The Night Shade Books section on Baen Webscriptions recently began selling the novelization of the first part of the Girl Genius graphic novel/webcomic series by Phil and Kaja Foglio: Agatha H and the Airship City. As with all Baen titles, including the ones Baen sells on Night Shade’s behalf, there is no DRM, it is available in multiple formats, and the cost is $6.

I follow the Monday/Wednesday/Friday “Girl Genius” webcomic anxiously from week to week, and I am greatly looking forward to the chance to go back to the beginning with this novel and learn all of the background details about the universe that could never be fit into the graphic novel series. (It also brings Girl Genius to the e-book format that Paul thought it couldn’t compete with paper in.) I have already purchased and downloaded it, and can’t wait to dig in.

The print, Kindle, and audiobook versions of it will not officially be available until January 5th. (I have been told that this book is one of very few that don’t have a restricted street date, so bookstores can begin selling it as soon as they have it in stock.)

In his LiveJournal, Phil Foglio asks that people who plan to purchase the book from Amazon wait and do so on January 12th (which also happens to be Kaja’s birthday). He and Kaja hope that so many people buying it on the same day will drive sales rankings high enough that non-fans will notice and check it out and more bookstores will be willing to carry it for local customers. (And if nothing else, it seems like a great birthday present for Kaja, so I’m all for it.)

One thing about the book puzzles me just a bit, however. The Kindle version is priced at $7.99, almost $2 more than the Baen/Night Shade e-book. Given that Amazon’s contract usually requires that they have a price lower than or equal to that for which the title is selling elsewhere, I’m curious about the lack of parity. I have asked about it on Baen’s Bar and will see what I find out.

There is also a “Playaway Adult Fiction” version scheduled for eventual release, at a price of $79.99, which further research reveals is one of those self-contained pre-loaded digital audio players, of the sort that can be bought in airport bookstores or truck stops. $80 seems like a pretty high price to pay for a device that can only play one book, but glancing at other Playaway titles the prices are all at about that level.

I interviewed Phil and Kaja Foglio for my podcast “The Biblio File” back in 2008. It was an interesting show, and I learned a lot about how the strip came about and is developed. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the novel compares.


  1. I think Playaways are mostly aimed at libraries, where there will be multiple listeners for any one book. Our library seems to have gone almost totally towards Playaways rather than regular audiobooks on cd – this may be an anti-piracy move.

  2. People should buy direct from Baen whenever possible anyway – you support the publisher directly so they don’t lose money compared to the Amazon version, and you get access to a plethora of other formats to boot, so you don’t have to perform any conversion if you want to use another reader. The only benefit the Amazon version provides is syncing comments and reading progress if you read on multiple Kindle platforms.

    • Well, in this case Baen actually isn’t the publisher; they’re selling the e-book for Night Shade. I assume they take a standard retailer cut. Certainly I’d be inclined to recommend the DRM-free multiformat version over the more expensive Kindle one in any case. I believe Phil was referring mainly to people who wanted the dead-tree artifact in his buy-on-the-12th plan.

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