A family affair
If you look to the right >> you’ll see that I am currently reading Feud by Derek Birks. Unfortunately, what you can’t see how much I’m enjoying it. Well, now << you can see it.
Set in England in the mid 1450’s and (where I am at the moment) the 1460’s, the eagle-eyed historians amongst you will have noticed this is the time of The Wars of The Roses.
Anyway, on his Twitter Monday, Derek announced that the follow-up to Feud, to be called A Traitor’s Fate, will be out on Kindle on 1 November. As Feud has also been released on Apple’s iBooks, I’m guessing it will be available there at around the same time.
As I am reading – and enjoying – Feud on the Kindle app on my iPhone, I’m thinking I might as well get the new one on that as well. In a later Tweet, he also said he is starting the third in the series. I haven’t detected any clues as to a title yet, but – I better get reading!
Read more about what looks like being a truly epic series, amongst other things, on www.derekbirks.com
Back in the saddle
(Yet) Another book I enjoyed tremendously (this year?), was Hawk Quest, by Robert Lyndon (after a recommendation from Ben Kane). I noticed at the weekend, that Amazon have what appears to be his second book Imperial Fire available for pre-order here, with a release date of the 2nd January 2014. Here’s what the synopsis says: ”
In the world after 1066, vast empires clamour for dominance.
From the Normans in the north to the Byzantines in the south, battles rage across Europe and around its fringes. But in the east, an empire still mightier stirs, wielding a weapon to rule the world: gunpowder.
Seeking the destructive might of this ‘fire drug’, the mercenary Vallon – a man made as of grit and earth as much of flesh and blood – is sent by the defeated Byzantine emperor on a secret and near-impossible quest to the far off land of Song Dynasty China. Alongside a squadron of highly trained soldiers, Vallon is accompanied by the learned physician Hero, hermit-like tracker Wayland and a young, ego-driven upstart named Lucas. All have their own reasons for going, all have secrets.
It’s a quest that will lead them across treacherous seas and arid deserts and into the uncharted land of mountains and plains beyond the Silk Road. Many will die… but the rewards are unbelievable.
The link with what I think of when I see ‘1066’, was a little tenuous in Hawk Quest. So the ‘an epic novel of the Norman Conquest’, should possibly have had ‘of the Norman Conquests’ removed. It having very little to do with them, and all. This one too, with its ‘In the world after 1066’ seems to be a little pushing it a bit, given the ‘quest to the far off land of Song Dynasty China’ part. I’d be pretty certain that the Chinese had, at that point, no idea the year was 1066. Anywhere. It certainly wasn’t ‘1066’ in China at the time, I’m thinking. But, it really doesn’t matter. Apart from to the person trying to place the book in the mind of the vast majority of their target market, I suppose. Hawk Quest was a world-wide success as far as I can see and, hopefully, this one will be just as excellent – not to mention epic – as its predecessor was.
There isn’t a cover picture yet for Imperial Fire, but you can place your order on Amazon here. As I have done. Or on Book Depository here. The only difference with the two (apart from that Amazon will be a little cheaper than Book Depository on release), is that you’ll pay for the book now on The Book Depository and at the time of release on Amazon.
Foyles Rush In
As I mentioned a week or so ago, Bill Bryson was calling for e-books to be somehow included with the purchase of a ‘normal’ version, perhaps the hardback, or to be offered at a reduced price, if you bought a physical copy as well. Amazon, I’m told, are doing something similar to how they offer an mp3 version of an album you have bought on vinyl. That kind of thing, but for books.
So to today. Today, I got an email from Foyles bookstore (they’re in the UK) the business part of which I’ve put above. As it says, they are , on selected titles, offering the e-book version as well, if you buy the hardback version. According to their webpage, it’s in conjunction with Harper Collins and there are – on the face of it – some pretty attractive (to me anyway) titles on their intro page. Immediately grabbing the eye are Max Hastings’ Catastrophe and Bernard Cornwell’s The Pagan Lord.
