only Kindle editions. I doubt there are enough buyers to make a print edition break even. And ebooks have been wonderful for bringing back classic SF long out of print. Recently most of Clifford Simak’s novels and short stories showed up in new digital editions.
I tend to think pricing for ebooks is related to the fame of the book or author. Dune, a classic from the 1960s, goes for $9.99. The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson, from the 1990s goes for $11.99. In the old days, age meant cheap paper editions. I remember buying pocket books costing 35 cents off of twirling wire racks when I was a kid. It’s hard to imagine children plunking down $10 for a Sci-Fi wonder today.
Since I’m adding Amazon Affiliate links I have to decide which is the edition people will most likely want. For the most part, I’ve settle on Kindle editions because they are often cheaper compared to trade paper editions, the common print format. If you consume science fiction versus collecting it, going digital is more thrifty. Digital also seems science fictional too, but I do know that many people still prefer to read off of paper. And I have to wonder how many people prefer spending $14.95 for a trade edition over $7.99 to read a Kindle edition?
Since I’m adding links to the Classics of Science Fiction list, I’m assuming most people are going through the list reading the classics, and not collecting. I’ve been building my own digital library of the Classics of Science Fiction list on the cheap. The Kindle Daily Deals, BookBub, Early Bird Books and LitFlash all send me daily reminders of ebook specials. I’ve bought dozens of books from the Classics of Science Fiction list for $1.99 each. I’m still kicking myself for not buying Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick and Blood Music by Greg Bear from yesterday’s deals. I saw the emails and thought, “I’ll do that in a minute,” and then forget. Damn. Today they are $6.15 and $7.99. Jack Faust has no paper edition, and Blood Music is $13.99 for the trade paper. Although you can get a used hardback copy for $0.01 and $3.99 shipping.
Most of my science fiction collection is digital now, either Kindle or Audible. I only buy paper if it’s much cheaper, the only available format, or I can’t get it from the library. In this regard, I know I’m atypical. I think most science fiction fans prefer to build large collections of visible books. Yet, is that practical with the rising cost of printed books?
I’ve committed to digital. All my Kindle and Audible books are available on my iPhone, which goes with me everywhere. That’s rather futuristic, because I’m carrying around a couple thousand books in my pocket. In the past, when I moved and loaded 2,000+ books in boxes into a truck, it was a huge pain in the lower back. It’s hard to believe I now carry that many books with me everywhere I go.
The 2016 Arthur C. Clark Award has been announced:
- Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)
- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)
- Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
- The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor (Hodder & Stoughton)
- Arcadia by Iain Pears (Faber & Faber)
- Way Down Dark by J.P. Smythe (Hodder & Stoughton)
Our congrats to Adrian Tchaikovsky and all the finalists.
- The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
- Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
- The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (Roc)
- Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Our congrats to N. K. Jemisin and all the finalists. You can see the complete list of winners in all categories over at Locus. With this award win Jemisin has been added to our ever-growing list of Award Winning Books by Women Authors again.
- Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman (The Permanent Press)
- The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (Orbit/Knopf)
- Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson (Rebellion)
- Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald (Gollancz/Tor)
- Galapagos Regained by James Morrow (St. Martin’s)
- Going Dark by Linda Nagata (Mythic Island/Saga)
- The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
- Where by Kit Reed (Tor)
- The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
- Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
- Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow/Harper Collins)
Our congrats to Eleanor and all the finalists. With this award win Lerman has been added to our ever-growing list of Award Winning Books by Women Authors.
Arrival is based on Ted Chiang’s novella Story of Your Life and it looks pretty damn good to me. Finally an original SF movie that’s from a big name author rather than a franchise retread. This is what we always talk about wanting when yet another Star Wars movie or unfortunate remake of an old classic like The Day the Earth Stood Still fails to impress. I hope it’s good. What do you think?
The 2016 Aurora Awards winners have been announced, celebrating the “best works and activities done by Canadians in 2015.”
- A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica (Tor)
- Drowning in Amber by E.C. Bell (Tyche)
- Too Far Gone by Chadwick Ginther (Ravenstone)
- Much Ado about Macbeth by Randy McCharles (Tyche)
- Cursed: Black Swan by Ryan T. McFadden (Dragon Moon)
- Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Solaris)
Locus has the full list of winners in all categories.
Our congrats to A. M. Dellamonica and all the finalists! With this award win Dellamonica has been added to our ever-growing list of Award Winning Books by Women Authors.
I liked Taraji P. Henson in Person of Interest and she seems eminently likable here as well. I hope they do the story — and the real life ladies — justice. It looks maybe a little too light and I don’t care for the title but perhaps we’ll get a better feel when the next trailer comes out. Of course, I’m a sucker for anything NASA and this is a part of NASA I don’t know about so I’m in. What do you think?
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
- The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Little, Brown)
- The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf)
- A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston (Disney/Hyperion)
- Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine)
Our congrats to Naomi Novik and all the finalists. You can see the complete list of winners in all categories in the official press release.
This is the third win from 6 nominations for Novik and Uprooted which already took home the Nebula and Locus Fantasy awards and is still in the hunt for the Hugo, Holdstock, and World Fantasy awards. Impressive.