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  Purchasing from Baen.com
  Manuscript Submission Guidelines
  Book Binding Problems
  Book Production Timeline
  Book Costs and Short Runs
  David Weber on Shrikes
  David Weber on an Honor Harrington Mini-Series 
  Lois McMaster Bujold on Book Distribution 2000
  About Jim Baen
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Purchasing From Baen.com

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Happy reading.

Manuscript Submission Guidelines

We are looking only for science fiction and fantasy. Writers familiar with what we have published in the past will know what sort of material we are most likely to publish in the future: powerful plots with solid scientific and philosophical underpinnings are the sine qua non for consideration for science fiction submissions. As for fantasy, any magical system must be both rigorously coherent and integral to the plot, and overall the work must at least strive for originality.

Those manuscripts which survive the "first cut" as outlined above are then judged primarily on plot and characterization.

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Reporting time: usually within 9 to 12 Months. (Sorry, we get lots of manuscripts.)

Thank you for thinking of Baen Books.

The Editors

Book Binding Problems

Every once in a while we get a flurry of complaints about one or another title. Once we got a whole LOT of complaints about a great number of titles. In the latter case it turned out that there had been an "environmental" problem in the warehouse.

In the former case, I have to assume that it is a particular and momentary quality control issue. The thing is, our paperback production is handled by our distributor, Simon & Schuster, and our books are produced at the same factory as those of Pocket Books, Bantam, and virtually every major paperback publisher. (Quebecor is the name of the manufacturer.) As a matter of fact our books are actually _ganged_ with Pocket titles, which means they are on the press at the same time, and use the same paper rolls.

So it just can't be a problem particular to Baen... can it?

-Jim Baen

Book Production Timeline

How does YOUR manuscript end up in a book store?

Click here to learn more. (mov or ppsx)




Book Costs and Short Runs
This answer was given to a request to reprint even a few copies of =End Run= which is out of print

The problem is, we can sell maybe a thousand a year while we need to print 15,000 to justify printing at all because a large part of the printing cost is "set-up." Thus if set-up is the same for printing a thousand at, say $4500, while actual printing costs are fifty cents per unit, the actual cost per unit in the first case is a five thousand dollars for a thousand units, or a prohibitive $5 per unit, whereas in the second case the cost is twelve thousand dollars for 15,000 units, or eighty cents per unit.

If I sell books for six bucks that cost me five bucks just to manufacture I'll go broke pretty fast. I get maybe two bucks per book to pay for everything except distribution — the bookstore's profit, authors royalty, manufacturing, cover art, rent and electricity.... everything including baby's new shoes.

Hope this helps. :)

-Jim Baen

David Weber on Shrikes

I salvaged this from an old database. Thought some might like to see it again. *****************************

On 1/22/98 3:05:55 AM, MARK HUME wrote: Simply as a What If. you did not have he capability to place ground troops, could not lift sufficient troops to match what was on the surface, or did not have time to conduct a protracted engagement on the surface. As in time for a hit and run only, doing the most damage possible in the shortest amount of time. Also would be a requirement that you did not care what happened to the planet, population, etc.

Would this be a form of scorched earth defensive policy, Scorched Planet?


Two Problems, guys:

(1) The "rules of war" of HH's universe require a planet to surrender when you control the high orbitals. If it doesn't, you're justified in doing all sorts of nasty things to said planet. But—

(2) If you carry out a mass planetary bombardment, you are in violation of the Solarian League's Eridani Edict, and the League will come and spank you with an axe. This is not an optional decision on the Sollies' part; the Eridani Edict is written into their constitution. This means that doing ANYTHING which could look like an indscriminate area attack on an inhabited planet is very much contraindicated unless you really like having the most powerful political unit in the known galxy come annihilate you.



On 2/14/98 11:42:34 AM, Scott Washburn wrote: William: Good questions. 1. In HAE they tried to recover the pods because they were operating beyond normal logistic support, but considering the cost (and the possible production shortfalls I mentioned earlier)it would make sense to try and recover them. 

