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.
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.
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 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.
I’ve dissed Authonomy a little in the past, but this really is a clever idea:
We’re giving you the chance to have your short story published in Lauren (Beukes)‘s next book, Zoo City. In order to enter, all you need to do is write a short story (up to 3000 words) based in the Moxyland universe, using characters, themes and settings from the book to create your own work.
They have more on their blog. Lauren is the author of the Angry Robot published novel, Moxyland. But the smarts start on Authonomy otslef, firstly it has an extensive book page for Moxyland and a faily decent author page for Lauren (though this could easily have had a video and some more features, given the competition). And then they use the power of HarperCollins’ Browse Inside toolkit to display the entire text. That is brave.
I’d be hard pressed to find an issue with this project (other than the minor one I’ve already mentioned). It’s not just that Harper are embracing Fan Fiction and encouraging it even, but they have added real value to Authonomy by doing this. They have used clever cross platform tools to bring a really worthwhile competition to the Authionomy community and have, I think, created one of the most compelling and engaging promotions so far this year. All told, praise if deserved.
I’m enjoying my last day of being 29, successfully made a very big Beef Bourguignon! Eoin
offers science fiction and fantasy media from most major publishers—the only requirement is that the books in question relate to the genre in some form or another. In keeping with the spirit of our “…And Related Subjects” tagline, we’ve made sure to be as inclusive as possible, and are going to be constantly updating and refining the selection of titles available in the Store.
Frankly, this is a game changing move and here is why. Tor has succeeded in capturing a great deal of attention relating to science fiction and fantasy in the online space. They have done this organically by offering decent services and interesting content to fans of the genres. Now they are adding, not so much a commercial layer as a further service to their members. The community is already buying books, they are already reading about books they might wish to buy on Tor.com. By offering a way to get these books to the community they have made life easier for the community members, at a stage when those members have already become used to allocating a great deal of their attention to Tor.com.
Naturally (and so long as prices are reasonable) they will use the site to buy books and not resent the fact that Tor will benefit. What’s more, Tor don’t need to clutter their site with lots of ads for books, links in CONTEXT will suffice. I’ve several times read reviews of books then had to leave the site to find a copy for sale, an in content link would have saved me time, hassle and probably money.
We’ll see more of this
I have long felt Tor.com was a sensible and exciting model for genre fiction publishers, in much the same way as Osprey’s site seems to be for military history. I have little doubt we will see other publishers try and develop sites with similar features. I wonder will they get the central message of Tor.com which is that only by loosening control and offering something that the community values will you progress in the digitally shifted world?
Who knows, it will sure be interesting to see how it develops! Eoin
You might wonder why I hate something that is such good value. E-books of sci-fi books I am almost sure to enjoy for the startlingly low price of $1?
Simply put, because I cannot buy them
I know its selfish, it is hardly Orbit US’ fault, but I was so excited by the idea I went straight to the website and tried to buy something, I mean ONE DOllAR. I am technically banned from buying any books until I read nine books from my newly acquired list of TBR, but an e-book is not a paper book and a dollar is nothing! And then the book was one I have spied in several places and thought “now that looks good”. BUT I couldn’t buy it, I was restricted by territoriality!
Funnily enough this is touched on today by bigger news here & here.
As a publisher I should care about this but as a consumer I just think what a freaking waste of my time, effort, attention and interest. Now I hate a thing that I should have loved! This nonsense will just have to stop, I cannot see territoriality of e-books lasting very long but that probably means it will last for ever!