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Discussion Starter #1
So "A Memory of Light," the final book in The Wheel of Time series just came out.  In hardcover.

Only in hardcover.

It's currently getting blasted with one-star reviews on Amazon complaining about the lack of ebook version, which has dragged its average review score down to 2.5.  I hope people aren't still saying that ebooks are a fad and customers don't really care about them.

EDIT: This wasn't some insidious move on the publisher's part.  This was at the request of Robert Jordan's wife.  I don't have an explanation as to why she made that request.  It's particularly odd because Brandon Sanderson is a big proponent of ebooks.
 

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Perhaps Sanderson is a bigger proponent of making money than he is for ebooks. ;) And as the widow, Jordan's wife has control of the IP. What she says goes. It could be that the publisher persuaded her or that she remembered how bright Jordan's eyes were when he got the first copy of the hardcover in his hands. Or a million other possible reasons. We may never know.
 

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Given the number of books and the weirdness of how it got finished. Post Jordan's death.  I bet it could have a negative star rating and only available on clay tablets and it will still sell.
 

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Kathelm said:
So "A Memory of Light," the final book in The Wheel of Time series just came out. In hardcover.

Only in hardcover.
Publishers have often released the dead-tree version months before the ebook in order to get those hardback sales. I'm not surprised.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
BrianKittrell said:
Perhaps Sanderson is a bigger proponent of making money than he is for ebooks. ;)
Counterpoint:

http://brandonsanderson.com/book/Warbreaker

He posted a draft of an in-work novel online for free, both to demonstrate the creative process and make a point about digital media. He posted multiple drafts as it went on, and the final, published copy is still available for free on his site. And that's despite being published by Tor and having had one of the biggest fantasy fanbases handed to him on a platter.

Publishers have often released the dead-tree version months before the ebook in order to get those hardback sales. I'm not surprised.
Apparently part of that is because the NYT Best Seller list doesn't count ebook sales.
 

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Kathelm said:
EDIT: This wasn't some insidious move on the publisher's part. This was at the request of Robert Jordan's wife. I don't have an explanation as to why she made that request. It's particularly odd because Brandon Sanderson is a big proponent of ebooks.
Robert Jordan's wife, Harriet McDougal, was his editor at Tor for a very long time, and is still an editor there.

So I can't really distance the publisher's actions in this case from the wife's request.

EDITED TO ADD: I bought the book in hardcover on the day it released. I've bought these books in hardcover, and then in paperback, and then in ebook. I am annoyed at the lack of ebook here. But you know, Brandon Sanderson did a darned good job finishing the series. And after the...holy crap...after the more than $500 I've spent on this series as a whole, the lack of an ebook is not as bad as the fact that books 9-11 are close to a million plotless words of people sifting weevils from grain and considering advancing the plot, before deciding to save it all for the next book.
 

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It actually looks like she wanted to delay the ebook release for a year initially, instead of the few months that it will actually be delayed. Wow.
 

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I am not a fan of WoT, but I am a fan of Sanderson. This is one of the main issues with review systems. It is a grave abuse of Amazon and a misrepresentation of the product. I hope they remove every review that commented on a lack of ebook version at release. It just shows the immaturity of people that they would do this kind of thing.
 

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http://www.thepassivevoice.com/01/2013/a-memory-of-light-gets-one-star-reviews-over-ebook-delay

"[Author Brandon Sanderson explains:] This is not my decision or Tor's decision, but Harriet's [Jordan's widow]. She is uncomfortable with ebooks. Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn't about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband's legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the Wheel of Time from hitting number one on either list."

Hmm.
 

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Dan Harris said:
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/01/2013/a-memory-of-light-gets-one-star-reviews-over-ebook-delay

"[Author Brandon Sanderson explains:] This is not my decision or Tor's decision, but Harriet's [Jordan's widow]. She is uncomfortable with ebooks. Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn't about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband's legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the Wheel of Time from hitting number one on either list."

Hmm.
So she thinks his legacy will be undermined if his book isn't number one, and that cutting out potential readers who can't afford the hardcover won't undermine it? Her thinking is strange.
 

