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Baen inks deal with Amazon, makes major changes to Webscriptions and Free Library

Posted By Chris Meadows On December 9, 2012 @ 11:22 pm In Amazon,Baen Books,Chris Meadows,ebook,Free ebooks | 33 Comments

Toni Weisskopf has posted a series of messages to the Baen Bar indicating major changes in the offing for the Baen Ebooks [1] (nee Webscriptions) store. Baen is finally on the verge of getting its titles placed directly into Amazon (and is negotiating with others such as Barnes & Noble, etc.) The problem is, that comes with pesky contractual obligations.

The changes amount to the following:

“Old” bundles containing books that have already been published will no longer be available for bundle-priced purchase. (Already-purchased ones should still be available for download, though it is possible some books may need to be removed. Some books may need to be removed from the Baen Free Library as well; Toni hopes to get advance notice when such removals are necessary, but recommends backing them up while you can.)

Future Webscription-style e-book bundles will be still be available for purchase as serialized pre-publications only until the official publication date, after which they become single-purchase-only titles (in order not to run afoul of that pesky contractual price-matching). Prices for backlist e-books will be going up, too; instead of $6, e-books of books whose print edition is currently hardcover will be $9.99, trade paperback $8.99, and mass market paperback $6.99.

E-ARCs—the $15 advance-peek advance reader copy e-books Baen offers—will be unaffected; since they will always be sold only through Baen itself and are no longer sold after the book’s official publication, there will be no need to change them.

Toni also writes it is unlikely there will be further Baen CD releases bound into hardcover books. “The CDs were in part to train people up to use ebooks. Mission accomplished, there.” Furthermore, the Fifth Imperium Baen CD archive [2] has removed the directly-browseable versions of the Baen CD files it used to offer, breaking many inbound links (including those from my Honor Harrington reviews here), though it continues (at the moment) to make the contents available as zipped and ISO files (though may remove those at some future time as well).

From Baen’s and the authors’ point of view, I can see how this is a desirable change. After all, many (arguably most) e-book buyers have Kindles or Nooks now, and the average consumer isn’t going to want to go to any extra trouble to buy an e-book he wants. Even going to Baen’s website to buy and email them to the Kindle might be too high of a barrier to entry compared to clicking “buy” on the Kindle.

(Yes, I know you’re probably an early e-book adopter and are puzzled by this assertion, given how easy you’ve always found it. Well, I spend five days a week helping ordinary people hook up their TVs and DVD players over the phone, and consequently I no longer harbor any illusions about how much ability the average person has to do something unfamiliar that is even the teensiest bit complicated.)

One other positive benefit of the change is that Baen authors are getting an e-book royalty bump:

You should also know we are increasing across the board by 25% the ebook royalty rates to the authors, so not only should they get the benefit of what we will really hope will be a significantly larger market, but a larger cut, too.

Thus, this could let Baen sell more e-books, at prices Kindle owners are accustomed to paying, and thus (especially with the addition of the 25% royalty bump) lead to additional royalties and more money for the authors.

On the bright side, Baen still doesn’t have any intention of switching to DRM, and the individual books will still be available DRM-free and multiformat through Baen’s own store for purchase even after they go up on Amazon. And the individual price for backlist titles that are in paperback won’t be going up by that much. It’ll be annoying for newer releases, though—especially ones you don’t find out about until they’re already published.

Some posters to the Baen forums are complaining the publisher has essentially done a deal with the devil and jumped the shark. However, others note that given inflation it was reasonable to expect e-book prices would have to go up sooner or later anyway. (Bundle prices have already risen from $10 to $15 to $18 since the program’s original inception over a decade ago.) And if they have to go up, they might as well do so in a way that will help the authors sell more copies and earn more royalties.

And let’s be honest: we always knew that Baen’s Webscription system couldn’t last forever the way it was. The books were sold so cheaply (or given away) for so long precisely because, prior to the Kindle, e-books were basically a non-starter except to the early adopter crowd. They served mostly to drive more sales of printed copies. Now that people want to buy e-books as their own things, it’s naïve to expect Baen to keep leaving money on the table that could go into the pockets of itself and its authors. As disappointed as we always are when prices of stuff go up, we should probably count our blessings for the extras Baen still is providing.

