NEW AND UPCOMING BOOKS

Future formats, Robot Business

Stretchy, bouncy, floppy pricing

Stretching the price to meet your needs
Stretching the price to meet your needs
What are they worth, these words we’re going to publish?

Without getting too theoretical, one of the things I want to know with this business is what the value of the formats we’ll be putting our words out in really is. Sure, we kinda know a UK paperback is worth somewhere between £6.99 and £7.99, and we kinda know a hardback comes in anywhere between £12.99 and £20. But what we don’t really know is what other kinds of content-usage is worth? How much would you want to pay for an ebook, or a digital audio version, or a 500 copy only signed hardback? Sure, we have guides, but they’re rarely driven by clear, broad, market dynamics the way the price of a regular book is, or a pint of milk.

So … we’re going to screw around with things. Experiment. We’re going to test out some classic economics, straight out of the textbook to establish what pricing means for all these different uses of content we want to deliver.

And what that means is that YOU will be driving the price, just the way it should be – because if you don’t buy it, we’re not pricing it right, so we’ll have to try again…

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Uncategorized

Angry human; dead avatar. No robot.

David Pescovitz over at BoingBoing picks up on a story reported over on Yahoo about a Tokyo woman facing conviction for killing off her virtual husband.

Are such things the inevitable middle-class outcomes of the soft-side of the MMO world, where “relationships” spring-up in instants, and can be thrown away just as easily. The woman in this case may be facing a 5 grand fine, but better this than the more deeply worrying gold farming black economy that have developed in MMO culture?

A great post over at Private Sector Development Blog takes a different view – that the virtual sweatshop of the gold farmer is better than the real sweatshop of the retail giants.

Returning to the original point about the general rise in trade of services through the internet, gold farming is only one stage of development in an increasingly complex set of economic relationships. As internet infrastructure spreads further in the developing world, entrepreneurs will take advantage of low wages to outsource more complex (and perhaps better paid) online services to China and elsewhere.

It’s difficult to see the pattern – a virtual repetition of real and untenable deprivation, or a step forward in the intertwined development of emerging economies and the internet?

Either way, there are stories waiting to jump out of this. Tell us what they are.

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Angry Robot Media

Hot or Not?

I admit it, I’ve watched Ghost in the Shell too many times.

I was never a BladeRunner fan – something about it always made me want to fall asleep, though that may have been perpetually watching it half-cut at 3am when I was younger. But Ghost in the Shell? That got me, with it’s “past man, past machine” schtick. But when you see the prosaic reality underneath the philosophising, it’s both deeply disappointing and MORE disturbing than any movie. This Actroid female robot is like some kinda botox freak out of LaLaland done as only Japan can – machinated, miniaturised and perfected. Pointless but wonderful:

[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=WbFFs4DHWys]

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General

Nods head repeatedly and cries “Yes yes yes”

It’s rare at the moment to read a debate about science fiction and agree so wholeheartedly with most of it, but SF Signal’s current mind-meld on “The Future of Written Science Fiction” had me nodding so vigorously I almost sued myself for whiplash injuries. The question of what happens to the literature of the future when the future actually arrives seems to be exercising some writers and editors rather a lot at the moment. For some, that means writing SF gets harder (Charles Stross recently opined that for him it now verges on the impossible); for others, that one’s vistas just have to go out further.

Personally, I think it is the calling of SF writers, and possibly even their duty, to go that bit further out, to imagine a future based on current concepts, not those of five/ten/twenty years ago, to boldy blow our minds once more.

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Future formats, Kill Em All!

Here’s a funny one

Once upon a time there was a respected traditional book publisher who really, really got the concept of ebooks, they said. Who decided they would be the market leader in ebooks, would offer all their new titles in the various ebook formats as standard, right now.

Only… where a book was only available in hardcover, they priced their ebook equivalent to the hardcover, and only when the book came out in mass-market did they lower the price to the same as the paperback edition.

Perhaps they thought no one would notice. I don’t mean notice that they are giving every appearance of being money grabbing twerps, by the way. I mean, notice that they really, really don’t get the whole idea of ebook editions at all.

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Angry Robot Media, General

Simon & Schuster head east for genre kicks

pehov
pehov
S&S in the UK announced via theBookseller today that they’ve acquired Alexey Pehov’s Chronicles of Siala trilogy for,

a pre-emptive six figure sum

The emerging BRIC economies should be fertile territory for genre – there’s stuff taking place in the wildfire of those hyperspeed capitalist environments Western writers have barely dreamed of. And it needs telling, or re-telling into amazing parables of the future or the mythic past.

I can’t work out if Pehov is the man to do that for Russia – and if you can work it out from his website, well, your Russian’s better than mine. But I hope he’s the sign of great things to come both from the BRIC countries, and all across the (to us at least) uncharted global territories of genre publishing.

Got something amazing? We’re looking.

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Angry Robot Media

Fable II, and the genre genius of Peter Molyneux

Peter Molyneux is one of the games industry auteurs people have been slowly been learning to think of in the same way we think about Film boys like Spielberg: commercial geniuses whose talent comes in large part from organising and enabling other peoples creativity as much as expressing their own. So when Molyneux, who these days runs Lionhead, turns to Fantasy themes to place his games, we should be interested (and are! Well, I am anyways…).