2. Purpose built munition ships make sense 3. The problem of escort for the fleet train definitely benefits the defender. O,K, let me throw out a new thought: What sort of conventions exist regarding a planet whose star system is occupied by an enemy fleet?

Supply—and especially missile resupply—IS a major problem for the navies of HH's universe. The RMN does build specialized ammunition ships, and has been building more of them, hence the specialized fast merchantmen Honor is escorting in IEH when she is captured. The question of what happens when an enemy fleet controls the high orbitals has been discussed at some length on alt.books.david-weber. I do not normally do much web surfing because of how it cuts into writing time, but when someone raised the point there a friend of mine e-mailed the question to me. The point is covered (briefly) in ECHOES OF HONOR, where the Eridani Edict is referred to.

I can give a little more explanation without, I think, providing spoiler info on the new book, however. In essence, a planet is supposed to surrender when an enemy fleet controls the high orbitals. This is analagous to the 18th century military tradition which required a fortress to surrender when the attacker's siege guns had blown "a practicable breach" in its walls. If it surrendered at that point, the fortress garrison was assured of decent treatment. If it persisted when, under the "rules of war," its position had become hopeless, the attackers had the "right" to sack the city and execute the garrison. This was because the defenders had been so pigheaded as to continue inflicting casualties when they knew they couldn't win. (It was also a reaction to the incredible bloodshed of the previous century's religious wars.)

In HH's time, this means that since once a planet is exposed to orbital bombardment, its position is hopeless, it is OBLIGED to surrender. If it does not, the attacker may carry out orbital bombardment, though he is supposed to start with military targets and work his way down the list towards civilian targets. There is, however, a catch—the aforesaid Eridani Edict, which the Solarian League enacted after several billion of its citizens were killed in orbital bombardments in the Epsilon Eridani System. The Edict is embodied in the League Constitution and REQUIRES the League Navy to go after ANYONE who carries out an indiscriminate planetary bombardment.

What this means is that if either side in the Havenite Wars were to attack the other side's planetary civilian populations from space, the League would AUTOMATICALLY come in on the other side. Which means, I suspect, that no one will try it.

Of course, I could be wrong. I'm only the writer, and some of these people are STUBBORN :-) . David

On 2/17/98 8:04:47 AM, Scott Washburn wrote: Ronald: You are certainly correct about the increased Alliance production capability. My point, however, was if it is impossible to stop a fractional cee attack against orbital installations, why isn't it happening? The Peeps have shown that they have the ability to make deep penetration operations (Silesia and Fourth Yeltsin) and also sneaky ones like the Argus operation before the war. A Peep attack force could come out of hyper a few light months out of Manticore, accelerate up to .8 cee, launch the missiles and then get out. The Manties would never know they had even been there until the missiles hit two months later. According to Weber there is no defense against this so why aren't the Peeps (and the RMN) doing this?

Excuse me. I never meant to say that ALL fixed defenses were sitting ducks for cee-fractional attacks, and I think there has been some misreading here.

I said that in the case of GRAYSON's original forts, which had been refitted with spherical sidewalls BUT NOT DRIVES, there was no defense against a cee-fractional attack. Newer forts, like those the RMN has deployed to cover wormhole termini and planets, HAVE the ability to move (albeit at low accel rates) and so are not required to hold absolutely predictable positions. This means that long-range cee-fractional strikes become much less effective against them. And, of course, even if the warheads reach attack range of a modern fort, they still have to burn through sidewalls much more powerful than those which could be squeezed into the (small) forts Grayson had refitted.

The orbital defenses of Hades are vulnerable for an additional reason: they not only cannot maneuver, but they also have no sidewalls and can be killed by proximity attacks.

As for the tactic of dropping out of hyper so far out as to be undetected, launching the missiles, accelerating them to .99 cee, and letting them run in to attack range, you hit several problems:

(1) The central systems of the Alliance (and especially the Manticoran Binary System) are equipped with enormous, extremely sensitive gravitic arrays which can detect hyper footprints and impeller wedges at EXTREME ranges.