Meanwhile, better go ahead and buy up and download any bundles that have anything you might want while you still can, grab those Fifth Imperium ISOs, and back up everything.


33 Comments (Open | Close)

33 Comments To "Baen inks deal with Amazon, makes major changes to Webscriptions and Free Library"

#1 Comment By Frank Earl On December 10, 2012 @ 10:05 am

Considering that I don’t use either Nook or Kindle, but rather my Android tablet and phone, having the Kindle deal is an, “okay for you and the authors, not so hot for me,” type deal if I end up with a negative out of it. “Leaving money on the table” isn’t what you’re really doing here- there’s a magic threshold at which people won’t buy. You’re about to cross mine.

If you’re mainly on Amazon, you’ll find I’ll buy hardbound or not at all- which means I’ll just pretty much quit buying from you. If prices go up, like it seems they’re about to, I’ll quit as well. E-books don’t have the same overheads as paperbacks- they shouldn’t cost the same either.

These fiction stories, they’re a luxury. And in a tough time, like right now, if they mean the difference between a meal or not, well…

Don’t get me wrong here… I’m all for you making a profit. I’m also all for the authors making one (MZW’s being one of the ones I’ll far from begrudge that…). But, this isn’t as much of an expansion as you’re thinking it is. And, regarding your attributing your books being “too cheap” as part of the reason for the changes- that’s been part of your selling point of your product, winning quality AND price. I didn’t and haven’t bought Tor’s stuff- precisely because they were overpriced in that E-book space.

I buy e-books to have a decent sized library at a reasonable price that takes up little space.

You’ve made your decision and it won’t change…which is fine. Just understand that you risk losing quite a few customers by doing this. What you’re changing is part of what made you distinctive over everyone else. And…being with Amazon’s not that rosy thing you think it is.

#2 Comment By Maria (BearMountainBooks) On December 10, 2012 @ 10:44 am

Oh, the price going to 9.99 is too bad. I wouldn’t say I was accustomed to paying that in any way. I do buy mass market and that is typically my upper limit. After that, it’s library or I don’t get to read it.

Well, I’d best go over to Baen and see if the ones on my wishlist are still available for 6 dollars.

I do agree with you; having helped MANY people do a download and then USB a book to a kindle–most of them simply don’t want to bother. THAT said, I think the trend is actually starting to get some momentum. People are learning–and they are willing to go to a different site, be inconvenienced and do it–especially if there is a coupon or other savings. It catches on with some people and with some it never does.

Good article laying it all out. I’ll be sad to see the prices go up. Very sad indeed. But I’ll watch for sales and there’s always the print copies that are sometimes 4 for 3!

Maria

#3 Comment By Rob Preece On December 10, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

Business models based on giving away eBooks to drive sales of paper books are unsustainable. Many of us have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the Baen Free Library (thanks Eric) but it hasn’t been getting many new additions for a long time. I had a hard time talking myself into moving from direct to distribution (years ago) and obviously Baen had an even harder time but the reality is that most readers today buy their books from their device maker’s store which means direct from publisher sales are limited to fanboys rather than the general audience.

Rob Preece, Publisher

#4 Comment By Michael Z. Williamson On December 10, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

Actually, my titles in the Baen Free Library continue to earn excellent royalties, and the books remain in print and get reprinted. I believe most authors report this to be the case.

The Baen Free Library is remaining. The books in there will be slightly different editions than the Kindle editions, to avoid contractual conflicts.

You are correct on most readers managing to remain unaware of the BaenEBooks site. At least once a week I get a fan email asking why there aren’t Kindle editions, and have to direct people that way.

#5 Comment By Michael Z. Williamson On December 10, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

Frank, the Baen site is remaining, IIRC, and will support your android. I believe the price will have to match Amazon, because Amazon requires that. But I’d ask in the Bar for clarification.

#6 Comment By RockDaMan On December 10, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

I’m all for authors getting paid…so that they will be motivated to write more books!

#7 Comment By Leon Wolfeson On December 10, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

Rob, more “unsustainable” than only purchasing second hand paperbacks of your books?

