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Tor.com eBookstore Turns One

tor.com logoIt’s been just under a year since Macmillan announced plans to launch an ebookstore at Tor.com, and what a year it’s been.

This ebookstore, which was one of Macmillan’s two major DRM-free efforts of 2012, got a lot of attention last year. The Tor.com ebookstore broke with the much of the rest of the publishing industry and had a novel goal of selling DRM-free Epub ebooks directly to customers.

It was going to sell all of the frontlist and (available) backlist titles from Tor, Forge, Orb, and other imprints by the SF publisher Tor/Forge Books. No major publisher had made a similar effort, so I was eager to see if this ebookstore could succeed at selling ebooks and (more importantly) making customers happy.

Admittedly, it hasn’t actually been a year since this ebookstore was announced, but with BEA 2013 kicking off tomorrow I thought that now would be the right time to look back and chart this ebookstore’s success.

Or rather its lack of success.

The thing is, Macmillan may have announced the ebookstore but they never actually got around to launching that ebookstore. Sure, there is an announcement and there is even a page on tor.com, but that page still shows the same placeholder image it showed last year:

tor.com eboosktore summer 2012

I think they may have missed the window by a little bit, don’t you?

So what happened to the ebookstore? I don’t know.

When I realized today that the launch had never happened I queried Tor.com and Tor/Forge and asked for an update. I have not yet received a response, nor even an acknowledgement that they might get back to me. If I do get more info I will add to this post, but at this point it looks to me like the planned ebookstore may have fallen by the wayside.

Update: A reader has pointed out that Tor UK has an ebookstore on the PanMacmillan website (thanks, RobC!). IMO that makes it doubly curious that Tor.com never launched an ebookstore.

P.S. I seem to recall that back in 2008 Macmillan had talked big plans about launching their own ebookstore. Does anyone remember what happened to those plans? I don’t recall that there was ever a launch, but I could be wrong.

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Comments


cookie May 27, 2013 um 10:28 am

Who is Macmillan fooling. Fold up before you sink any money into that pit.


Gary May 27, 2013 um 10:53 am

I really don’t understand the secrecy.

They announced that they were going to open their own ebook store. Then, nothing.

When 6 months of silence had gone by after the proposed opening date, it was obvious that the bookstore plan had been cancelled. Why then is is so hard to make a simple announcement to that effect?

Nate Hoffelder May 27, 2013 um 11:07 am

I would describe it as silence, not secrecy, but that would be helpful, yes.

Right now everyone remembers that the ebookstore was announced and assumes that it was eventually launched (here’s one example).


igorsk May 27, 2013 um 11:35 am

Tor ebooks are listed on http://us.macmillan.com/TorForge.aspx, though you can’t buy them directly from there – they offer several third-party shops for choice.


Thomas May 27, 2013 um 12:26 pm

I recall seeing a post somewhere on their website that they had decided not to sell their books directly, but never gave a reason. I think it was in response to a comment of the original announcement, but I’m not sure.


Fbone May 27, 2013 um 12:40 pm

Their contract with Amazon and other e-tailers prevent them from selling their titles at a lower cost on their own website. It may not make sense spending the resources to open an ebookstore at list prices.

Nate Hoffelder May 27, 2013 um 12:43 pm

This might well be true, but if it is then why did they announce it in the first place?

And why make such a big deal out of it? The original announcement was made at BEA 2012, with Scalziand Doctorow on stage.

Fbone May 27, 2013 um 1:54 pm

Was the announcement made during Agency pricing? The accountants may now believe they can’t compete with Amazon et al.

Nate Hoffelder May 27, 2013 um 1:58 pm

Macmillan settled in February 2013 only weeks after denying any culpability and promising to fight the court case out to the end. I’m not sure that would have had any effect on a Summer 2012 launch.

And even if it did, that settlement would have given Tor.com a graceful way to back out.


Fbone May 27, 2013 um 3:30 pm

Spring of 2012 they could compete with Amazon and the others. No lawsuit. By late Summer 2012 they knew Agency model will end and no need for online store. It would explain their silence since companies don’t comment on pending litigation or contracts.

Why would Tor open an ebook store with prices higher than Amazon, B&N, etc?


RobC May 27, 2013 um 5:52 pm

They have an eBook store in the uk: http://torbooks.co.uk/buy-tor-ebooks/

Nate Hoffelder May 27, 2013 um 5:57 pm

Thanks!


Bill Smith May 28, 2013 um 7:24 pm

Most of the Tor books are available on DragonMount.com/store, which I believe is run or affiliated with Brandon Sanderson, who has taken the realms on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.


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