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I can understand the frustration. Especially since I am now lugging the behemoth around. I just can’t wait for them to produce the e-book, I have to know the ending!!

Anyway, it is very strange. I have generated the e-book first for most of my stuff; then I make it “pretty” later for print distribution. While the book itself does not deserve the 1* reviews, this decision does, in my opinion. The world has changed.
 

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So basically, she doesn't think this book can compete with the other books on the bestseller list who do release e-books alongside their hardback books? Sounds like she doesn't have a lot of confidence in this book if she has to resort to stunts that have already been proven by the industry to alienate and annoy readers. Why not compete on a level playing field and keep the reader base happy at the same time?

Ironically, she said she wants to preserve her husband's legacy by trying to ensure another #1 bestseller. But withholding an ebook is not the way to do that - creating a quality product and making your fanbase and the general readership happy is the way. By pissing off a large portion of her audience, she likely has tarnished his legacy far more than not reaching #1 ever would. She should just stand behind the book and not worry so much about some ranking that the rest of the world could care less about.

I don't believe in using the review system to protest, but on the other hand, I understand that people don't feel their voice will be heard any other way. Reviews are supposed to be for other readers. But authors have manipulated them them to their own purposes by coaxing friends to review their books and buy buying reviews and doing review exchanges with other authors. Readers use reviews to communicate their frustration to publishers and authors in the only forum that anyone ever pays attention to. The reviews are no longer about helping other readers find the right book, they are tools of commerce on both ends, and thus, are rapidly becoming meaningless except to the players in the game.
 

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shelleyo1 said:
Publishers have often released the dead-tree version months before the ebook in order to get those hardback sales. I'm not surprised.
This is a good point. Publishers are largely giving up on hardbacks, but when they can be sold there's good money to be made from them. And many of Jordan's fans have to be older types who prefer paper/feel/smell/ etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
deckard said:
I think you are mistaken about this. Here is a link to the lists:
http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/overview.html

The lists include combined eBook and print, and separate fiction and nonfiction.

Deckard
Mrs. Jordan must be primarily concerned with the Hardcover list, as that was indeed the stated motive.

I have mixed feelings on the protest reviews. I'm not convinced that they're an abuse of a system. Why can't a review complain about the format? If "The Avengers" was released in VHS first and Blu Ray three months later, would people be wrong to write negative reviews? Should there be a separate category for non-content related reviews?
 

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Kathelm said:
I have mixed feelings on the protest reviews. I'm not convinced that they're an abuse of a system. Why can't a review complain about the format? If "The Avengers" was released in VHS first and Blu Ray three months later, would people be wrong to write negative reviews? Should there be a separate category for non-content related reviews?
While I often agree with the things people protest (as I do in this case), my main problem is that the reviews are supposed to help inform other readers about the book (product) so they can make a more educated purchasing decision. They are not supposed to be a tool that readers use to punish authors/publishers for their marketing decisions (or that authors use to make their book look deceptively better received than it may actually be). In addition, price and format availability change with time, making such reviews irrelevant as conditions change.

A separate category would never work because the people who post these reviews want to create the very effect that such a category would try to eliminate. They want to skewer the star ratings low so that the author/publisher will sit up and notice. Plus, we don't really need a review to tell us that the price is too high or that the ebook is not available. That information will be obvious to any purchaser. These reviews are meant to complain to the publisher/author, not to inform the consumer. If anything, they try to trick the consumer into thinking that the book is not as good as it might be by giving it a 1 star rating so as to affect sales of the book. That is why I think it is an abuse of the system.

I think the problem is that big publishers have made a habit out of ignoring the customer and making them feel that their voices are unimportant and ignored - if they ever are even heard at all. In this case, customers who prefer to read in electronic format feel like the editor is sending a direct message that they are somehow less important than customers who prefer hardcover. In such a climate, it is no wonder that readers want to strike out in a way that will actually get noticed - hitting where it hurts - in overall star reviews. And I can understand that. It is unfortunate that it corrupts the usefulness of the review system in the process.
 
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