Anyway; While I’ll keep buying from Baen unless or until they start removing paid books from my collection (which is a dead-end, never-ever-give-money-to-again-scenario), the primary tools I’ve used to draw people in – the wide free library and the CD’s – are gone.

I guess I have better things to do with my time, people can find their own Baen books via Amazon.

#8 Comment By Michael Z. Williamson On December 10, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

Leon: the Free Library is remaining. There will be some changes on its contents is all.

#9 Comment By Maria (BearMountainBooks) On December 10, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

@Frank,

Sadly ebooks don’t cost much less than print to produce. I’m not producing on the scale that Baen does, but the vast bulk of costs is editing, marketing, proofing, artwork–that far outstrips the cost of paper and printing, certainly early in a book’s life. Yes, lower-cost books are a boon, no doubt, but you have to not only sell a lot of them, you have to keep selling a lot of them to remain profitable. Sure, you can say once a book pays for itself, your profit margin is set–but one thing that I think a lot of readers don’t realize is that the profit on a book already out is PAYING for the next book to be written. If that income doesn’t keep coming in for the author AND the publisher, the next book isn’t possible–the author has to go get a different job and the publisher either has to find another writer or another job.

Like it or not, Amazon has the eyeballs right now. Ask any indie writer where she sells the most copies. Very few of them will say B&N. Yes, there are always one or two who find their niche elsewhere, but Amazon has a lot of eyeballs and convenient sourcing. Some of that is habit. Some of it is pricing–they can be aggressive with sales. Some of it is advertising–their “he bought/she bought” and the plethora of other books you see while “shopping around.” Wishlists help remind you of books you might otherwise forget…etc.

#10 Comment By Binko Barnes On December 10, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

It’s always a negative in the long run for the consumer when small and mid-sized businesses are subsumed by massive corporations.

Sure, Baen may just be publishing through Amazon now. But don’t be surprised if they get bought out by Amazon’s own publishing arm in a couple of years. They are already forced to change their business model and pricing so they can fit into Amazon’s world.

B&N can’t survive as an independent entity. Amazon can’t buy them because of anti-trust issues. So eventually they will be bought out by some other big media player, maybe Sony or Microsoft.

Eventually we’ll have just as few choices in the world of publishing as we now have for cable TV. A small handful of mega-corporations will control the whole process worldwide.

#11 Comment By Michael Z. Williamson On December 10, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

I don’t think Baen “Getting bought out by Amazon” is a realistic scenario. Baen is privately owned, and distributes through Simon and Schuster, so there’s already a “massive corporation” involved. Otherwise, the choice would be to not be in bookstores (which are also “massive corporations”).

Wider distribution of books is not a negative for a publisher. It is the goal.

Nor is Baen being “forced.” Baen has CHOSEN to fit this market, to sell more of those books. It’s one of the more successful publishers in SF as is.

This is merely a case of having to fit packaging to the outlet, which is already done, for example, in the size and shape of standard paperbacks and hardcovers, the shipping boxes they travel in, and the UPCs on the back.

Of course, I could go back to writing blog posts after tea, and taking paypal tips in return, but the fact is, I write a better story when I have a substantial check, based on expected sales, to pay my bills.

Of course, I encourage everyone who hates “massive corporations” to improve their lives by not using cars, computers, or mass produced clothes.

#12 Comment By Maria (BearMountainBooks) On December 10, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

Hmm. I could see Baen being bought, but I can see why they needed to make this change even if they don’t get bought. Interesting points.

#13 Comment By thorn On December 10, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

So. Any chance Baen will make their backlist available at some point, since we’re stepping back from the expectation that e will grow desire for print?

#14 Comment By Michael Z. Williamson On December 10, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

I would ask in Baen’s Bar. It would depend first on if rights have reverted to the author on stuff that’s out of print, then on if the authors were agreeable to electronic editions (if they were published before that was a contractual item)(And some of them refuse to do anything electronic because of “piracy”), and if Baen thought the investment was worth the return. I can’t answer those questions.

If you have a particular book in mind, ask there, and one of the staff will hopefully answer.

#15 Comment By Binko Barnes On December 10, 2012 @ 9:21 pm

It’s interesting, Michael, that you would mention Simon & Schuster. Did you know that they are owned by CBS? So they serve as another fine example of media consolidation.

