A month and a half since Baen made the jump to Amazon availability, the publisher is about to add another feather to its cap. On her forum on the Baen Bar, publisher Toni Weisskopf has mentioned that Baen e-books will soon be available DRM-free in Apple’s iBooks store. A formal announcement will be made when the exact timeframe has been nailed down. As with the current Amazon deal, EARCs and monthly discount bundles will continue to be exclusive to Baen.
The time since the program happened has seen some minor controversy erupt on the Baen Bar. After December 15th, and again after January 15th, a number of people complained on the Bar forums that they had never been informed that, unlike in preceding months, Baen’s e-book bundles were suddenly going to stop being available on the very same day the books in them were posted in their entirety.
It seemed quite a few folks were in the habit of waiting until the bundle was completely available before making their purchases—but since the bundles now had to go away as soon as the e-books were complete and could be sold individually on Amazon, they’d missed their chance to buy. It didn’t help matters that the e-book bundles were named for the month of publication of the print editions, which lag the e-book editions by 2 to 3 weeks—so the “January” bundle stopped being sold in mid-December, the “February” bundle stopped being sold in mid-January, and so on.
Baen did a pretty poor job in getting the word out for the longest time. For over a month after the deal took effect there was no notification posted to the Baen e-books site (or at least no obvious notification—a section of FAQ buried three clicks deep mentioned that the bundles were no longer going to be available, but didn’t say why) or Baen.com, and two mass-mailed newsletters were likewise sent out without any mention of the deal included.
It took until just a few days ago for an explanation to be posted to the front page of the e-book site (and for the monthly bundles to be retitled to make clear their cessation-of-sale dates). And Toni Weisskopf invites those who meant to buy the bundles but missed their chance to buy due to the lack of notification to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. (She doesn’t mention exactly what will be done for them, but hopefully they’ll be given a chance to pick up what they missed.)
A complaint to which I’m somewhat less sympathetic are all the people who are upset that Baen’s now raised its prices to $6.99 for mass-market paperback, $8.99 for trade paperback, and $9.99 for hardcover-equivalent e-books. It seems that just because Baen’s e-books were all $4 or $6 for the longest time, they had to continue that way into perpetuity. And likewise, $9.99 is an insanely high price for a single e-book. (Yeah, tell that to all the early Kindle adopters who shelled out $300+ just so they could buy scads of new bestsellers for $10 each instead of hardcover price, and voted with one-star reviews when prices went higher—or all the publishers who were so horrified at $10 prices for their new hardcovers that they implemented agency pricing and aggroed the Department of Justice.)
I’m just glad for all the stuff Baen’s going to get to continue doing. Selling its e-book bundles ahead of time for $18, which is now a better bargain than ever. Staying DRM-free no matter what store it sells through. Even restoring the Free Library, once it’s able to make enough “second edition” versions of free books available that it can afford to put up the “first editions” for free without costing itself sales. And if the increased Amazon sales (and iBooks sales, which will probably not be even 1/10 as much as Amazon’s volume but every little bit helps) and higher royalties to authors prove lucrative, Baen could be bigger than ever.