Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

Ebook pricing and purchasing questions

As I continue to work on the ebook strategy for Clarkesworld Magazine, it find myself in need of more data. I’d appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to answer these questions:



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April Clarkesworld Magazine Ebooks


  1. I’m not actually going to buy an ebook for something I can read free on the internet – I might buy a physical chapbook, but not an ebook.

    • That’s fair. Would you buy an ebook edition to get it before it was available for free? If so, how far in advance?

      • I’m the same, although I put down a price. I bought the first collection and will buy the next. Probably wouldn’t pay for early copy as it takes me quite long to get around to reading things anyway.

      • Probably not – honestly I tend to read Clarkesworld in binges with most issues are read well after they were published. That’s my standard M.O. for most online mags. SCIFICTION was the one mag that I was queuing up to read as soon as it went online each week.

        (I do buy ebooks fairly often, just not for things I can get for free.)

        • Probably not – honestly I tend to read Clarkesworld in binges with most issues are read well after they were published. That’s my standard M.O. for most online mags.

          I second this. The other way I read online fiction is if it gets recommended to me by people whose tastes I trust, or turns up on an award shortlist.

          As and when I get a proper job, though, I will be paying for good online fiction to support it! 🙂

  2. I’d actually prefer to buy a year end collection in ebook format instead of individual issues, since I usually read individual stories online and anthologies/collections (when I have a moment to read a lot) on the ereader.

    Right now, because I have a Sony reader, I’m buying ebooks through the Sony store ( but that may change.

    • Good to know. Thanks. FYI, we will be continuing the anthologies and they will also be released in ebook form.

  3. Beginning with our next release, Paper Golem will be offering a free ePub version of each book we publish along with the sale of the paper version (TPB or HC).

    I’d like to continue buying HC versions of the Clarkeworld compilations, and I’m hoping you’ll consider giving away ebook versions along with it.

  4. I’d be more likely to buy direct if doing so meant that I could have it “delivered” to me automatically. If it’s not feasible to have the desired format copy itself emailed direct, perhaps just an email to a download page. Otherwise buying through Amazon is preferable to me only so that I know I’ve always got access to the content no matter what else goes on. So if my device dies and I have to redownload, it’s there whenever I want without too much work to find it.

    Of course, having all the issues in a year might discourage me from buying the year’s collection at the end, unless there was a bundle price or some kind of extra, a la the DVD bonus features to make it a bit more desirable.

    I don’t have an issue with paying for the luxury of reading it on my preferred reading platform, IE my Kindle. I understand why some won’t, but I think of it as a value add version of a direct donation.

  5. I don’t have a reader and I don’t like reading on my computer or phone. But I am planning on getting one, maybe Google’s once it’s out since they’re claiming their going to work with independent book sellers, and at that point, unless you are also selling through indie stores, I would buy directly from you.

  6. I like the subscription model – if there were a way to have it delivered or at least notified when the new issue was available.

    Also, as an “overseas” customer I’d rather buy directly from you, both to ensure I get the magazine as well as supporting you directly.

  7. My main concern in terms of where to buy is ease of loading it onto my reader (currently my iPhone), which is why I chose Amazon and Apple as the places I’d be most likely to buy from – I don’t know if the other stores will automatically load the file for me.

    I also agree with the other commenters who said that some kind of subscription model would be preferable.

    • Anonymous

      +1 for the subscription model. Perhaps adding extras or “premium content” to the e-books (author interview or commentary, earlier drafts, “deleted scenes”) might help the ebook stand apart from the free story as a distinct product?

      I’m watching and learning from your experience because we’re trying something similar on our new online zine Channel 37 ( We offer serial stories for free, chapter by chapter, on the site, and when they’re done we’ll ovver them as inexpensive e-books with cover art and extra features.

  8. Currently buy my sff zines at Fictionwise, also buy a lot through Apple, some books through BN and Amazon. Third biggest source for me is (Baen, mostly).

    Google has a link-up with indies like Kepler’s, so it’s worth considering.

  9. I would probably use Smashwords to purchase from, because I use if for our own publications and it means I can get any format I want, and access newer versions (ie: corrections) if they are made.

  10. I’m a paid subscriber to several online things, but I honestly just don’t understand the pay-for-ebook-when-it’s-free-online model. I don’t get what I would be paying for. The example you give above, of getting the edition early, wouldn’t be an incentive for me. I have too much to read already. Extra content, however, would be an incentive – I have a paid sub to a tech newsletter, for example, where you get less than half the stories in the free edition.

    • It is an artificial distinction, but although I would be unlikely to pay for an ebook of a magazine or other short work I could read online for free unless I was trying to help with a fundraiser, I would pay for a longer work (e.g. collection), having experienced the difference between epub and pdf for longer works on my handheld now. That said, I’m surprised at the numbers who are willing to buy from Amazon or Apple, because I’d rather buy direct from you (especially if the system keeps some record of my purchase as evilevil Audible does–already mislaid one ebook file I bought) and not have to play the dancing with DRM to get the damn file into my iFlow reader, and honestly I have an active dislike for Apple and Amazon and their monopolistic ways. I’d rather buy direct in the case of small publishers than through a reseller because I see no reason to make the small publisher earn less money. I will buy big press books through resellers though, because I don’t have the emotional attachment to sustaining big presses. I will note that if the book is something I really, really like, or expect to really, really like, I’ll want to get it signed, so I’ll wait and buy hardcover in person. But if it is something I’m not sure if I’ll like, or I want to read it soon and its something silly, like a videogame novelization by an author I reliably enjoy, I’ll buy an ebook, because I already have deadtree versions of some of his “real” books. So my mentality is that I’ll buy an ebook of something I think of as disposable, but something I can see wanting to get signed and keep around as a memento, I’ll want hardcopy. Although bundle hardcopy/ecopy deals interest me, because I try not to be hard on books, but I have bad luck, and I’ve been gentle with the limited edition books I have (although a few have minor issues because stuff just happens), but I hate owning things I can’t read on the train without worrying. There’s book as object vs book as tool. And I guess I want to have fewer books as tools (which I ultimately discard unless they’re by favorite writers or get signed and personalized, in which case, like the Velveteen Rabbit, they become “real”) and a few more books as objects, although I’m starting to realize that some of those may need to go away, as the china cabinet where books as objects live is getting full.

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