You managed well to convey a sneering disdain for anybody who is worried about consolidation of control over media in the hands of a few “massive corporations”. But many people are very much troubled

#16 Comment By Michael Z. Williamson On December 10, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

Major corporations exist, and are not going anywhere. Accepting this fact is not “sneering disdain.” If they can sell more of my books, I benefit thereby.

I COULD make my own printing press and stamp pages, travel from store to store and try to sell the local dealer on buying a few copies. But the fact is, those major corporations enable me to sell thousands of copies, as far away as New Zealand.

Without S&S, Baen Books would not be available in stores, period. That is a fact of the industry.

I also have books with HarperCollins, owned by Murdoch.

Neither CBS nor S&S nor Amazon dictate the content of Baen Books (unlike WalMart, who has done so for some CDs and mass market books). They simply sell more copies and take a cut for doing so, but I make more money thereby.

Look around you. You are using a phone or computer, from a major corporation. You are probably driving a car. You are wearing clothes. You can choose to live like the Amish, or accept the modern world.

Certainly there are issues with corporations and political power, and I’ve written about them in fiction and fact. But to wail that “Baen is selling more books, those sellout bastards!” or “those poor saps!” is misplaced.

However, I would certainly applaud your efforts to only read books neither produced nor distributed by a “large corporation.” Good luck.

#17 Comment By Maria (BearMountainBooks) On December 10, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

First: Dear Binko, You’re welcome to buy my books. I promise I am not a large corporation. I’m not even a small one. But I do use Amazon and other small and large corps to distribute them…as well as my own site, so I’m participating in all of those things–any hint of anything that might help to sell more books.

Having recently (three or four years ago) taken up sewing, just be glad there are corporations supplying you with clothing. Because…I can’t even wear most of the stuff I sew. Unless you are a pillow or a window (curtains) most of my successful projects will not fit you. Or any other humanoid shape. I would fail as an Amish. My latest “t-shirt” is only going to fit someone who has an alarmingly long neck. But the material is very nice. Dang it.

#18 Comment By Sean On December 10, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

This is gonna be a general reply with several specific replies tossed in.
I’m having a love/hate/meh it is what it is, relationship with it. I love Baen. I’m not real thrilled with the price increase…but..then again..I’m less than thrilled with a lot of things going on the world. *shrug* I only buy a couple of the authors in the Baen stable on a regular basis anyway so the price increase while…very mildly disturbing, it’s always been a selling point, of the ebooks, I can live with it. Plus the authors are going to get a 25% increase in royalties out of it? I can live with that. So maybe they’ll not only write faster …maybe Baen [and simon and shuster hint freakin hint] can get them published faster. I know for a fact that John Ringo has 2 books in a brand new series written already and he’d been writing the 3rd which I think he’s also finished.
@Frank-Considering the price of HARDCOVERS…it ain’t THAT much of a make or break if you’ve been buying nothing but ebooks all along. Don’t like kindle *shrug* they used mobi format, if your reader can’t use it..you can always use calibre to convert it…which is what I’m going to have to do with a whole shitpot full of old ebooks because they were in RTF, and since MSReader is defunct[the boneheads] I switched to Kindle.

Rob…unsustainable? Do you know how many of us Baen readers got that way THROUGH being pointed at the free library? Hell how many of us buy not just the ebooks, but also the hardbound and massmarket as well? For that matter do you know how many FREE [to the people we're giving them to anyway] books Baen itself and it’s readers in general give away every year, thereby bringing more readers into the wonderful world of Baen books? The free ebook library inevitably leads to sales boyo. Unsustainable my ass. *snort*

@Binko-Baen get bought out by Amazon? LOLOL.. You tell the best jokes. I’d put the odds of that in one of 3 categories depending on where you want my response on the thoughtful/snark scale. The odds are thusly. Slim, infitessimal and non freakin existent.