(2) At any range at which those very large gravitic arrays (like a couple of thousand of kilometers on a side) can't detect YOU upon your emergence from hyper, YOUR targeting systems certainly cannot detect your intended victims. This means you will have to launch blind and hope your targeting data from your system ephemeris is accurate enough to fire "off the map" and hit a target which, however large in absolute terms, is a flea-speck on any sort of solar system scale.

(3) Even assuming that you can make your launch from far enough out, your birds' sensor arrays will be exposed to fairly massive particle erosion once their drives go down. This will even further degrade their ability even to see their targets, should they happen to enter attack range.

(4) Even if your missiles' sensors arrays work properly, and even if a target comes within their cone of vision, it may well not be the RIGHT target. This is not a problem as long as it is an enemy warship, but suppose the wrong target is a neutral freighter? Or a passenger liner? Something like that could be Hard To Explain to the neutral news services.

All in all, this is a tactic which looks good on paper but doesn't work well in real life.


On 2/18/98 3:54:14 PM, Scott Washburn wrote:

One problem with speculating on the design of LAC carriers is that we do not know how big one of the new LAC's is. If the size relation ship between a LAC and an SD was the same as that between an F-14 and a Nimitz class carrier, then a Lac would mass 2500-3000 tons. I have gotten the impression, however, that a LAC is actually somewhere in the 10,000 - 20,000 ton range. Anyone have any ideas?

Try 20,000 tons. The new SHRIKE-class LAC is described (and maybe, oh, used just a LITTLE) in Echoes of Honor. David

On 2/21/98 10:22:32 PM, Douglas Jones wrote:

Getting away from LAC's for a minute. any thoughts on Wall of Battle - dedicated pod launching ships, larger then SD? Start with a large design. No, I mean a LARGE design. forget about 8M such as Wayfarer. Lets try 20 or 30M. Full range of armor, design from the core out as a ship of battle. The newest designs from RMN and Grayson for compensators, PD, etc. Is there an upper limit on energy weapons other then the size of the ship you are trying to fit them into? What would happen if you took a SD size graser and doubled the size and capability? Would that provide a sufficient increase in power output and range to justify the increased space requirement? What would the range be then? What about if the new class could launch 18 pods every 6 seconds. 18 pods x 10 launches x 10 missiles per pod would = 1800 missiles per minute from just one ship. (yes, this was mentioned elsewhere). Would this be sufficient firepower to justify building a division or 2 of these ships? Would the shielding, armor, etc that you could put on a ship this size reduce it's vulnerability due to it's being a larger (the biggest in sight) target? Doug

Using current technology, even with Grayson-derived inertial compensators, a ship of the mass you are describing would have a pitifully low acceleration rate. Remember that even the RMN's 16,000,000-ton Junction forts have an itty-bitty acceleration compared to any warship out there. Go back and look at the technical appendices in MTH, although there is a typo in the section describing the drop off in max accel above 8.5 Mtons. The actual drop is 1 G per 21,929 tons of mass above that. Thus a 30 MT ship, which is 21.5 Mtons bigger would have an acceleration 980 gees lower than an SD. Which, of course, would be a negative number—theoretically speaking. In fact, of course, it would simply be immobile.


On 3/13/98 7:50:44 AM, Scott Washburn wrote:

Andrew, On the targeting issue, I think you are overlooking how big space is and how much acceleration these ships have to work with. In a ten second time span a ship could be dozens, hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away from where its "predicted course" would have put it if it had not changed course. No "canister blast" of energy shots over a wide area is going to have much luck hitting anything. As for the wall of battle - true its maneuverability is somewhat restricted but even a very tight wall is still mostly empty space.

FTL energy weapons, hey? I don't think so . . . unless somebody can figure out how to create a hyper space fold to zap the weapon through, sort of like DAHAK's fold-space coms. Of course, the Imperium had tech just a LITTLE more advanced than HH's.

