The Hugo Packet

The decision by Orbit Books UK not to include any of their nominated books in the Hugo Voter Packet is truly ridiculous. When Tor include ebooks of all fifteen volumes of the Wheel Of Time in the packet while Orbit include precisely no books (against the authors’ wishes), one of those publishers has the right idea, and one definitely doesn’t…

What they fail to understand is that the Hugo Packet doesn’t lose a single sale, and probably gains a lot. It only goes, by definition, to those people who are most interested in written SF/F. Those people will have already bought those books on the list that they’re going to buy — for example, I bought Charles Stross’ Neptune’s Brood (one of the books Orbit are not making available) in the week of release. I did not, however, buy the Ann Leckie or Mira Grant books because they didn’t seem my kind of thing.

I would, however, have read those books had they been included in the packet, and it’s entirely possible that I would then have gone out and bought other books by those authors as a result.

I know that “give your stuff away for free” is never a particularly clever business strategy normally, but *surely* everyone can see the benefit of “get your book in front of 2000 or so of the biggest customers in the world for that genre”?

People don’t, for the most part, get the Hugo Packet as a way to get free books — Worldcon membership, even associate membership, costs a lot more money than clicking a button on a torrent site. It’s so that they can give a reasonable chance to those books they haven’t read when voting. As it is, I’ll be forced to rank “no award” above the Leckie and Grant novels, because I’d only be reading them in the first place out of a sense of fairness, and I certainly don’t intend to pay money for books I suspect I wouldn’t want to read.

ETA Just to make it clear, I do not think this is an immoral decision on Orbit’s part, nor do I think Hugo voters are entitled to free books, nor do I think this is something for which Orbit deserves punishment. I think it is a stupid decision, and one which they will regret. That is not the same thing. I will certainly not be joining in the ridiculous calls to boycott Orbit. I’m commenting on what seems to be a bad decision, not joining in the fan entitlement.

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6 Responses to The Hugo Packet

  1. Cat says:

    You can probably get them at the local public library, thus giving them a fair shake without rewarding Orbit for its bad behavior.

    Buying my supporting membership was a stretch for me, and I filled out ILL forms at my local library this afternoon. I’m hoping they can get me everything before voting time. (I live in a rural area and our library lives in a building slightly smaller than my house.)

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      In my case I can’t use the library for a rather simple reason. Every time — and I do mean every time, without fail — I borrow books from the library I end up forgetting to take them back, or losing them, and rack up fines greater than the cost of the books themselves. This happened so often and cost me so much that it worked out considerably cheaper just to buy books.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Incidentally, I don’t think Orbit have behaved *badly* here, or deserve punishment. I think they’ve behaved *stupidly* from a business point of view, but I’m not protesting against their decision, nor do I think it’s an immoral one. I just think it’s counterproductive for them.

      • Cat says:

        I bought my supporting membership in the belief that the voters packet would continue to contain the bulk of the works in question, as it has for the past six years. I have to pick and choose my hardback purchases pretty carefully, for bugetary reasons. The combination may mean that I am more annoyed than most would be. But I feel like I shelled out my money in good faith only to discover Orbit basically saying “you’ll have to spend more than you bargained for, but you wouldn’t want to put these writers at an unfair disadvantage, WOULD you?”

        And I’m like “No, actually, I don’t have to spend more than I bargained for; I will find some way to make this fly anyway, and by the way I’m not happy about the way you are holding some of my friends hostage and handing an undeserved advantage to the other writers in this contest.” Who owe Orbit a couple of very nice thank you notes, with flowers, and possibly chocolates, in my opinion.

        If the library doesn’t work for you, I understand–I have in the past had my own troubles remembering to get things back in a timely way–and I guess buying the books is your best bet. You may be able to find them at your local used book store; mine often gets hardbacks in, sometimes remarkably soon after publication.

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          I agree that the other writers owe Orbit a huge thanks, and that the three writers whose books are unrepresented definitely don’t.
          At least we should get most or all of the Retro-Hugo books to vote on…
          And I think an appropriate, proportional, response would be to not nominate Orbit’s books in future years. Not as a punishment, but as a way to ensure that the votes in future years are biased as little as possible by books being unread.

    • Last time I tried to get inter-library loans through my local public library (in England), they said they’d charge me £10 per book. I assume ebooks or paperbacks of most novels would cost less than that. We all know who is ultimately to blame for this sort of thing, but mentioning her name would unnecessarily attract lots of trolls.

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