The first thing to say about this is that it’s incredibly cheap. £69 for lots of books is good, by any measures. The second is that it’s incredibly smart. The third that I’d expect this to be the first of many such plans offered by small, medium AND large publishers.
The thing about subscription plans though, and this is more a note to watch for future activity, is that they are of greatest benefit the readers when they cover a very wide number of titles. I’d expect the subscription selection to increase, even if at the same time the number of downloads permitted is reduced. That growth could come either by acquisition, publication or partnership with other science-fiction and fantasy genre publishers. What’s more, as the list grows, it would be very sensible to sub-divide the list along more niche lines (and maybe even charge more):
A 12 Month Subscription to Angry Robot Titles – download your first titles, now!
Every new Angry Robot title between now and 12 months from now.
That’s a minimum of 24 eBooks for one, small, up-front price!
We publish a minimum of 24 new eBooks a year, and you can get every one of these over the next 12 months for the price, indicated. We publish 2 books most months, none in December, but usually 3 in April and September.
If we publish more than 24 books between the start and end of your subscription, you will get those free of charge. Omnibus editions and re-releases are not included as part of your subscription.
via Angry Robot 12 Month Subscription – angryrobotstore.com.
I downloaded the free version of Osprey’s The Military History Quiz App last week and I just wanted to give it a quick word of praise*.
Simply put, it’s excellent. It combines some excellent design with great questions and a very clever in-App purchase set of options.
First the design which is smooth and consistent and looks good throughout the app. It has a sufficiently martial theme to keep the military-history nerd in me happy.
The questions are tough enough, even in the free section, to challenge both the novice and the knowledgeable history buff. As they progress though they sure do get harder!
And it’s that progression that makes the in-App buying options so smart. For only €0.79 you can upgrade the levels to reach 1 Star General status. After that it’s €2.39 a level OR you can choose to pay €5.99 for every level in one go (the levels go to 4 Star General) including the first one.
I have to admit, the App punctured many of my illusions about my knowledge base when it comes to military history, but I guess that’s a small downside when you learn so much along the way!
It’s a fine piece of work, it works smoothly and I hope it generates huge sales for Osprey who have a real can-do, will-do, try-anything spirit that’s hard not to admire in the modern publishing environment.
I’m sure they are working on the Sci-Fi & Fantasy version of the quiz too (Osprey also owns Angry Robot, a relatively new Sci-Fi & Fantasy imprint).
*It’s probably fair to note that I know one or two of the folks that work at Osprey well enough to have a chat at the odd Book Fair or over Twitter, but I’ve never worked for the company. I’ve written about them before a few times though.
Meant to talk about this before. Frankly it’s a sensible and savvy move, like nearly everything Angry Robot/Osprey do.
Why books need to be substantial in a digital environment I don’t now. In fact brevity may now be a key winning element. That’s mostly the logic behind my own recent titles at The Irish Story.
The pricing is keen too, which I think makes them even more tempting!
On December 1st 2010, Angry Robot will be launching “Nano Editions”. Exclusive to the publisher’s own webstore at angryrobotstore.com, Nanos are digital short stories by Angry Robot novelists, sold at sensible prices in ePub format, ready to load onto the world’s most popular eBook readers.
Most Nanos will be in the 5,000 – 15,000 word range. Shorter works than that will be automatically bundled with another story to ensure value for money.
Talking of which – stories will cost just 59p each (approximately US $0.95). Readers can bundle a collection of any 10 by any combination of authors, for only £3.49 (US$5.59). The files will be DRM-free and available worldwide. If demand for the stories takes off, AR plan to also sell them via eBook retailers.
via Introducing the new Angry Robot digital short story store :: Angry Robot Books.
I like Osprey. I think they are very smart operators and they know what they are doing and why. They have also built two very nice niche brands (Osprey and Shire) that are almost instantly recognizable in their markets, certainly by the kind of people who buy books and information in those spaces. So the news that they have bought the HarperCollins science-fiction and fantasy imprint Angry Robot is pretty exciting.
Here’s how Angry Robot put it:
Following an acclaimed first year of publishing, the revolutionary science fiction imprint Angry Robot Books has parted company with HarperCollins UK. It will now run as an independent publishing imprint, with the full backing of niche publishing experts, Osprey Publishing.
And here is what Osprey told us:
We at Osprey/Shire/Angry Robot (we are going to need a group name) are all about publishing for specialists, whether your specialism is Panzer variants, timber-framed buildings or zombie novels. We want to publish books (and not just books these days) for people who are enthusiastic, knowledgable and passionate about their interest whatever it is.
What this might mean?
Tor.com has made it clear since its foundation that emphasizing niche can be a successful strategy for reader engagement and Angry Robot is doing a good job of replicating that in the UK with their Robot Army. I’d love to see even more accessible content that just their great and active blog but what they do now is good.
In terms of strategy, Angry Robot is a strong and build-able brand. I’d expect to see more community features over time and perhaps even some kind of membership much as Osprey has created on their home site.
The bigger questions are for HarperCollins. The sale of Angry Robot leaves them with Voyager as their main Science-Fiction and Fantasy imprint. That’s a fine imprint but their engagement strategy is a little up in the air right now. They moved from a community site which I always felt was far too sales pitchy toward a more blog orientated site.
The new site is much better, both visually and in terms of reaching out to readers but it lacks the openness of Tor.com’s site. Unless they address that soon, I fear they may fall behind. When you consider their authors and the passion these superstars generate, this seems a shame. I think they could learn quite a bit from the imprint that have just sold off or simply by copying some of what Tor.com is doing.