On the long-range energy weapon targeting question, I really hate to point this out, but they don't even have to change course randomly to screw you up at really extended ranges. All they have to do is roll ship at unpredictable intervals, since no energy weapon can penetrate an impeller wedge. And a wall of battle can do that without undue difficulty if they are well trained and drilled. For that matter, individual ships within the wall could roll ship AS individuals rather than attempting to roll the entire wall at once, which would REALLY confuse your sensors at that sort of extended range. Since SOMEONE would be shooting at you the entire time, it would be extremely difficult (aka, impossible) to tell which ship was in what attitude at any given moment.

But it would be a nice thing to have if it were possible to make it work. David

I thought about it for a while and finally decided to go ahead and post the basic stats for the new SHRIKE-class LACs of the RMN. These are discussed in ECHOES OF HONOR, where (hint, hint) you will also get to see them in action for the first time. I don't plan to discuss their tactical doctrine or combat debut with any specificity, because I don't want to inadvertently give up any spoilers for what happens in the book, but I'm sure you uninhibited bunch of speculators can have fun playing with the new class all on your own.

The SHRIKE-class masses 20,000 metric tons, is 115 meters in length, with a maximum beam of 19.2 meters, and does NOT have the conventional warship hammerheads. It carries a crew of only 10: CO, XO, astrogator, tac officer, engineer, assistant engineer, helmsman, sensor officer, com officer, & electronic warfare specialist. It has NO broadside armament OR point defense.

The SHRIKE's main armament is a spinal graser mount (equivalent to a main battery weapon from one of the HOMER-class BCs), 4 "revolver" launchers for shipkiller missiles, and 4 counter-missile tubes, supported by 6 point defense laser clusters mounted around the graser emitter. The missile tubes are in blisters mounted aft of the forward impeller ring, aligned to fire between the nodes, which is the reason the normal hammerhead was Omitted: to clear the tubes' field of fire. Because of advances in mass drivers, missile on-board electronics, and shipboard fire control, coupled with the tubes' placement aft of the forward ring, a SHRIKE can fire attack missiles OR point defense missiles at angles of up to 120 degrees "off bore". The SHRIKE's shipkillers are equivalent to those carried by CLs or DDs, and each revolver magazine carries 5 missiles (total of 20 anti-shipping missiles carried internally), while the counter-missile magazine contains 52 missiles. With their new compensators, the SHRIKES can attain accelerations of 636 G at max military power, or 508.8 G at the normal "80% of military power" maximum rating of the RMN.

The SHRIKEs are also the first class to be fitted with the new "beta-squared" impeller nodes. These are MUCH more powerful than older beta nodes, reducing the required number of nodes from 16 per impeller ring to only 8. (They are more massive than the old beta nodes, but only by 15%-20%, and the mass saved is one reason the new ships are able to fit in internal magazines.) The mass savings also permit much more powerful sidewall generators, and the efficiency of the SHRIKEs' sidewalls is roughly equivalent to that of many older CAs, though not to that of the most recent ships of that type.

In addition, one of the LACs biggest problems has always been limited endurance; they simply do not have the bunker space for fusion reactor hydrogen for more than a few weeks' cruising. The SHRIKEs, however, borrowing another element from the Grayson tech bag, are built around high efficiency, very lightweight FISSION reactors, which means their endurance is now limited only by their environmental support.

On the electronics front, the new LACs have EW (and especially ECM) capabilities superior to most light cruisers. Coupled with their much smaller impeller signatures, which are already much less readily detectable than a DD's, that makes them far more stealthy than any other warship yet built. A SHRIKE mounts 3 tractors, which means it can tow up to 3 missile pods, but only with severe degradation of its acceleration curve. A SHRIKE with a single pod suffers a 20% reduction in accel; one with 2 pods suffers a 50% reduction; and one with 3 pods suffers an 80% reduction (max military power accel of only 127.2 gees). In addition, even a single pod on tow requires drive power levels which make stealth very difficult even with all the EW built into the new class.

The SHRIKE also mounts the new Phase Four FTL com. The P4 Com pulse repetition rate per beta node increase from one roughly every 93 seconds to one about every 9.5 seconds AND the new com is able to use separate beta nodes to generate separate pulses—that is, it has a total of 16 pulse generators, which means it can translate one pulse roughly every .594 seconds, with obvious advantages in increased data transmission rates. (Like by a factor of about 15657% over the Phase One com.)

