Baen Books made my day.

2006-08-08 13:28

So, I finished reading some books I had lying around. And I realized that I wanted sequels.

It turns out most of the books Baen Books has put out in the last six years or so are available for purchase as ebooks from their WebScription service. Now, this service is pitched in terms of subscriptions, but you can go back and buy all the books. Most of them are between $4 and $6 — slightly less than the cost of a paperback.

The cool thing is this: These books are delivered in your choice of document formats, within reason. HTML, for instance, makes an excellent choice.

DRM? Hell, no. You bought the book. You have a book now. No stupid restrictions. You like iSilo better than MobiPocket Reader? Convert away. The text is unencumbered.

What this means is that, for $6, I didn’t just get the option of reading The Deed of Paksenarrion (one of my favorite fantasy trilogies) once. Or even “until that particular book reader isn’t supported”.

I have the text. I can make backup copies, I can convert to new formats. I don’t have to have some kind of special key to unlock it. In short, it’s like actually buying a book, not like renting one for a little while. I can read it on my computer, or on my PDA.

This is the way ebooks ought to be done, and I am glad to see someone had the vision to do it. Tragically, the man who made that vision happen is no longer with us; Jim Baen died on June 28th this year. But his legacy is with us, in a thriving science fiction industry, an ebook service that’s actually worth buying from, and a number of authors who might never have made it without his interest and support.

Peter Seebach