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.