Finally, the SHRIKE can do something no other warship can: it generates a BOW sidewall (already dubbed the "bow wall"). This is not as foolish as it sounds, despite the fact that it is well known that the forward and after aspects of an impeller wedge cannot be closed if the drive is to function. The trick is that one CAN close the bow aspect of a wedge so long as one is willing to accept that the wedge cannot then be used to accelerate or maneuver the vessel. That is, once the bow wall goes up, the LAC is limited to vector changes attainable with pure reaction thrusters until the bow wall comes down again. The bow wall contains only a single firing port—for the graser—which means that no missiles, offensive or defensive, may be fired while the bow wall is up. However, it is an IMMENSELY powerful bow wall—much more powerful than the sidewalls—and offers hostile units a very, very small, VERY "hardened" target.

The SHRIKE's biggest weakness, aside from its fragility, is that its sensor suite and on-board computer support, while probably at least as good as anything the Peeps currently possess, are simply too cramped for space to be up to the standards of heavier Manty units. A SHRIKE's sensors and fire control can be considered roughly equivalent to those of an RMN DD/CL, but are considerably inferior to those of any heavier units.

I won't go into any detail about squadron organization, wing size, the design of prototype carriers, etc., although these have been worked out for the novel. I figure this ought to be enough for you people to play with for the moment.

But I WILL tell you the name of the officer selected to run Project Anzio and test the feasibility of the LAC-carrier concept. You've met her before: Captain (SG) Alice Truman.


— David

On 3/16/98 2:09:55 PM, Paul Schmidt wrote: David, thanks for the info. I agree that you don't have to plug your books,

Maybe I don't have to, but there's a boisterous (not to say snerky) little boy side of me that ENJOYS plugging them. And this one is going to run to 250,000-plus words, so I feel even more pluggish than usual.

I thought Alice Truman was senior to Alistar McKeon? If so how come she has not promoted to Commodore?

Because McKeon got promoted out of the zone. It happens, even in the RMN, and especially in wartime.

Also, as a nuclear engineer I find it difficult to imagine a fission reactor that would have a higher energy Density than a fusion reactor. Kg for Kg the energy available by fusing 1 Kg of hydrogen is far more than that available by fissioning 1 Kg of Uranium

I never said the fission plants had a higher energy density than a fusion plant. What I said was that they were high efficiency fission plants—ie., much more efficient than anything the 20th century CE can boast. Their output is actually considerably lower than contemporary fusion plants (oh nit-picky Nuc!), but, then again, a LAC, even with a great, huge, humongous graser strapped on doesn't NEED the power output of a BC-sized fusion plant. What it does need that it hasn't had before is ENDURANCE, and that's where the fission plant comes in. You could look at it rather like the USN looked at reciprocating steam plants-versus-turbines in the first decade or so of this century. The turbine could drive a battleship at a higher rate of speed, but it was inefficient in terms of cruising radius (endurance) compared to "last generation" reciprocating plants with forced lubrication. Accordingly, the USN opted to stick with the older-style plants much longer than anyone else did, because the USN was the only navy then designing its battle fleet for strategic endurance. Similar considerations (plus superior damage-resistance ability) also helped drive the USN's later interest in turbo-electric machinery.

Oops. Digression. At any rate, the point for the SHRIKE is that the RMN has opted to trade off reduced power output for enhanced endurance in a unit whose power requirements are lower than those of larger units.

BTW, this is possible only because the Graysons, redeveloping their tech in isolation and living in a neighborhood lousy with heavy metals and fissionables, resurrectedd a power plant the rest of humanity had long ago abandoned. Their designs were much more efficient than the mainstream galactic tech base had contemplated, and the SKM, with other high tech goodies to play with, had tweaked it still further.


David Weber on an Honor Harrington Mini-Series

Someone told me you guys were discussing this topic(s), so I thought I'd drop in.

First, don't EVEN get me started on ST. We don'r have that much time or bandwidth.

