image In a recent post on her blog, author Lynn Abbey goes into her own reaction regarding the Amazon/Macmillan feud—and it is somewhat different from Scalzi’s take. She talks about how print publishers these days do business knowing that 80% of their print runs will not sell, and publishers are more interested in delaying e-books than supporting them.

When the Amazon/Macmillan feud hit, she says:

I already had my breach-of-contract letter written, because it’s not like either Amazon or traditional publishing has my interests at heart, either as a reader or an author.  They may well be willing to go to war with each other (and I read Amazon’s capitulation letter as a clear indication that they plan to fight another day on a field of their choosing), but they share a common perspective: books are bowls of spaghetti, readers are sheep to be herded and fleeced; and authors are wells to be pumped dry.

So Abbey and fellow writers C.J. Cherryh and Jane Fancher are getting together to create their own e-book storefront called Closed Circle. They will sell e-books at reasonable prices in a variety of DRM-free formats. They also have some free samples available.

The products page notes:

You have a choice: if you have fast download and/or want all 11 file formats, from which you can pick those that serve your favorite e-book-reading gizmos, choose “FULL”. That’s a zipfile of (usually) about 3-5 MB with .epub, .fb2, .lit, .lrf, mobi/generic (.prc), .pdb, .pdf, .pmlz, .rb, .rtf, .txt. If you’re concerned about space/download time, choose “MINI”, which gives you a roughly 1.5 to 2 megabyte file with mobi/generic (.prc), .epub and .pdf only. (Calibre can convert any of those 3 into all the other formats.)

However, the store will be following the “iTunes” model of downloads: you have a limited amount of time to download it, and once you have you’d better keep it as safe as you would a “real” book because after 24 hours you won’t be able to download it again.

I much prefer the Baen and Fictionwise model where once you have bought an e-book, it is yours to re-download forever. Nonetheless, apart from that, the store seems to offer some good bargains, such as Heavy Time and Hellburner by C.J. Cherryh for $5 each.

Kudos to Lynn Abbey et al for offering a new, reasonable e-book alternative!


  1. Good for them!

    Given they are selling DRM-free, I have no problem with not being able to re-download later. (It would be lagniappe, but they’re obviously a small operation and I don’t expect them to have to worry about that).

  2. I am also a great fan of Fictionwise. I don’t buy the argument that e-books must cost as much as paper books because of the editing and marketing efforts provided by the publisher. I can hire an editor, publish on the platforms (yes plural) of my choice and do my own marketing. Even if I don’t sell as many books, I’m taking home more of each sale.

    As the “grassroots market” grows, it generates more opportunities for all of us.

  3. Great idea and I will definitely buy a book.
    But this website needs a heavy reconstruction, no access to the store beside from the main page, a short synopsis of every book would be great as some (including me) haven’t read anything from the authors, etc.
    It’s doesn’t need to look Amazon-like, but neither as the page was created in the 90′ with funky colours and lots of pics.

    But I have saved the link! I like the idea to buy directly from the author and even get a DRM free book, with which I don’t need to worry in case I change my reader device.

  4. I have no problem with their support model; they make it very clear they are selling you the files with no redownload rights. That is a very common model for online software sales. Computer-literate users know how to deal with this business model.
    Good for them.

    Of note:
    Barbara Hambly is running similar effort as an experiment.
    And, if there ever was an author with cause to self-publish it would be her as she has been singularly ill-served by the traditional system.

  5. Thanks for the kind words and support.

    A brief correction, though — our links may expire after 24 hours, but our service will never expire…well, not until we do.

    If you have problems downloading a Closed Circle book, email us at and we’ll get you a functioning file. And if, in the future, the “whizbang format (.wzb) shoulders all other formats out of the way, we’ll add .wzb to our format menu and make .wzb formatted files available as free upgrades available to previous purchasers. (What you really have to record is the email address you used when you purchased.)

    As for our site…well, we’re writers, not web-designers. When faced with the choice between prepping prose for sale and working on site mechanics/appearance, prose wins. (Such are the true joys of self-publishing…)

    Thanks again for the kind words…and please check back every so often to see what we’ve added to the virtual shelves

  6. Thanks, Chris, for putting up this link, and thanks to those of you who alerted us to this site. It’s great.

    As for Closed Circle: We’re trying. 😀

    In response to a couple of the comments:

    You’re correct. We have the limited time download for (a) security reasons and (b) limited options of our digital download software. However, we do have a record of all sales and should something go wrong, we’ll work with you. We’re just encouraging people to get those backups made because every time we have to deal with a problem, that’s time away from writing.

    We’re doing DRM free so you can copy as needed and manipulate the files to your needs. Not all our formats are perfect, but we’re working on making them so. We take pride not only in our writing, but in how it is presented. None of us own dedicated readers, so we depend on feedback from those who are buying to know how to better the product.

    Again, we’re learning as we go along.

    As for the site….Ummm….er…there’s access to the store from every page. Obviously, that’s not, er, obvious. I’ll see about an additional STORE link. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Beyond that, the CC website will undergo reconstruction as time passes. I put it together in just a couple of weeks this last November and it’s just the initial framework. We’re going to get individual pages up for each book, etc, but we’re having to figure out how to do it as we go along. It’s one reason we haven’t advertised, because it’s not really how we want it yet.

    Obviously, the word is getting out, so we’d better start on those individual pages, yes? Meantime, each series has its own little page under the author’s tab.

    Please bear with us. We welcome constructive criticism on the site and our products. Our emails are available on the site. Just remember, we’re writers, first, and pretty battered ones at that. New York has not been kind to any of her midlist authors for the last twenty years. E-books are at once a last ditch effort and a hope for the future for a lot of us.

    Thanks to folks like you, that future looks brighter every day.

  7. I just purchased a book at Closed Circle yesterday and am looking forward to reading it. Supporting the authors directly is something I always wished I could do. Good luck with the venture, and I am looking forward to seeing what else you will be able to add to the site.

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