Friday, February 08, 2008

Something New From Tor!

Something new from Tor.

At the Christmas party a year+ ago, one of our high corporate guys pulled editors Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and myself aside and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if...!!!”


In this case the “if” is...well, something I'm not suposed to spell out at the moment -- which I don’t quiet understand but, anyway -- it involves, among other things, me being able to work with more artists and talking about art to a larger audience and that has me excited. It’s been a mostly fun year seeing it evolve from bar-talk into a reality. We just put a pre-registration page up, so, sign up! Early and often! If you do, you’ll get free ebooks from out most popular series every week until we go live. I believe the first two up are Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, with many more to come.

20 comments:

Carl V. said...

You don't have to twist my arm. Done! And how nice that the over 30s age category is simply that. No need to rub a person's age in. Once you hit 30, we're all in the same boat. ;)

Tracy said...

Whatever it is going to be, is going to be fun if it involves art, books and fantasy....sci/fi too!

I am there......in duplicate and more!

Thanks Irene and all ya'll at TOR.

Tracy

Ankalagon said...

I registered, but got no newsletter on my email. How's that?

Irene Gallo said...

Carl - I knew you;d be first in line, being equally passionate about books and the art, you'll love it.

Thanks, Tracy!

Ankalagon: You know, I’m not entirely sure but I believe the links to pick up the books will all be emailed out on a set day each week. I’ll check up on that Monday but I bet you’ll get something in your email next week.

Deborah K. White said...

Thanks. I've signed up, and I'll pass this information on to my SF/F-reading friends.

I know this isn't something you personally deal with, but those free ebooks got me thinking. I live in a small town with one little bitty bookstore with few selections. On the other hand, sites like Amazon have too many sci-fi/fantasy novels to slog through. I also don't buy unless I've read a few pages, so my book buying habit as given way to re-reading my old books.

Would publishers like TOR consider having a e-mail "newsletter" that goes out every time a new book is released? I'd love to see the cover, the back cover blurb, and the first 5 pages to first chapter of books as they come out. I guarantee a service like this would start me buying novels again.

Fred Kiesche said...

Sounds good, but I'll point out that Tor's corporate parent got all wobbly on a paid eBook service (partnering with Baen) about a year ago...I would have paid for a whole lot of Tor titles by now if that hadn't been quashed.

Free is good. But sending Tor money is better.

Irene Gallo said...

Sorry, Fred, but we're planing on giving lots away for free. ;-)

Deborah - I think there is a way to see first chapters once the books are published, But I haven't paid attention as to where they are. Amazon or on our own site? I'll ask about that. In the meantime, the newsletter should help pint to some of our new titles. And our corporate site, www.tor-forge.com, features each month's offerings.

Yaron said...

Irene, please let your contacts in Tor know that this registration page needs some workout. Sorry for posting semi-technical comments here, but there's no obvious contact address on the current site there, and you are connected...

1. The character "+" is legitimate as a part of an email address, and they shouldn't reject addresses that contain it.

2. Once the form runs the validation routine, it automatically keeps a cookie with a value indicating that the person already registered. This happens even if the registration failed (such as, e.g. if the email address was not valid).
When trying to correct the error, and register again, this does not allow the registration attempt to proceed. In my case I had to erase the cookies manually, and try again, after which the registration completed fine.
This is very bad behaviour. When the validation checks failed, you shouldn't stop the person from correcting and trying again.

3. In the previous case, the error displayed to the user is entirely unhelpful. The message doesn't say that the user is already registered (not true, but at least relevant to the cause for showing the message), but instead goes "We cannot register you at this time, but please check back in a few weeks for some great science fiction. Thanks!".
Friendly, but entirely unhelpful and confusing.

4. If all the fields are required, there's no point marking them all with an asterisk and then adding in the bottom a line saying that asterisks represent "required" fields. Better to have a comment stating that all fields are required.

