UPDATE: Tor.com becomes an imprint in itself!
The front page of the Tor.com store
If you watched the Mike Shatzkin video (it has shuffled to new quarters now and offers a very fancy annotation system) I linked to last weekend about the digital shift, this news makes perfect sense. I wrote some time ago about the differences between the Tor.com community and the less developed Voyager books community, well now, Tor have taken a further giant leap ahead and launched a new store for the web community that they say:
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!