Fable II, released yesterday is a big moment. Partly because Fable I, as Molyneux himself admitted, was a disappointment; partly because of Molyneux’s well versed promo hype, but mostly because Fable feels different to most Fantasy-based gaming – less war and puzzle based, more explorative and evolutionary. Looser. Watch the trailer:

[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=0hR8dYK0MPE&feature=related]

One of the things we want to do with Angry Robot is look at new opportunities for story-telling – i’m really excited to see (today!), what Molyneux and his crew are doing to take the genre forwards.

UPDATE: Cnet for one think it’s the game of the year

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Future formats

Neal Stephenson, you utter bastard

I don’t really think he’s an utter bastard, of course. In fact, I adore Neal Stephenson. He’s a wonderful writer, more than prepared to take on immense sweeping subjects and deliver in spades. Which means his damn books are immense buggers. Which means I have a cinderblock-sized copy of Anathem glowering heftily at me from the Must Read Soon pile.

And I’m looking at it, and it’s looking back at me, and I’m thinking to myself… what with work reading, and the day job, and the kids, and movies and hobbies and just that thing I do where I just sit and drink myself senseless… the only way I’m going to be able to read that sucker is if I have a massive plane trip coming up. Which I do, luckily enough, with World Fantasy Con in Calgary, Canada in a couple of weeks. But I ain’t lugging anything that weighs as much as all my clothes together across the Atlantic no matter how wonderful a read it’s gonna turn out to be.

And it’s at this point that I finally realised that even a curmudgeonly, luddite old “I’d rather sit in my armchair with a nice glass of something and a proper book, thank you” type like me really, really needs an e-reader. Which I take to mean that if even I want one, the time has come. How ’bout you?

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Uncategorized

Where to buy your Robots

We love robots, obviously, otherwise why the hell the crazy name?

But sometimes you don’t just need to idly love robots from a-far, you need to BUY them. So whilst the global economy falls apart, and whilst we don’t have any books-n-stuff for you to buy, why not lavish your remaining liquidity on the finest robots purchasable via the whirlwhywib?

The Robot Shop is that place, selling a plethora of robotics, from complex science class stuff to R2s to Robbie the Robot posters.

Or alternatively, buy “I, Robot“, unquestionably HarperCollins finest publication with “Robot” in the title. Come to think of it, they were pretty angry too…

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Uncategorized

Why start a new genre business?

I spent 6 months telling senior management at HarperCollins that the SciFi and Fantasy genre was in a period of transition. That things were changing we needed to respond to with smart, up-to-date ways of reaching the passionate, intelligent readers who consume this kind of stuff. And that there was a whole batch of next-generation readers out there we could reach if we did things differently. Read More

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General

What is the sound of an Angry Robot?

It’s important to set a context for the trip ahead, and whilst this business is all about words, it still needs a soundtrack.

So what would an Angry Robot listen to? We know that just plain ol’Robots dig Kraftwerk, the man-machine metronomes. And we can assume that self-hating Robot’s Rage Against the Machine. But if I was an Angry Robot right now, I’d be optimistic, and excited about the trip ahead, channeling the Angry-ness – so who better than the mighty, wide-eyed and wonderful Yeasayer to set the tone?  

I saw this on Pitchfork this morning, and as we start thinking about the first Angry Robot releases in Summer 2009, this is a hell of an anthem.

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Events

Robots on the march, pt.2

It’s almost time for World Fantasy Con, the best little convention we ever did attend. This year we have the rare treat of a trip to Calgary, Canada, for a few days of chat, beer, reunions, beer, panels, beer, beer and some drinking too. Attending this year for Angry Robot will be Marc G, AR Publishing Director, and Chris Michaels, the official HarperCollins special publishing strategy and future mad ideas genius guy (no really; he has to have a special fold-out business card and everything).

If you’re attending, come and say hi, sell us a couple of books, look us square in the eye and deny our powers are only being used for good. If you’re not, hell, what’s your sorry-ass excuse? Jack in your sucky job, put the kids in hock for a week, get there by paddle steamer or floatplane or huskies or kayak but get there. Aaaanyway, we’ll be in from Thursday October 30th and shipping out mid-Monday November 3rd, so track us down.

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Robots at large

Robots rrrock

While watching BBC1’s Imagine documentary tv show, on the history of the rock guitar the other night, my mind was severely boggled by a nifty little number from The Tornados, of “Telstar” fame… Robot. Erm yeah, like, swinging daddio.

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Events

Robots on the march pt.1


This coming weekend, the Angry Robot crew will be rampaging down to the sleepy town of Northampton (the UK one). Why? Oh pshaw — it’s only flipping Newcon 4! Along with the mighty Iain Banks, who’ll be bringing his M with him, there’ll be the usual marvellousness from Paul Cornell, Ken McLeod and the crepuscular Storm Constantine, plus a whole heap of further sfnal and fantastical goodness. The venue — the town’s old fishmarket, now an arts centre — is ideal for a small but smart convention, and the organisers, the Ians Watson and Whates, are such darlings it’s almost impossible not to have fun. See you there and yes, we are buying.

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