#19 Comment By Felix Torres On December 11, 2012 @ 8:55 am

The story here is pretty simple.
ebooks are a disruption to the entire publishing industry. That means the good buys and the bad, the small publishers along with the BPHs.
We’ve all been discussing how publishers need to adapt to the changing world and find ways to deal with ebooks and self-publishing so they can stay in business.
Well, guys, like it or not, this is Baen adapting; they are going with mainstream ebook distribution channels just as they go through standard pbook distribution channels. And in both cases, that means mainstream pricing structures. Their pbooks run standard prices so why shouldn’t their ebooks?
They are keeping their site, keeping the monthly bundles but reverting to something closer to the original vision of a Webscription, and the single title prices are going from “decent” to “average”. Lets not forget, Baen has been at $6 for a long time so if they had raised prices to $6.99 without doing anything else nobody would have had a fit. And at $6.99 they are still sub-paperback, still DRM-free, still multiformat.
Hardly scandalous.
Those folks have over the last 17 years built up a lot of goodwill with their ebook policies and I for one see nothing offensive here. Sad to see the end of the beginning, yes, but I do understand ebooks are now a mainstream product in their own right, not a promotional or even experimental marketing tool and need to be priced as such.
And, while I know nothing about Baen’s ebook royalties (I do hope they’re better than Harlequin’s ;)) a 25% increase at least sounds like a good move to keep their authors with them instead of jumping to self-pub.
I’m happy they stayed with the old model as long as they did but if they say they need to do this to stay in business I’m willing to go along.
They’ve earned that much good will and respect.
At least as long as they keep SF “where it belongs, in the gutter”. :D

#20 Comment By Chuck Davis On December 11, 2012 @ 11:10 am

The real problems is that many of these books will now be available cheaper from Amazon in printed versions and if you have prime you will find its often cheaper to just get the book in 2 days in hard copy than buying a kindle edition.

The industry keeps claiming that the printing, warehousing and shipping of hard copies is insignifigant parts of the cost( and price ebooks as if it is), but common sense says that all that stuff is in reality a signifigant part of the cost, and ebook prices are intended to support those costs instead of reflecting the actual costs of the ebook, which is why you see many independent authors able to make good returns by selling books at 2.99 on Amazon, which includes the cost of editing and layout.

#21 Comment By Kay Shapero On December 11, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

The trouble with trying to join the mainstream in the hopes of more sales is that it’s easy to find you’ve simply lost your original market and not gained enough to make up for it. And while Amazon’s ebook prices still compare favorable to hardbacks, $10 comes pretty close to the price for paperbacks, which still have some major advantages to ebooks except for ease of storage. I wish them luck, but I think this is a mistake.

#22 Comment By Rob Preece On December 12, 2012 @ 1:02 am

I appreciate the feedback and thoughts. Like many of you, I’ve been a fan of the Baen Free library and have discovered an author or two through it. That does not mean that I think a model of free eBooks and selling paper is sustainable… because the world is going electronic. Today, about 50% of genre fiction is electronic. Next year, it’ll be more. Trying to make money giving away eBooks to sell paper is about as sensible as trying to make money giving away cars and hoping that’ll help you sell more horses.

I agree with Maria (and with Michael) that you’ve got to sell through big corporations. I (like Maria and Baen) sell directly but this has gone from the bulk of my business to a tiny fraction over the past five years. If you’re not at Amazon, you’re invisible to the bulk of the Kindle users… who make up the bulk of today’s eBook buyers. I do share the concerns of several that concentration of the distribution network has the potential to choke off small publishers and authors. So far, Amazon has been a huge help to small publishers and self-publishers.

Rob Preece, Publisher

#23 Comment By Maria (BearMountainBooks) On December 12, 2012 @ 9:14 am

@ Rob – Amazon has helped small publishers, but only because they also make money. It was Apple that pushed Author commissions to 70 percent, not Amazon. It should also be noted that Baen (and many other authors) sell through multiple larger retailers–B&N, Sony, Kobobooks, etc. I believe the article said Baen is working on other retailers. You have to be everywhere possible in order for eyeballs to see you.

Yes, it is true that once on Amazon people might buy the hardback or paperbacks. Where the sale comes from isn’t as important as GETTING the sale. Used books are another non-sale, but they are a reality.

Chuck, the bulk of the costs for me are editing and artwork. The reason indies can make any money at all is the fact that on some books we can get between 60 and 70 percent of the price (2.99 to 9.99). In the past, authors were lucky to be getting 30 cents for each mass market sold. On a paperback, I cannot sell a book for 7.99–That outstrips the actual cost of production.

