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Old 07-05-2010, 12:30 PM   #1
NatCh
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Author Issues E-Book Challenge

Michael A. Stackpole Issues E-Book Challenge To Readers

I'm only just finding out about this, but it seems like something worth noting, even if it's a bit late.


Many will recognize Michael Stackpole's name, he's written pretty broadly and eclectically, stretching from Battletech, through the Star Wars universe and into several flavors of epic fantasy.

Some of his writings have been available as e-versions from various controlled stores such as Amazon and Sony's ebookstore, however he's recently dipped his toe into the waters of self-published e-books, with a bit of a twist.

The toe-dipping part is that he's offering his backlist novels Once A Hero, and Talion: Revenant as unrestricted e-books from his website store (which takes PayPal) for $5. You read that correctly, five American Dollars.

In the case of Talion, Mr. Stackpole has issued a challenge to his readers: if he can sell 10,000 e-copies of Talion: Revenant (the same number that the paper version sold) he will write and publish its sequel, Talion: Nemesis.

Apparently he's had notes for the sequel for quite some time, and even part of it written, and is using the e-sales as sort of a replacement for the Advance for writing the sequel which a publisher would offer if he were following the "traditional" route.

I'm particularly intrigued and impressed by some of the comments he's made about this experiment, for example:
Quote:
What I’m really enthused about is the number of folks who actually get it. This whole challenge isn’t just about getting enough money to write a sequel. It’s about making a fundamental change in the way publishing is done. Instead of getting paid by publishers for what they guess I might sell in the future, I can work on the basis of being paid for work I’ve already done. The advantage there is incredible because it buys me the freedom to turn out the kind of work that I want to write and which, rather obviously, my patrons (that would be you) want to read. With this cycle ramping up, I’d be in a position to ask you what you want to see next from me, be it more DragonCrown War material, more stories in the Age of Discovery world, long work, short work, new and experimental work.
I strongly encourage you to have a look at his full comments on the Talion experiment, here and here, and also his comments on Once A Hero, located here. Not only are they interesting for their perspective on e-publishing, but they offer some interesting tidbits on the histories of the books in question.

For those interested, I encourage you to consider purchasing one or both of these books. I haven't read Once a Hero (yet!) but everything else I've read by Mr. Stackpole I've greatly enjoyed, so I have no reservations about commending his works to you. For those who would specifically like to see a Talion sequel, here's something you can do to make that more likely.

For everyone, what do you think of Mr. Stackpole's perspective on e-publishing? He seems to be viewing it from a slightly different direction than I'd ever considered before, and one I think will be particularly appealing to other Authors.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:54 PM   #2
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I was going to buy Talion but he wants too much information for a PayPal purchase. I don't want to register to buy a single book, at least not where I have to give all the information Stackpole wants. It isn't as if I'm likely to return to the website frequently. If the book is available elsewhere, perhaps I'll buy it (if I remember about it), but otherwise it's a lost sale. I wrote Stackpole and advised him of the lost sale and why.

Last edited by rhadin; 07-05-2010 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:54 PM   #3
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Old 07-05-2010, 01:16 PM   #4
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Never heard or read anything from him but I might give one of his books a try. It certainly is a interesting way to turn things around when it comes to publishing.
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Old 07-05-2010, 02:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
If the book is available elsewhere, perhaps I'll buy it (if I remember about it), but otherwise it's a lost sale. I wrote Stackpole and advised him of the lost sale and why.
I know that it's available via Amazon, but that's only helpful for those with a Kindle. It looks like it may be available through iTunes, as well.

I suppose you could create an account with bogus info, and do the paypal that way ... but I think your solution is probably the best, rhadin.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
I was going to buy Talion but he wants too much information for a PayPal purchase. I don't want to register to buy a single book, at least not where I have to give all the information Stackpole wants. It isn't as if I'm likely to return to the website frequently. If the book is available elsewhere, perhaps I'll buy it (if I remember about it), but otherwise it's a lost sale. I wrote Stackpole and advised him of the lost sale and why.
If you buy his books at another online store you will have to register the same information. I do not see the problem.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:30 PM   #7
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A warning for people downloading the books.
The download page does not like download accelerator programs.
I am using "Download Accelerator" and my first try to download one of the books (which went wrong) expired the download (you should have 3 tries).
Downloading the other book without using Download Accelerator went fine.

