Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Three ingredients for space travel

Here’s a fun post by Becky Chambers, over at tor.com: Three Ingredients for Space Travel

If you have the chance to go listen to a talk by an astronaut, and if there’s a Q&A afterward, there are three questions that I can pretty much guarantee will come up: What do you eat in space? Where do you sleep? And of course, the old standby—how do you go to the bathroom? The age of the audience is irrelevant, as is the topic of the talk. You might have just sat through an hour on the politics of space policy, or on the future of planetary exploration, but regardless, inevitably, there will be some curious audience member for whom a Google search is not enough. They must know, human to human, how daily necessities are handled when the stability of a planet has been removed from the equation….

My latest book, Record of a Spaceborn Few, is all about one specific home, so it’s unpacked slowly throughout. The reason this kind of set-dressing is so fundamental—whether I’m talking about my books or other books or the questions asked of astronauts—boils down to this:

The characters aren’t the only ones going on a journey. The audience is, too.

This book just came out yesterday. I’d like to read it, but I haven’t got it yet because when I clicked over just now, I found out it’s $11.99 for the ebook. Who thinks that is a good price … ah, Harper Collins. Well, it’s not a good price for an ebook. It’s a bad price. I wonder what proportion of all the people who would like to buy this book right this minute are putting it off because, like me, they are not keen on paying that much for an ebook?

Even Ilona Andrews newest … Iron and Magic, which promotes her secondary villain character Hugh d’Ambray to protagonist status … is half that. Ilona Andrews. Half that price. And who set that price? Ilona Andrews; this one is self-published.

No wonder self-published ebooks outcompete Big Five ebooks. It’s like a micro-lesson on economics right there.

I wasn’t necessarily going to get Iron and Magic because villain pov is not my favorite thing. But this looks like probably a redemptive character arc. That is my favorite thing. So, sure. Especially at that price.

Didn’t mean to segue into a post on ebook prices. I was just startled when I clicked over to Amazon to look for Record of a Spaceborn Few, and found it priced that high. Eventually I’ll pick it up, either when the price comes down, or when I am exactly in the mood for that one book and no other will do, or when prices for physical copies come down, or whenever.

Incidentally, you know what is half the price of Iron and Magic right now?

Officially out tomorrow, but available for preorder right this minute!

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10 Comments Three ingredients for space travel

  1. SarahZ

    I thought Iron and Magic did a good job with the redemption arc, and I think they recommend reading it before reading the last Kate book.

    If you haven’t come across it yet, I just read a book based on a recommendation from Ilona Andrews that really reminded me of the Others, except with a more romance-y focus:

    http://www.ilona-andrews.com/tsumiko-and-the-enslaved-fox/

    I really liked the first Wayfarers book, but haven’t gotten around to the second one yet – sometimes it really throws me when an author stays in the same world, but focuses on totally different characters each time.

  2. Allan Shampine

    I recommend Iron and Magic. I had exactly the same reaction you did when it came out – Hugh D’Ambray as a protagonist? Really? But it is absolutely a redemption arc, and a pretty good one.

  3. Elaine T

    Tsumiko and the fox, says the Teen sounds like a Japanese tale retold. FWIW. Said there’s a variant where the protagonist inherits a shrine. I thought the fox sounded an awful lot like Nix’s Mogget.

    I’ve downloaded the sample to try. And I expect Black Dog stories to automatically appear on my kindle at midnight tonight. :-)

  4. SarahZ

    It draws a lot from Japanese mythology (and takes place in Japan), so wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

  5. Evelyn M. Hill

    I was interested in Naomi Novik’s latest, but the ebook cost more than the paperback, and the paperback cost about $10.

    Considering that an ebook isn’t really bought just borrowed, I’m not feeling a pull to put down my money here. I put myself on the Library’s hold list instead.

    As opposed to another ebook that I hear is coming out shortly… but not shortly enough… taps foot impatiently

  6. Rachel Neumeier

    I’m glad to hear you all give a thumb’s up to Iron and Magic, cause I started it last night.

    And thanks for grabbing the latest Black Dog stories!

  7. Irina

    Ebooks should not be borrowed. DRM is evil. In the ideal case you should get a bundle of epub, mobi and PDF, all the files belonging to you (like Shira Glassman’s books on Gumroad, though I had to convert the mobi to epub myself).

  8. Herenya

    My first reaction to $11.99 was “Isn’t that just what traditionally-published ebooks cost?” However, due to the dollar value, and maybe taxes, books cost slightly more where I live. So the ebook for Record of a Spaceborn Few is $14.99 — and that definitely doesn’t sound like a good price. Not at all tempting! I’m waiting for it to be available from the library.

  9. Rachel

    I agree that ebooks you buy should count as bought, not as borrowed. I imagine if Amazon tried pulling a lot of books off a lot of kindles, the deafening outcry would put a halt to that in a hurry. I hope they wouldn’t try to do that. I admit I am far behind with putting all my kindle books on my laptop just in case anything like that should happen.

    Herenya, I don’t think it’s wise for traditional publishers to deliberately aim to price their ebooks way above self-published ebooks. And since the latter are basically eating the former for lunch, I think I am right.

    Fortunately Saga prices their ebooks more competitively — Winter and Mountain are both a more reasonable $7.99. I wish Random House would drop their ebook prices to that level.

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