On the HH front, however, what's actually being contemplated is a regular series, not a mini-series.

I've seen the first draft of the proposed 2-hour pilot, and while I have some minor problems with it, I am quite impressed overall. The senior script-writer show-runner of the crew working on this project (on spec, at this point) is a Royal Navy veteran with experience as both a watch officer and with naval intelligence, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. (In the first draft of the script, he was busy using wet-navy helm orders for maneuvers under thrusters at space stations. He knew they were wrong, but he also knew that he could write them in a coherent fashion and planned on cleaning them up later.)

There is enough interest in the project that said show runner is flying down to Australia to discuss money and possible filming locations. Where we go from here and/or how quickly we do so is in the laps of the gods.

One thing. I have not attempted to retain dictatorial control of the (possible) series for two main reasons: (1) script writing is not what I do for a living and is not my area of expertise, and (2) they are thinking in terms of a 3-5 season story arc to cover the novels from OBS to EoH, and if I got deeply involved in making sure they did all of them perfectly according to the series, I wouldn't get any new novels done during that time frame. Since I am planning at least 9 more in the HH story line plus a spin-off series (which I think of as the "Saganami Island" series which will focus on certain of Honor's Academy students and their careers and which should also go to at least 8 or 9 books), the time sink facets of the operation would simply make my detailed, hands-on involvement in the scripts themselves impractical.

Having said that, the one point I did insist upon was that if I DID have any concerns, their senior writers would be contractually required to respond to my concerns in writing. This will not compel them to do things my way, but it will (hopefully) at least compel them to think seriously about what I'm saying rather than just blowing it off. Also, the exact degree of supervision and visits to the set on my part which might be involved remains to be settled.

I suppose I ought to say right up front that I do not expect any eventual series to be an exact rendering of my view of HH and her universe. For one thing, I am more concerned with an actress who can portray Honor's personality and — especially — her command style than I am with someone who looks like she is described in the books. Mind you, I would NOT be happy if they cast a blue-eyed blonde in the role, but how many female 6'2" Eurasian martial artists who can also act AND project her command style are there?

The thing that I like best about the pilot script version I've seen so far is that entire blocks of dialogue are lifted directly out of the book at critical points in the development of relationships between people like Honor, McKeon, Dominica Santos, etc. Harkness' role is punched up somewhat, since they intend to make him a more prominent character in the earlier books, and while I find the sudden emergence of a decidedly lower class British accent on his part a bit unsettling, it actually grows on one with time.

I don't know whether or not I'm at liberty at this point to tell you who all is involved in this, but I can tell you that at least one individual had a series-long association with B5, which may also give you some hope for where everything is/may be headed.

As I say, at this point we don't know exactly how likely the series actually is to be produced, and things like this have a habit of taking a LOOOOONG time to gel (or not gel, as the case may be). We have had several expressions of interest from studios and cable channels, so that may be a good sign, but there's absolutely no way to predict the ultimate success or failure of the project.

Gotta go back and write some more,

Lois McMaster Bujold on Book Distribution 2000

Copyright © 1999  Lois McMaster Bujold

                I've been mulling over a little informative mini-essay for the general interest of the Barflies, and this seems as good a place to stick it in as any.  This is all about the business of publishing, rather than the art of writing, standard writer-gossip; you may imagine that a bunch of writers discuss High Art when they get together, but I'm sorry to say they more usually bitch about money.  (The less obvious reason for this is that no writer can talk about his/her own book in front of another writer with the emotional intensity they really feel; it just doesn't work, socially.)

                Anyway.  The publishing business as it is presently constituted consists of three parts: publisher, distribution system, and bookstores, followed at a remove by reader-customers.  A publisher's actual main customers are not the readers, but the book chains, and big distributors such as Ingram's or Baker & Taylor who in turn supply small bookstores and libraries.   Present conditions have the publishers trying to push ten gallons of books into a five-gallon pipeline (the distribution system) into a three-gallon bucket (the bookstores).  Something has to give, and it does.  