Here’s the deal. There are eight books from Harper Collins available in the ‘book bundle’ promotion. You buy one as shrink-wrapped hardback, you get a unique code which will allow you (or someone else) to download the e-book version. Presumably they’re shrink-wrapped to make sure the ‘someone else’ is someone you know and to stop someone else getting at the code without buying. If you have already bought a copy of one of the books in the promotion (presumably from Foyles), you can get a code from them. They suggest that they’re testing the waters here, with the inference being that they may offer more books from Harper Collins and more books from different publishers, if it goes well.
Price-wise however, the e-book version from Foyles is not free. Or anything near it.
Let’s look at the Bernard Cornwell The Pagan Lord. I pre-ordered and paid £11.25 for the hardback from Amazon – it was sent the day it came out. They’re currently offering it for £9.00. Other places linked to on the Amazon page for The Pagan Lord, are offering it for £5.99, with a couple of notes delivery. Even factoring in the exorbitant Danish VAT (‘MOMS’) and postage here to Denmark, the whole lot ‘only’ (you’ll see why ‘only’ in a moment or two) cost me £16.73.
Foyles, for the hardback and the e-book version bundle, want £25.00. And they’re suggesting that is a reduction on the normal price (of both?) of £30.00! The inside cover of my The Pagan Lord, states the RRP as £20.00. Elsewhere, Foyles are offering the hardback version of The Pagan Lord, at £15.00, stating that you save £5.00. If you scroll down to their section allowing you to download the e-book version only, and you’re looking at £13.99. Only £2.00 less than the hardback price. The e-book version doesn’t seem to be available on Amazon’s Kindle store as yet (there’s no link to it anyway), but it can’t be long off. Apple are offering it (here in Denmark) for 129 Kroner. That is £14.65, near as makes no difference. The UK iBooks site has it at £13.99. So Foyles’ e-book price is in-line with the cheapest available e-book price – so far.
However, that £13.99 is the iBooks ‘hardback’ price. The price now. On the Danish iBooks store, it is possible to pre-order, if you want to wait a while, the ‘paperback’ iBooks version. That will cost you 85kr, or £9.65. Well under the £13.99 Foyles are wanting for the here and now e-book version.
The bottom line? Foyles are offering the two, as a ‘book bundle’ for the knock-down price of £25.00. If you compare the cheapest price you could do the same (hardback and e-version) for, of £9.00 (I’ll go for the Amazon hardback price, but remember you could get it for as little as £5.99), and the cheapest (if you wait a bit) so far e-book version of £9.65, the whole will cost you £18.65. That’s £6.35 less. Which would, of course, would get you another hardback Pagan Lord. You do get free UK delivery (if you buy for over £10) from Foyles, but then you do from Amazon as well. To Denmark – it’d cost me another £5.00 to have it posted.
All in all, I think this is going to be a tough sell. I can’t see the advantage in going for a Foyles book bundle, even if I lived in the UK. I haven’t looked at the other books in the promotion, maybe you’ll save a fortune on some of them. But Bernard Cornwell is very popular, not just in Historical Fiction circles. So he should be a ‘typical’ example to use. Even a candidate for a ‘loss-leader’, I’d have thought. Unless people aren’t already clued up on what they can get books for, or if they don’t care what a book costs them, or they’re blinded by this being a bundle!, then this has got ‘no deal’ written all over it. As I’ve mentioned more than once, I’m absolutely not against paying full-whack/RRP for a book. I have done, I will do again. As I have also said more than once, I rather fear Amazon have got us accustomed to paying very little for a book. So little, that a not unreasonable RRP looks expensive. But I’m not so well-off I can just throw money away. I buy from Amazon when I want over £25.00 worth of books at the same time (free delivery to Denmark on orders over £25.00, you see). Or for single items, I’ll order from The Book Depository. And I did, this last summer, buy several books at RRP from Topping & Co in Ely. Happy to do so and happy to do so, so it supports the high-street book shops. Two were signed copies, so there was what you might call ‘added value’, but the other one wasn’t. Unfortunately, but understandably, other people are not so altruistic. And they’re surely going to look at that £25.00 price and say “no way!”, aren’t they? I wouldn’t be sounding so sure that this was going to take of, if I were Foyles. Though just because I can’t see why, doesn’t mean it won’t. I’ll be keeping an eye on this, that’s for sure.
If you haven’t already done so, you can see the Foyles book bundle deal here.