I’m not saying printing and warehousing are not a part of the cost. And I do believe ebooks should be cheaper than their print counterpart (eventually). But when a book first comes out and is trying to get to break-even, the upfront costs to get to break-even are very high WITHOUT warehousing and print costs. So I wouldn’t expect the ebooks to be significantly cheaper until the book earns out.

When an author goes through Baen, they might earn more on an ebook as the industry has leaned towards paying 25 percent of the book price. But even with that, don’t worry. None of us are getting rich.

Kay, I’m not Baen so shouldn’t speak for them, but I’m good at massive speculation. I don’t think Baen would be doing this if their current model was bringing in enough readers. If the model was working and growing, they’d probably stick with it. But with all the freebies out there and people moving to shopping at Amazon and online at B&N, Kobobooks, etc…you have to be where the people are.

I would love to sell only through my own site, but the reality is that people forget where they bought a book. Catching and keeping their attention is very difficult and as a numbers game, it can be detrimental to sales.

#24 Comment By Maria (BearMountainBooks) On December 12, 2012 @ 9:17 am

The other thing that Amazon might be able to bring to the table ebook-wise if authors agree, is instant distribution to several countries. THAT’S an entirely new audience for some authors. It’s much harder to get a print deal even if an author is already with Baen. I don’t know if they are working on this, but I know one of the big boons for me was being able to sell world-wide. Baen has wonderful, wonderful authors–and not all of them have been able to sell into that audience. Ebooks makes that possible.

#25 Comment By Alan On December 12, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

So the prices are going up either 67%, 50% or 17% because Baen wants to increase sales? I could see the 17% and would support it only if Baen the company really needed the money but I will not be paying $10 for an ebook. The only thing stopping me putting a “+torrent” at the end of a book search is that six bucks feels fair to me for the cost of a DRM-free ebook. Please take a look in an economic book for ‘price elasticity’.

#26 Comment By Maria (BearMountainBooks) On December 12, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

Did you just say you’d steal a book because you thought it cost too much?

That aside, if I read the article correctly, only new releases will be 9.99 and when a book is at the “mass market” paperback stage, it will be 7.99, which is pretty much industry standard and one can assume pays Amazon for carrying it, along with the authors and publisher.

“Fair” and “can make it work with the bottom line” don’t always agree. Which is why companies close their doors and go out of business.

#27 Comment By Kay Shapero On December 12, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

Maria (BearMountainBooks) – I’m quite aware this is likely to be a case of Baen attempting to stay afloat in increasingly stormy waters. I’m mostly worried about them either going out of business or no longer publishing the books I like because of having to deal with a “wider market” which usually means “getting bland”. I’ve seen this happen before in other venues, and I don’t want to see it happen now. Granted it would have to get past both Toni and Eric… but I’m concerned all the same.

#28 Comment By Chris Meadows On December 12, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

Alan: Perhaps you should take a look in an economics textbook for the definition of “inflation”. This isn’t the first price increase to hit Baen books, after all. The bundles started out as $10, then went to $15, and then $18. They’ve had to adjust to the times.

Also, for the vast majority of Baen e-books—the ones that are in paperback already—the price change is minimal. They jump by 99 cents, that’s all. The only more expensive e-books are those for the newest publications. Even then, not only are they less than the hardcover price, they’re also less than the $12 and up that the Agency Five (then Six) insisted on charging for the e-books of most of their hardcover releases. They’re at that $9.99 price point that Amazon Kindle buyers clamored for, and got upset when the Agency publishers took away from them.

Remember that economics is about maximizing revenue. Are enough people willing to buy at $10 to make up for the decreased numbers of people who would have bought at $6? It kind of depends—especially since most of the target audience Baen is trying to reach might not even be aware they even used to be $6.

I think a lot of e-book early adopters may underestimate the significance of what Amazon has done—or maybe not want Amazon to have significance. (See also, [3].) Amazon has built a huge critical mass of e-book buyers by making it possible to buy an e-book from wherever you are (or even just wherever you are with wi-fi) with just a few taps on the screen.

