Tor/Forge Books to Go DRM-free!

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This one slipped by me when it was first announced, almost a month ago. Tor Books, my publisher, has announced that all of their ebooks will be going DRM-free. (DRM is the digital right management—or copy protection—that on most books from major publishers locks purchased books to a single type of reading device.) Here’s the announcement in part:

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.”

This is great news for ebook readers everywhere, whether they use Kindles, Nooks, iPads, Androids, Sony Readers, or anything else. Baen Books has for years been the only big SF publisher that has eschewed DRM, and it has served them and their readers well. Tor’s move may represent a break from the practice of the parent company, Macmillan U.S.; it may also be the first crack in the wall of the Big Six publishers, whose ebook publishing practices have been fairly anti-consumer for some time now. Instead of treating their customers as criminals who can’t be trusted with the books they’ve paid for, Tor/Forge will now be treating them as, well, valued customers.

No word yet on whether this signals a change in Macmillan’s policy of not selling ebooks to libraries, or whether customers who previously purchased DRM-restricted Tor/Forge books will be able to replace them with DRM-free editions.

My own policy has always been, if you’ve bought one of my books with DRM and it’s causing you any problems in reading it on the device of your choice, just let me know. I’ll personally replace it with a DRM-free copy.

“Of No Return”

My first professional sale came in 1974, a short story called “Of No Return,” about a man who works in a sea-floor power station experiencing difficulty in readapting to life on land. It was published In Fiction, a small magazine published at the time in Boston, and was later reprinted in a very small, limited edition anthology called Wet Visions. Aside from that, it’s been out of print—not even available on my web site. That’s changed, as of today.

Credit Gretchen, the high school student who has been working as an intern for me these last two weeks. She retyped the story, proofed it, created the cover and the ebook, and got it uploaded to all the usual suspect places. Here’s what it looks like. It’s free at Smashwords, for now, and $.99 at Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook.

By this time next week, we should be well along in creating a complete short story collection, for eventual ebook (and who knows, maybe paper) publication. 

Available at Smashwords | Kindle | Nook

“Love Rogo” Back in Print, Electronically Speaking

My fourth short story, “Love Rogo,” is about a lovable doglike creature from Betelgeuse who is a little too lovable for his owners’ own good. It came out in 1977 in the anthology, Futurelove: a Science Fiction Triad, edited by Roger Elwood and published in hardcover by Bobbs-Merrill. There was no paperback edition, although the Science Fiction Book Club published their own low-cost hardcover. The other two authors in the book were Anne McCaffrey and Joan Hunter Holly; plus, there was an introduction by Gordon Dickson. It sobers me to note that I’m the only one still walking the Earth of that group of estimable people. Yow. God willing, I’ll keep the fires going here a while longer.

Getting this story back into circulation has been on my “to do” list for some time now, along with a handful of others. The common theme has been no digital file, which meant either retyping or scanning the stories in, something I just never got around to doing. About a year ago, my faithful reader Anne King sent me a digital copy of “Love Rogo,” in a gentle effort to jump-start the process. I still didn’t get around to it.

What changed is that I now have, for a few short weeks, the help of a smart young woman named Gretchen, a high-school student who is working for me as a publishing intern. The first task I gave her was getting “Love Rogo” finished and up as an ebook. She did that last week. She also designed the cover, modeled on the simple design of my other short story covers. (After a few days, I decided the cover wasn’t quite right, and we worked together to change the colors and type.)

“Love Rogo” is now available free at Smashwords for the month of May, and for $.99 in the Kindle and Nook stores.

Smashwords (all formats) | Kindle | Nook

Africa-themed Fantasy

Mary C. Aldridge is a writer you may not know, even though she was a Nebula finalist for one story, a Cauldron Award winner for another, and a winner of a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fiction Fellowship for still another. The thing is, she hasn’t written nearly enough stories. A while back, I noted that she’d put some of her stories up for sale at Amazon and elsewhere. Now she’s gathered them into a collection that you can buy for a skinny $2.99 — a steal at the price.

If you like fantasy and African folklore, or just want to try something a little different, this could be just what you’re looking for.

Pick it up at Kindle / Nook / Smashwords (all formats)

New Richard Bowker Novel!

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Some years ago, novelist Richard Bowker was developing a reputation around the edges of the SF/paranormal/thriller/mystery world as a writer with a nifty gift for characterization, story, and style, and a certain uncategorizability. It was that last trait that tended to get him into trouble, as his publishers didn’t always know where to place his books. Was his post-nuclear-war Boston private-eye novel SF, or was it mystery, or eccentric mainstream? For the readers plunging into the stories, it was great. But for the publishers and marketers, it was a challenge they did not always rise to.

Following Senator, Bowker disappeared for a number of years. (Well, he didn’t really, but in book terms he did.) Now he’s back, not just reissuing his backlist in ebook (a fine thing in itself), but publishing new work as well. You could do a lot worse than to check out Pontiff, just released in Kindle and Nook-format ebooks—a novel of religion, murder, and miracles from the author of Senator and Replica. [more

Pontiff on Kindle / Pontiff on Nook

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: It’s DRM-free, so if you want to read it on another device–say, a Sony Reader, or in Aldiko on an Android–you should be fine buying the Nook version.

Read an Ebook Week 2012

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It’s time again for Read an Ebook Week. Lots of publishers and authors are participating, and you can find some great deals. In fact, in Canada, it’s Read an Ebook Month. Check the REBW website!

As usual, I’m offering some specials: Eternity’s End and Dragon Space: A Star Rigger Omnibus are half price at Smashwords from March 4 through March 13. Just apply the coupon code REW50 at checkout for the discount. Neptune Crossing remains free, in all stores.

