Books, movies, politics, and whatever I want

Sunday SciFi: Jim Baen and Baen Books

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

JC Carlton has a really nice Jim Baen tribute article.   Well worth the read.

I’m a fan of Baen Books.  I like hard SciFi and adventure.  Andrew Liptak notes in his article on Jim Baen, that “the type of fiction that Baen was most interested in: adventurous, escapist, and fun.”   I pay my money to be entertained.  I don’t need lectures on social justice, and the evils of capitalism. I get more than enough of that just from living in New England.

Thomas Disch, author of The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered The World, doesn’t share my opinion.  I read his book, which I liked. Mr. Disch however didn’t like any Science Fiction with the slightest politically conservative leaning.  He also wasn’t too fond of female authors either.  He targeted Baen specifically for catering stories for conservative fans.  I think a more accurate description would be that Jim Baen didn’t discriminate against authors with a politically conservative viewpoint, as other publishing companies did. There are authors who only deal with Baen, because of the open hostility shown at some other publishing houses to any author who didn’t toe the progressive leftist line. Jim Baen didn’t care about your politics, he cared if you could write good adventure stories.  Case in point, Eric Flint.  Eric Flint is one of the top selling authors at Baen, both in number of books, and number of books sold.  He was also an editor at Baen for a while.  He as also worked for the Socialist Workers Party. Mr. Flint is a well educated historian, who paid for grad school by working as a longshoreman.  He has also co-authored books with Charles E. Gannon, David Weber, and Tom Kratman.

Baen was also an early pioneer in using the Internet as a way to reach their readers.  The Baen Bar forums were up and running before most publishing houses knew there was an Internet.  Baen also was one of the first publishing houses to sell ebooks.  They also bucked the trend, by refusing to put DRM (“copy protection”) on their ebooks.  Jim Baen went by  the novel notion that his customers were not crooks, and actually wanted the authors of the books they read to be successful, and write more books.    Jim Baen went as far to put out CDs (included with hardcover purchases, as well as available online), with a complete catalog of an given author’s work.  All without any encryption, and in multiple e-reader formats.

I did some research into the e-book market, and the Baen approach, for a graduate marketing class.  The problem, as stated by Eric Flint, wasn’t people stealing your books. The problem was that people don’t know about your books.   Baen Books found that when they put out an e-book as a free download on their site, sales rose.  Not only for that book, but for the entire author’s catalog that was still in print.

Jim Baen loved his work, and knew that if you gave the fans a good ripping yarn of high adventure, and didn’t consider them criminals, he could spend more time working on content than running the business.

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Monday Book Pick: A Call to Duty

Monday, March 30th, 2015

A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn

This is the first book in the Manticore Ascendant series, which is a prequel series to the Honor Harrington series. It takes place in the early days of the Manticoran Star Kingdom, when the Manticoran Navy was not so powerful or well funded. It took a couple of chapters to get me hooked, but one it picked up, I didn’t want to put it down.

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Monday Book Pick: Big Boys Don’t Cry

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman

Tom Kratman writes a Bolo Novella. OK, they aren’t called “Bolos”, but Parthas. They are just huge, tank like, war machines with an AI core, that are pretty damn smart by the time they reach revs in the late thirties. Let’s just say that in this morality play, the Partha’s human masters do things to them that no Bolo (or Partha) should have to live through. I know a few things about the military, military history, and training. Subjects that Kratman is an expert on, and all three play a part in this story. An interesting read, with a happier ending than you would expect.

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Monday Book Pick: The Forever Engine

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The Forever Engine by Frank Chadwick

Crunchy Steampunk goodness from one of the founders of the genre. Yes, it’s that Frank Chadwick, creater of the Space:1889 RPG. Those of you, like me, will find a good deal familiar with tale of adventure and Mad Science. Including Liftwood, stout hearted British Marines, and a five barrel Nordenfelt!

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Monday Book Pick: Dead Six

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Dead Six by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari

This is an upfront adventure story. Two groups of very skilled killers, one a group of mercenaries, the other a group of ruthless thieves. Both end up in a small Middle Eastern country and their missions often put them into conflict. Lots of action, very accurate weapons description and handling, shadow agencies, and grand conspiracies. I really enjoyed this book, a fun read with plenty of action and twists.

