Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rambling on eReaders/eBooks

I am currently reading, Slaine: The Exile, which is a novel tie-in with a comic. (The comic comes from Britain’s 2000AD line.) The novel came out in 2006, and a sequel followed in 2007. The novel was published by Black Flame, who were a division of BL Publishing. (Their main arm is Black Library, who publish the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 novels.) Black Flame published media tie-in novels. In addition to 2000AD titles, they also novelized some movies into novel series.

I thought about buying the second Slaine novel, but then decided to wait until I read the first novel. Black Flame folded in 2007. As a result, the second Slaine novel, Slaine: The Defiler, is already rare. Now, the first novel isn’t sending me into the stratosphere (more on that in a review post later,) but I’d be curious to go on to the second novel, but not at the prices out there.

"What do you mean I'm out-of-print?!"

Another title they novelized was Fiends of the Eastern Front, a series about vampyrs in the Russian-German front of World War II. There was a trilogy, which in true BL Publishing fashion, wound up in an omnibus. I never did grab a copy, and those are gone too.

Foiled again by “out-of-print”!

Or am I?

I was poking around Wikipedia yesterday, and learned that BL Publishing sold off the 2000AD novels of Black Flame to another company, Rebellion Developments, in 2009. Rebellion have made the titles available as eBooks.

I hopped over to Amazon, and checked the Kindle Store.

Sure enough, the titles are there. They seem reasonably priced - $5.59 per novel.

This perfectly illustrates one of the aspects of eReaders/eBooks that I am most excited about. They can make out-of-print books available. I love hunting used book stores, and if I really want something, I’ll try eBay or ABE Books. But, what if it’s just something I want to try, I’m not sure of the quality? What if the book is so rare, I just can’t get a hold of it?

Imagine all those yellow spine DAW books, Karl E. Wagner’s Kane stories, Robert Adams Horseclans, Sadler’s Casca or the Falcon series by “Mark Ramsay” (house author started by John Maddox Roberts) being available with a mere download.

I grant that Rebellion had an advantage with Black Flame. The Black Flame books, being so new, probably were already on a computer and just needed a formatting pass to make them eReader ready. Older books will require some upfront time and money to be transcribed to computer. I have no idea what it costs a publisher to bring an older book online, but I would hope it would be recovered with a minor amount of sales. (Need to keep the cost attractive.) But it doesn’t cost them printing or warehouse space, certainly.

Will more out-of-print (but not public domain) titles become more and more available via eReaders?

Time will tell. I, for one, certainly hope so!