The downside is, to many Kindle users if you can’t get it with just a few taps on the screen, it doesn’t exist. You think they want to go home, buy, download, sideload? Or even buy and go through the rigamarole of entering their email address in a form to get it sent? They’ve got better things to do with their time, and a zillion other e-books they could be reading. Baen has built a devoted audience, true, but let’s be honest here—compared to the pool of potential Kindle buyers who don’t know Baen from what Jack planted to kill the giant, it’s pretty tiny. If even 1% of Kindle users bought Baen e-books through their Kindles, that might represent a huge boost in revenue.

Whether we like it or not, e-books’ childhood is ending and they’re coming into their own. They’re not paper-book-promoting tzotzkes anymore, they’re what people buy instead of paper books. We can’t make out like bandits on the largess of publishers who are more interested in selling printed books anymore. If you were paying attention, you had to know this was coming sooner or later.

Frankly, I think Baen is being a lot more accommodating to fans and readers than it really has to be. It could stop the monthly bundles and EARCs entirely and just go to a standard book/e-book release schedule like the Big Six. (And who knows; it’s possible that it still might.) So I’m just going to count my blessings, thanks. Baen hasn’t really jumped the shark just yet.

#29 Comment By Brian On December 12, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

Kay they’ve always dealt with that wider market. Their print books have always been available to that wider market, I don’t see making the digital versions available to the same market as their print books changing anything.

I see people asking for various Baen books on the Amazon and B&N forums all the time. These folks want the ease of buying them from the same place they buy all of their other books.

#30 Comment By Leon Wolfeson On December 13, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

Michael: Yes, I’m aware it’s changing, but the amount of books in there has plummeted, to put it mildly.

At the end of the day, Baen’s previous stance appealed to me and I was a pretty big evangelist and bought a lot of eARC’s. Now I’ll just wait until I see a price I like, and frankly associating with Amazon and their tax dodging isn’t exactly a bonus point from my UK perspective.

(It’s not in the same class as certain authors who have been personally rude to me, in several cases *because* I supported Baen’s model (hi Scalzi!), and who I only now buy second hand, but I *am* disappointed)

#31 Comment By Jon On December 13, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

Like some others here, I have used the Free Library extensively, and have purchased books from Baen’s site, as well as buying many many paperbacks and hardbacks published by Baen over the years. I’ll definitely need to see if I can get out there and fulfill my wish list before the changes take place and the prices jump up. It was always easier to take a flyer on a new author for $6 than paying top dollar on B&N for a Nook book before. When the price goes up to $9.99, i guess I’ll have to wait and see if my local library ever purchases Baen’s new publications.

#32 Comment By Endril On November 3, 2013 @ 11:59 am

Well, I’ll talk about the regular eBooks, not the freebies (in the current state of the market, giving away too much free stuff is not such a good idea).
Talking about the regular eBooks, it’s maybe OK if you are an US citizen (or any other country that has an Amazon domain – UK, FR or whatever), but not for the rest of the world that’s forced to buy from Amazon.com.
As far as I know, there is a surcharge for us international buyers (I think it’s around 2-3 dollars for my country), that’s supposedly used for covering the 3G costs (the fact that I only own the WiFi version of Kindle doesn’t makes a difference, I get surcharged anyway).
Baen was a very good alternative, one of the those places where I could lower my costs. So, switching from Baen to Amazon will hit me hard enough to buy less Baen Books – I’ll end up spending the same amount, but for fewer books. And guess who’ll win the most? Not me, not Baen, but Amazon…

#33 Comment By Chris Meadows On November 3, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

It’s not a question of switching to Amazon. Baen continues to sell its e-books itself, at the same price as Amazon, and DRM-free, with no international surcharges. So you can keep buying from Baen if you want to.

The change was about reaching all the millions of people who’ve never heard of Baen’s e-book store, but were using Amazon and complaining they couldn’t buy Baen versions of their books direct from Amazon. It was the difference between advertising in a shopfront to passers-by and selling out of a back-room to just those who were “in the know.”


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URLs in this post:

[1] Baen Ebooks: http://baenebooks.com

[2] Fifth Imperium Baen CD archive: http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

[3] : http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ItsPopularNowItSucks

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