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Monday Book Pick: Tiger by the Tail

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Tiger by the Tail by John Ringo and Ryan Sear

The latest in John Ringo’s Paladin of Shadows series. Mostly written by Ryan Sear from an outline by John Ringo. As you should remember, the first book in the series, Ghost (a Monday Book pick in in 2009), was one Ringo felt he had to write from a personal perspective, but never thought it would be published. Not only was it published, but it was a run away best seller that won an award as a Romance novel for its open and honest look into the B&D/S&M world from the viewpoint of a Het male Dom. Tiger by the Tail follows the Kildar and his dour band of warriors to the South Pacific, where they are hunting pirates as a training exercise. Of course, things get interesting from there. It’s a fun filled action series, so expect battles, adventure, beautiful exotic women, spies, and references to really good beer. Ringo handed the bulk of the writing to Ryan Sear. Sear has been the fellow writing the current Executioner series (originally written by Don Pendleton). A gritty pulp series about an Army sniper in Vietnam who’s family has been destroyed by the Mafia, so he declares a one man domestic war on the Organized Crime families. One of the cool things about that series was the firearm gearhead detail. This is something that Ryan Sear has brought into the Paladin of Shadows series and personally, I think it fits well. The characters are a little wooden compared to the previous books, but that isn’t unexpected since this is the first time Sear is taking them out for a spin. Close enough to be recognizable to fans of the series, so as they say “good enough for government work.” Like most books in the series, there is some sex, but this primarily an adventure pulp of the old school, which is a good thing.

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Monday Book Pick: Rogue

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Rogue by Michael Z. Williamson

Williamson revisits Kenneth Chinran, the “hero” of The Weapon. The war is over, Ken wants nothing to with his his role in the war, just be left alone and raise is daughter. Of course, that isn’t going to happen. One of Chinran’s team members has “gone rogue” and the Government of Freehold wants him taken down. Mainly because they don’t want other governments getting a reminder of just how deadly a trained Freehold Operative is. Chinran, and his lovely young assistant, travel across known space tracking down their prey as he performs assassination after assassination, including Earth, were Chinran is justifably afraid of being torn to small bloody bits by the surviving population.

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Monday Book Pick: The Hot Gate

Monday, June 20th, 2011

The Hot Gate by John Ringo

The third in his latest series, which is “old school SciFi Space Opera”. Ya, we got your epic space battle right here, and in case you forgot no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. They have their own battle plans, that is why they are called the enemy. Sometimes you don’t win, but not losing can still carry the day. A damn fine read. May Mr. Ringo continue providing his ‘reader crack’ a pace that destroys laptops but pays for many new ones.

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Monday Book Pick: Citadel

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Citadel by John Ringo

This is the second in his “Troy Rising” series and it doesn’t fail to deliver! The first book in the series was a pick last year. He said he was going to go old school SciFi Space Opera with this series, and my hope what he would go E.E. “Doc” Smith big. Let me just say that my faith in Mr. Ringo was not misplaced. A very fun read. I recommend this series to long term Ringo fans, like me, and to those who haven’t sampled his particular brand of reader crack yet.

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Interview Toni Weisskopf, publisher of Baen Books

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Teleread has a very good interview with Toni Weisskopf, the publisher of Baen Books.  Now, as those of you who have followed my ramblings for a while know, I’m a fan of Baen and their policies on e-books.   Go read the whole article, but here are some of the “money quotes.”

TW: Well, part of the “secret” there is that we don’t pay for expensive DRM (“digital rights management”) schemes. I’ve never understood why we should add to our costs with the sole outcome that it’s harder for readers to buy and read the books we want to sell. On the contrary, I want to make it as easy as possible for my readers to find, purchase and read my books. That goal influences every publishing decision I make from our marketing to what typefaces we use.

Specifically, I think ebooks will extend the market for books, not reduce it. But then what I am selling is good stories; I don’t care what medium I sell those stories in. If my readers tell me they want it chipped on stone, I will find some way to do that. If they want me to beam the story directly to a chip in the brain, I will do that.

In a nutshell, the problem of the midlist author or publisher is not piracy, but lack of exposure.

The other side of the coin is that Jim Baen didn’t believe our readers are thieves and neither do I. I believe they will buy the book when they have the money. And I don’t believe our readers are ignorant. The understand TANSTAAFL. Our readers understand that we can’t continue to find great books and the authors continue to write them if we don’t get paid. So we don’t treat our readers badly by trying to micromanage the use of the ebooks, and we have been amply rewarded for that trust.

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