The world isn’t all bad


Today: new issues of Mythic Delirium and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, three new preorders from Small Beer Press and two—including a collection of Kage Baker’s film columns—from Tachyon. (There’s also a free Small Beer download here.)

But mostly I wanted to write about two online/ebook things of note. First: FictionwiseI signed up in April 2004 and our first Small Beer titles went up there in 2005. It was a good site, with its own weirdnesses (like all sites, cough?). They would, rather handily for us, take especially formatted rtf files and make them into ebooks—sort of like an early version of Smashwords or Calibre. We had to pay $5 to buy the files back, but it meant we’d have the weird formats we needed (epub (what did that mean?), lit, (R.I.P., but not missed), and mobi (what?)) to distribute to other sites. (Some of our ebooks are still sourced from those files!) In 2009 when Barnes & Noble bought them I expected the site to disappear immediately. Instead they gave it a couple of years to wind down and now it’s near dormant. Ah well. Thanks chaps!

Second: Despite general crappiness in various parts of the world, here at Weightless it’s been an awe-inspiring week watching the reading community gather around and support Neil Clarke and his excellent Clarkesworld Magazine.

Readers from all over the world subscribed, donated, and spread the word and the subscriptions (here and on Am*zon) piled up. Neil used to run a bookstore, Clarkesworld Books—you can still buy some of his stock online and at conventions. He stocked all kinds of sf&f books, including from February 2003 onward, Small Beer books and chapbooks—and even our zine, LCRW. He was quick to pay and stocked most of our books—what is not to love?—so of course we were sad when he closed the store in 2007.

But Neil had already started Clarkesworld Magazine in October 2006, so we couldn’t be that sad. Clarkesworld was reliable, paid writers well, and published good stuff. Neil and co. quickly made their mark and became one of the best sf&f magazines around. So when Neil lost his day job last week, lots of readers, writers, editors, fans, artists, podcasters, etc., etc., who Neil had treated well were all looking out for him. No one wanted Clarkesworld to go away. The word was spread and spread, and people came out with fervor.

It was amazing to see and, besides being a great example of a community reacting positively to some bad news, it was a great example of what a difference many small, solitary acts of support can make. No one person could do what needed to be done to keep the magazine going: but hundreds of people doing what they could, that made a difference. With luck Clarkesworld will be going strong for many years to come and I wanted to especially thank everyone who subscribed through Weightless. It was awesome to know that—besides doing what we set out to do: get DRM-free ebooks out to the widest possible readership—we were also helping just a little bit to keep Neil and his awesome magazine in business.

3 Responses to “The world isn’t all bad”

  1. sohkamyung says:

    I, too, will miss Fictionwise. When most ebook vendors where locking their wares up in DRM, Fictionwise stood out as a non-DRM book provider.

    I will also miss reading “Asimov’s SF”, which I buy from Fictionwise. As far as I can tell, the other ebook providers of “Asimov’s SF” are not DRM-free, or hide the fact so well that I can’t discover that piece of info.

    I don’t suppose you will be selling Asimov’s any time soon? If not, then now might be a good time for me to consider subscribing to an alternative SF magazine like, say, Clarkesworld…};-)

  2. Gavin says:

    I don’t think we’re getting Asimov’s, but it wouldn’t hurt for both of us to query them. And Clarkesworld is an excellent alternative!

  3. sohkamyung says:

    I sent a mail a few days ago to about this (DRM-free Asimov’s). No reply…};-(

    At least Gordon Van Gelder (editor of F&SF) was kind enough to reply to me after F&SF moved from Fictionwise to Amazon when I asked him the same question last year. (No, no DRM-free F&SF either.)

    Ah well, times change. Time to start looking at Clarkesworld I suppose.

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