5. They really need to put some more information about what is it that they plan to do there. Personally I didn't have a problem with the current language, but that's because I know Tor (that is, buy and read books they publish) for a long time.
Otherwise, it would have been a little mystifying. The page asks to register for... something. And doesn't say anything about that something, instead just promises rewards (the free e-books and such) for whoever registers.
That's a design that you usually find on fake sites trying to get email addresses, or personal details of people, instead of something done by serious organizations.
They should say what do they plan to do with the site, and if the purpose of the registration is just to let people know when the site is up, or if they'd have actual content/news/reports/etc (The ebooks don't count here, since currently they are presented as an extra, not the purpose of the mailing list on registration), and what are registered people supposed to get on the site when it's done and up.

I do like and appreciate the intent, and from what I understand they mostly deserve a "keep up the good work". It's just that the actual implementation is a little lacking for now, which is a pity.

Yaron said...

And while I'm at it, I also didn't receive anything on the email address I registered with.

The probable explanation you gave ankalagon does make sense.
But it's a good practice to at least send an initial email to someone who registered, if only just to make it clear that the registration did indeed pass successfully, and that the address is correct and working.

Tor are trying to do a good thing here, I think, but they shuold make it look like it as well.
Judging a company/service by how the main page on their website look and behaves like may be problematical, but it's not all that different from, well, judging a book by its cover. Which, I'm sure you know, almost everyone does.
So Tor should take the functionality and design a little more seriously. It matters.

Irene Gallo said...

Hi Yaron,

Thanks for the heads-up on the technical issues. I passed the word on to the programming guys. I believe some are fixed already.

As for our evasiveness, I am truly sorry we weren’t able to say more. I’ll quote my more articulate co-worker, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, on the matter, “...it’s part of a general initiative bent toward figuring out how to use our skills, earn our livings, and do cool stuff in the world of the future internet. I won’t make wild claims that we won’t make any mistakes (or that we’re not making any right now!)”

I’m not sure if its apocryphal or not, but, I’ve heard people quote my boss, Tom Doherty, as saying “What’s good for science fiction is good for Tor.” (It certainly sounds like Tom.) You could say we are using that as a business model on this new venture and we are trying to build something that is good for science fiction.

Yaron said...

Hi Irene,

Thanks for passing on the comments.

Well, I suppose it's quite possible that Tor have the prestige, and the respected/known people, to allow themselves to succeed with something that would have been terrible for a newcomer.

It's just that, if I hadn't known about Tor and some of the people behind it, this vague handling would have felt very smoke-and-mirrors in style.
But as it is, lots of good luck. I definitely support whatever may be good for SF, and don't at all mind if it will be good for Tor as well.

Fred Kiesche said...

Hmmm...you might want to pass on to the programmer types that a whole bunch of us (myself and about two dozen people I know) have signed up and we haven't seen any confirming e-mails...so we're all wondering if we should sign up again!

Looking forward to it all!

(And I hope to see more art-related podcasts...maybe Bob Eggleton? How about Stephen Martinere? Oh! Oh! Ralph McQuarrie! Bob Berkey! Wayne Barlowe! Can you tell I buy a lot of SF art books?)

Irene Gallo said...

Hi Fred,

I am told that everyone will be getting confirmation by way of an first email with links to the first book. That should happen sometime Friday. If that doesn't come through by the weekend, let me know.

As to the podcasts: That is totally my fault. They gave me a recorder six months ago and I keep setting up meetings with artists...and then I get really shy. I'm off to Boskone and then LunaCon - I'm determined to get over it!

Yaron said...

Hi Irene,

A bit late, but I figured it would be polite, and possibly useful for anyone who stumbles into this page, to mention that Tor did start to send emails on the first Friday with both a confirmation of the registration to the site, and links to the giveaway books.

I do already own, and have read, the actual paper copies of the books for the second and third week, but that just says whoever does the picking have a taste I like. :-)

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