Remember, when you buy a book at Smashwords, you get access to all formats: Kindle, Nook all other Epub readers, PDF, etc., without any of those annoying DRM restrictions on where you can read your book.

If you haven’t tried ebooks yet, or if you have a shiny new device and need to load it up with books, Read an Ebook Week is a great place to start!

Dragon Space Gets a New Face

The indie-pub gurus all say that the cover of an ebook can make or break sales. I don’t know if they’re right or not, but I’m putting it to the test. Since I released Dragon Space: A Star Rigger Omnibus in mid-2011, sales have been slow. (Except during my holiday sale, when I dropped the price from $6.99 to $.99 for a week. That goosed things, but I couldn’t keep it at that price forever.) Dragon Space is a boxed set, or omnibus ebook, of two of my Star Rigger novels, Dragons in the Stars and Dragon Rigger. It includes the beautiful map of the dragon-realm-in-interstellar-space drawn for the original Tor paper edition of Dragon Rigger by Elissa Mitchell.

Now, I really liked the first cover I used; I worked closely with designer Pat Ryan (who is also writer Pat Ryan, and who has since stopped designing covers in order to focus on her writing). She gave me just what I asked for. Here’s the original cover:

But apparently it wasn’t what the public asked for. So here’s a new look, designed by Amanda Kelsey of Razzle Dazzle Design:

What do you think? Is it more of an eye-catcher? 

By the way, if you already own Dragon Space and wish you had it with this new cover, feel free to save the image from here and swap it into the book with Calibre or another free program. Or, drop me a note and I’ll send you the updated book file. Or, you may be able to download it again from wherever you bought it.

Conversely, the same applies if you’re just buying the book now, but wish you had it with the earlier cover.


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No, I’m not holding a summit, or attending one. But that’s the name of a novel by Richard Bowker, just released in ebook by the author himself. It’s well worth a look, if you enjoy psychological thrillers with believable characters and crisp, vivid writing. Summit was originally published by Bantam in 1989, and is now available again for the first time in many years.

If we’re going to be forthcoming here, I suppose I should fess up that I was one of the critique group readers who can claim all sorts of credit (riiiiight…) for the quality of the novel. Seriously, though, Richard Bowker has been part of the writing group I’m in for over thirty years, and we got to experience the book’s gestation and birth, and even contribute a little in the way of helpful criticism. Here’s the description from the Amazon page:

She is the most dangerous person in the world — a powerful psychic used to turn loyal American operatives into KGB double agents. Beautiful Valentina, however, has one weakness — her infatuation with Daniel Fulton, the brilliant, enigmatic American pianist. Valentina hopes her love for Fulton will free her from the KGB. Instead, it traps her into using her powers one final time. Success will change the course of history. Failure will doom the only person she loves. One woman controls the fate of America… at the Summit.

You can’t tell from the product pages, but according to Rich, they’re DRM-free.

Free Thrillers and Beautiful Bookstores

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Interesting links spanning the whole book world have come across my desk in the last twenty-four hours. 

Free ebooks!
Five popular mystery/thriller writers are giving away books like popcorn today and tomorrow (through Feb. 2). J.A. Konrath, Blake Crouch, J. Carson Black, Lee Goldberg, and Scott Nicholson have joined forces to give away a big selection of their ebooks, plus ten Kindle Fires and a bunch of gift cars. Oh, and a generous library donation! If you like thrillers or know someone who does, check out the details and click free links at Big Kindle Boogie.

What’s the (book) world coming to?
The Authors Guild weighs in on some recent history of the publishing and book retail world. Is Amazon the innovator or the anti-Christ?* Is Barnes and Noble our last, best hope against crushing monopoly? Join the fray, or just read about it, at the Authors Guild blog

*For what it’s worth, I think Amazon is a little of both. 

World’s most beautiful bookstores
Let’s not forget physical books. Take a tour of twenty of the most glorious physical bookstores in the world! You could walk these aisles for days!

Happy 2012!

It’s not quite midnight here in California, where Allysen and I are visiting her brother and family, but we jointly decided to call it New Year at 9:00, when we knew the ball had dropped in Times Square. (Well, call it faith; we didn’t actually check online to see if midnight had come to the Eastern time zone, but I’m pretty sure it did.) We’re having a very nice visit, except that I’m fighting off a cold or something, and hoping I don’t give it to anyone else.  We went to see TinTin today, and thoroughly enjoyed it in 3D, after an aborted effort to see it in Imax 3D. (The volume was earsplitting, and the theater people said they couldn’t turn it down. We weren’t the only ones asking for refunds on the Imax tickets.) Anyway, in regular 3D, and regular volume, it was a fun movie, even if it went on a little too long in the action sequences. 

Two of my good friends are taking the ebook plunge, and I thought this would be a good time to introduce them. First off is Richard Bowker, author of a bunch of novels ranging from straight SF (Forbidden Santuary) to supernatural fantasy (Marlborough Street) to techno-thriller (Replica) to SF-mystery (Dover Beach) to straight-up political mystery (Summit and Senator). He’s been out of print for a while, and has just created a website and blog at, where he’ll post updates on the progress of converting and self-epublishing his previously published novels. Stop by and check on his progress. When his books go up for sale, I highly recommend them. 

Mary C. Aldridge works a completely different vein: African-folklore-inspired fantasy short stories. One of her stories was a Nebula finalist (“The Adinkra Cloth”), and one won her a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fiction Fellowship (“The Work Leader”). She has five short stories up at, and I hope they’ll also appear in the Kindle and Nook stores soon. (But you can buy the needed formats for both the Kindle [.mobi] and Nook [.epub] right now.)  Mary has a remarkable talent that has been expressed too infrequently. Why not give them a look?

And in the meantime…Happy New Year!

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