[LMB] GJ&RQ review

Zan Lynx zlynx at acm.org
Mon Nov 2 21:46:42 GMT 2015

On 11/02/2015 01:56 PM, Pamela Weber wrote:
> I just bought Gentleman Jole ebook from Baen's website
> <http://www.baenebooks.com/>, an hour ago. Very confused about the February
> 2016 release date but not about to look a not-quite-gift-horse (15 bucks)
> in the mouth.
> Is e-book not considered an "actual book"? Did Baen mess up the release
> date for the ebook? If they did, I will NOT give back my copy. Yet. Until
> I'm done reading. Which I will be in... let's say three hours at the rate
> I'm reading :D
> In any case, the first four chapters are available at that same website to
> wet your appetite.

It is an ARC. Advanced Reader (or Review) Copy. It does not count as
official publication. It is more like a beta release.

Originally ARCs were run off in paper with cheap paper, ink, etc. and
sent to book reviewers at purchasers so that they could write articles
and reviews of the book to generate prerelease buzz and so that reviews
would be available on the publication date.

Baen decided to start selling the ARC because there was a LOT of demand.
Some reviewers would read their ARC copy and then sell it on eBay or
just mail it to friends. There were entire book rings dedicated to
reading and mailing ARCs around. Selling access to electronic ARCs is
easy money for Baen.

Computer games have been doing this too for a few years. Pay extra for
the collector's edition and get early access to the Beta as well. But
the game's official release date is still the non-Beta release date.

The Internet is going to make this more and more difficult to figure out
for awards like the Hugo. Many popular self-published authors release
their very early writing on sites like Facebook or LiveJournal. Then
they rewrite all of it and release it to their beta readers. Which might
be anyone that is interested enough to sign up and promise to give them
useful feedback. Most independent authors don't do ARCs but I would bet
that some do. Then it is published with Amazon. Then it might be updated
with typo corrections, formatting fixes, etc.

With something like that the official publication date is pretty much
whatever the author says it is.

Thinking about it however, it isn't much different from old-style
publishing. As I recall, Lois Bujold's Falling Free was released as a
magazine serialization which has its own publishing date(s). Then it was
released as a single novel. I am not clear on what type of work it
counted as, or what publication years it would have counted as. Could it
have been nominated for awards twice as two different things? I am not sure.

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