Thursday, 15 April 2010


Orbit and Their Ever-Decreasing Digital Circle


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Orbit is an imprint of the Hachette Publishing Group, specializing in science fiction and fantasy books. Today they announced a publishing program for shorter fiction to be published digitally. My ears twitched for this one, thinking, once more we were seeing the green shoots of innovation and openness from a well-respected imprint of a large publishing house. Alas, foolish me...from their press release:

"Orbit (US) has offered to publish digital editions of all original short fiction written by its authors. The digital editions will be distributed widely through major retail channels, for reading on a variety of devices. Authors will be paid a royalty for each story sold, rather than the flat fee more common in the short story market."

My goodness, how incredibly honored and grateful all Orbit published authors must be feeling as they retire this evening to their beds, safe in the knowledge that those short stories, novellas, and novelettes will finally have a warm electronic home to nest in and a modest profit stream. The digital editions will be sold at $1.99 and authors will receive a royalty in line with Hachette's prevailing rate.

That Orbit had not the vision to see this as the ideal platform and window to open submissions up to all authors is a great shame. Almost by economic default and a need to embrace digital development in the publishing industry, the search for the next great Orbit author will be restricted to what this publisher already knows it has in its ranks - almost a case of ever-decreasing circles. It is welcome, but the opportunity has been executed in a little short-sighted way in an effort to promote the next great talent, but at a very low-risk level.

Still, it's a start...

“Publishing timely and well-priced short fiction has long been one of HBG’s goals. The digital reading revolution and the proliferation of new devices and mobile platforms now make this possible.”

Maja Thomas, Senior Vice-President, Hachette Digital.
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