I have sent an e-mail to the website. Am I sure this will be solved.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:38 PM   #8
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Hmm, selling a book he actually published more than 20 years ago, and most of the people that like his writing actually already have.... I am not quite inclined to chip out another $5 to buy a book I already bought 15 or so years ago for $6.99. Paying $5 for a sequel seems reasonable, though.

I'd give him more chance when he would give away this book to those not knowing him and then sell the sequel for $5.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geertm View Post
A warning for people downloading the books.
The download page does not like download accelerator programs.
I am using "Download Accelerator" and my first try to download one of the books (which went wrong) expired the download (you should have 3 tries).
Downloading the other book without using Download Accelerator went fine.

I have sent an e-mail to the website. Am I sure this will be solved.
A follow up to my previous post.
I have already received a reply from Michael Stackpole that my download has been reset. I was able to download the book without a problem this time.
Good customer service!
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:47 PM   #10
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I have both books in paper, but went ahead and bought both in ebook format.

As for some of the comments, all I can say is do you want ebooks or not? The information collected is standard billing info and you can also pay by check or money order. I have yet to buy from someone who didn't ask for the normal billing info.

As far as $5 for a backlist book, well do you want more books or not? If an author can't make enough money to make ends meet, then he is going to move on to a different line of work. This has already happened to several authors who I really liked. $5 is certainly less than you would pay for a paper copy of the book. Yes, I know you payed $7 bucks years ago, so what. I paid 99 cents for my original copies of Moorcock's books way back when they first came out. That's how much they cost back then. The going price for a new copy of the same books is much more now. Heck, if half the price of many ebooks.

One last note. Neither book has any sort of DRM. If you like the author or haven't read the author, but like fantasy, then it's time to put up or shut up. If this doesn't work out for Stackpole and other authors point to this experiment as a reason for using DRM or not publishing their works in ebook format, then you have only yourself to blame.

Last edited by pwalker8; 07-05-2010 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geertm View Post
If you buy his books at another online store you will have to register the same information. I do not see the problem.
The difference to me is that (1) I am already registered with PayPal so why do I have to give the information to someone else who really has no need for it? (2) I have given the information to bookstores to whom I return regularly to do business and who I know (reasonably) are legitimate businesses. This website offers nothing else to buy, I don't know the owner, and I see no reason to give yet someone else my information. (3) Tell me why Stackpole or his bookshop need my telephone number and address? If he doesn't plan to use it, he has no need for it; if he plans to use it, I don't want to roll over and give it to him.

Bottom line is that I simply find it intrusive for no good reason.
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:01 PM   #12
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This looks neat. I might have paper copies of the books, but on the other hand, they may be in the box I gave to my nephew when I moved. It'll be easier just to buy the e-books. The print in the paperbacks kinda sucked anyway.
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Old 07-05-2010, 08:49 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by rhadin View Post
Bottom line is that I simply find it intrusive for no good reason.
I tend to agree.. I'm usually not very paranoid about buying online (been doing it for more years than I'll admit to), but there is no valid reason to need all that data, except the software he's using for his online store requires it. Username and password should be enough to open an account. If more data is needed for the credit card, then get it later or allow Paypal to handle the intrusive stuff.
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:50 PM   #14
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I've never read that book by him, but I decided to pick up the Kindle version from Amazon.

From reading his site he combines the sales from all of the places, so no need to buy straight from his site if you have an account elsewhere.
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Old 07-05-2010, 10:49 PM   #15
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10,000 copies sounds very, very, very ambitious.

I'd conciser buying, but from the descriptions the books don't sound even remotely my taste.
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