                The first way to get More Stuff through is to speed it up, which is why books whip on and off the shelves with such velocity these days (category romance novels are given, count 'em, thirty days on the market before being replaced by the next batch.)  What this means is, the speed of book turnover has grown to be faster than the speed of word of mouth, a slowish process formerly vital to a new book or author.  All but the very first readers to buy a book thus have no way to send economic feedback messages back through the system saying, "More, please."  The late reader loses a vote.

                The second pernicious thing that's happened to take away readers' voices in the process occurs at the stuffing-books-in end of the distribution system.  I was bewildered when I first heard of a large ad budget being spent on a book when I never saw sign of an ad in any newspaper or even bookstore.  Turns out that money was being spent advertising to distributors of various ilks.   Publishers have turned, in something like despair, to attempts to buy room for their books in that narrow pipeline; hence such things as paid placement at the front of a bookstore, front page treatment in book chain newsletters, various complex incentives for high volume, etc.  (I won't even get into the evils of the book returns system here — that will take another essay to explain.)  Naturally, publishers with deep pockets have an advantage in this Darwinian competition for space, and work like mad to pitch the packaging of their books to a harried crew of buyers who, given the volume of books to pass through their hands, can not possibly read them.

                Again, the result has been to take away another piece of the readers' voice in the process.  If a book — or rather, its packaging and the sales numbers of previous books by that author — fails to pass muster at the stuffing-in end of the pipeline, no reader (or very few) will ever learn of its existence in order to ask for it.  Reader input is limited to an expensive and wasteful negative — readers can (and do) reject books they do see, but they have no way of asking for books they don't see.

                Such was the hair-tearing state of the business in the middle of the 90's.

                Then along came the Internet.

                And publisher's websites such as Baen's Bar.  And some short guy who had a better idea what to do with his website. And Amazon.com, with shelves that never get too full to hold More Stuff.   And still more — word of mouth got hyperdrive through chat groups and email.  Word of mouth got faster, even, than the system's book-removal rhythm. 

                And suddenly, publishers now have an economical way of getting the word out to the excluded people in this process, the actual book readers, of their books' existences — totally jumping over the unfortunate book-blocking nature of the distribution system.  Instead of trying to push books through the pipeline, this intelligence network allows a thousand or ten thousand of you guys to line up on the other end and pull the books through — the books you want, not the ones some desperately overworked distribution exec imagines will sell.

                Folks, it's a revolution.  And you were here when the barricades were stormed.  It's possible — we're still in the middle of the smoke and rubble here — that it may be a revolution that re-makes the book industry as profoundly as Ian Ballantine's development of the mass market paperback.  Because it takes the fundamental power to decide what books appear — placed by the physical and historical accidents and necessities of the industry into the hands of people who don't read books — and puts it back into the hands of people who do.

And it's all happening by accident, while someone was trying to do something else — downright Milesian, I'd say.

All power to the readers.

Ta, Lois. 

About Jim Baen

Jim Baen started his publishing career, appropriately enough, in the complaint department of Ace Books after stints in the Army, at CCNY, and in Greenwich Village in the Sixties working as the manager of a folk music coffee shop (a "basket house"). He soon moved to take Judy Lynn Del Rey's place at Galaxy magazine, and became editor of Galaxy and If in 1974 after brief trip back to Ace to be assistant Gothics editor. While at Galaxy he published such authors as Jerry Pournelle, Charles Sheffield, Joanna Russ and John Varley, and was nominated for several Hugo Awards. He returned to Ace to head their science fiction line, working with publisher Tom Doherty. When Doherty left to start Tor, Baen shortly followed and started the SF line there. In 1983 he had the opportunity to start his own independent company, Baen Books, distributed then and now by Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster. Baen Books has become a market leader, publishing books at the heart of SF, by authors such as David Drake, Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, David Weber, James Hogan, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Niven and many more. Jim Baen was very active on the baen.com website, "Baen's Bar," where his interests in evolutionary biology, space technology, politics, military history, and bad puns are discussed along with science fiction.

He passed away June 12, 2006 after a stroke. His obituary may be read at www.david-drake.com

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