No ebooks for you

As I have mentioned recently, the majority of my reading is currently done via ebooks on my Kindle.  And though I do buy some ebooks, mainly indie titles or during sales, my primary source is my local library via the Overdrive system.  And since my primary genres are sci-fi and fantasy, I ran into an unexpected issue recently; I’m kind of uncertain how I feel about it and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

After reading VE Schwab’s Vicious (you can read my glowing brief review here), I was eager to pick up the sequel Vengeful, which came out September 25, 2018, published by Tor Books.  However, when I went to place a hold on it on Overdrive, I found that there was only an audiobook copy, no ebook to be found. I thought that was strange, so while I waited, and waited, and waited months for the audiobook I did some digging.  


Last summer, sci-fi/fantasy publisher Tor, a division of Macmillan, announced a test wherein they would only sell ebooks to libraries after a four month waiting period.  They suspect that library lending is cutting into their sales, so by restricting the digital copies they sell to libraries they hope more people will buy their ebooks. Here are some are some articles with more detail from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

I had vaguely seen this in passing last year, but for some reason had not expected it to affect me.  I have to admit, once I discovered why I was unable to get a library ebook copy of Vengeful, it had the exact opposite effect on me.  I had briefly considered buying a copy instead of waiting for it, but after finding out about Tor’s plan I absolutely refuse to buy it.  Maybe that’s just me being stubborn, but I really dislike feeling almost like the publisher is manipulating me. I personally buy most books only after having read them from the library first; you can argue whether that’s fair or not, but it’s a strategy that I am comfortable with.

Of course plenty of other people are upset about Tor’s plan also.  The ALA issued a press release on it, and John Scalzi (a Tor author) wrote a very fair-minded response to many fan complaints.  (Among other things he points out that Tor was one of the first to abandon DRM on their digital books, and that the four month delay does not apply to print copies.)

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license
Ebook between paper books by Maximilian Schönherr

I understand that Tor is running a business, but this move does not seem designed to foster goodwill with their customers.  I am certainly less inclined to buy any of Tor’s books right now.

Presumably my library will be able to get an ebook copy of Vengeful on January 25 (they don’t have a print copy right now either for whatever reason).  Maybe I’ll be able to read it at some point after that, or maybe I’ll just move on to other books (my to-read list is certainly long enough). Tor did express that this was a test, but there’s no information on how long they expect the test to go on (it’s “open-ended”), nor have I found any updates on how their sales have been since last summer.

Have any of you run into this same issue with Tor ebooks?  What are your thoughts? Should I just suck it up and get used to sci-fi audiobooks? 😀

15 thoughts on “No ebooks for you

  1. Kariyanine January 24, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    I don’t generally utilize the library, although maybe I should, but even if I did this doesn’t make me want to go out and buy Tor published books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei January 24, 2019 / 8:53 pm

      Yeah, I kinda feel the same. (You should totally use the library! If you’re paying taxes, you’re probably already paying for it haha)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gavin (Firehorse) January 24, 2019 / 12:43 pm

    I gotta admit I have never bought an ebook. It is blatant profiteering, but they are trying to make a profit, that’s what companies do, and if you are going to the library, you are not really their customer! I reckon it will blow over as they realise the affect on sales is no worth the time organising the delayed release to libraries.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei January 24, 2019 / 9:01 pm

      A very realistic and grounded perspective 🙂 I am curious how the “test” is going, and how they will respond to the results (I think it’s the scientist in me)
      You are not a fan of ebooks? Any reason other than the markup?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Gavin (Firehorse) January 25, 2019 / 2:03 am

        NO, I tend to read books, but mostly I don’t have a lot of time nowadays. I used to read constantly, but working full time and bringing up two kids on my own, there isn’t much spare time, and I fill that with my blogging. But I feel inspired now, I’m going to grab something from the bookshelf today!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mei-Mei January 25, 2019 / 6:28 am

        Ah, I definitely feel you about the time crunch. I make time to read because it’s my priority in any spare time, even before blogging 🤣Hope you enjoy whatever you pick up!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. lorrs33 January 24, 2019 / 2:50 pm

    I wouldn’t like being manipulated like that. I indulge in paperback, ebook and audiobook but I won’t let someone force me to choose a particular medium. I’d be stubborn and not buy anything from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei January 24, 2019 / 9:02 pm

      Haha that’s exactly how I’m feeling! Maybe it’s a little petty. But I guess that just like they have a right to not sell ebooks to libraries right away, I have a right not to buy anything from them!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. starwarsanon January 24, 2019 / 9:18 pm

    Ah very interesting. I have a kindle and nook, both of which I have enjoyed, but I find that I still get most books out of the library. I just looooove the feel of a book when I’m reading. The turning of the pages on the e-books annoy me. I only use the kindle or nook when I’m traveling. I kind of like my nook better because it’s one of the first editions and no nonsense and very basic whereas I have a kindle fire which is super distracting to settling down and reading.

    I think the main issue here is 1) they’ve taken away your routine and 2) they’ve taken away your choice. I, too, would refuse to buy the e-book out of spite and to make a point. Libraries are wonderful, wonderful resources and they are trying to evolve, just like everyone else. So instead of taking away READING (which, essentially, that’s what they’re doing and what we need more of in this world), they should be gladly giving the gift.

    Are you going to read it as an actual book?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mei-Mei January 24, 2019 / 9:58 pm

      Ohh you’ve distilled it so nicely with your two points. I think I’m really more grumpy about the disruption to my routine haha!

      Being mostly on Kindle right now is one thing I dislike about my current reading habits. (I have a Fire also; sometimes I just turn off the wifi after downloading the books) All things being equal, I’d rather read a “real” book. Unfortunately, the library does not have a print copy and I certainly won’t buy this one at least until it’s in paperback (maybe not even then haha). So I don’t know what to do except shrug and let it drop further down on my reading list.

      Do you do audiobooks? I’m having trouble getting into them, not sure if I should keep trying.


      • starwarsanon January 25, 2019 / 7:16 am

        I do not do audiobooks. I can imagine I would listen to them if I had a long commute (I walk from my bedroom to two feet away) or had a job where I could listen to something while I worked (like a cleaner, chef or something like that). Neither of those apply to me so I just read in bed before I go to sleep. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael J. Miller January 25, 2019 / 6:32 am

    I admit I am just reacting here – I’ve only just read your post and I’ve done no research into this myself. I haven’t even clicked on the links you’ve offered above yet. That being said, I can’t imagine how this would help Tor. First, library use (depending on the local community of course) isn’t what it used to be. Nor, are people’s time to read what it was. We constantly have new things competing for the attention we devote to reading. So, second, I can’t imagine the number of people who use the library will really affect their sales. Some people like to buy books right away first. Others like to support their local library. I can’t see how this move would immediately change the habits of Tor’s readers. I think instead it’s more likely to just make everyone upset. I’d bet even those who buy the books right away or prefer to buy than use the library would read about this and think, “….really Tor? C’mon.” At least that’s how I feel! I’m not a big ebook guy and I’ve never got one from the library and I think this is a bad idea. So, again, this is just my immediate reaction. But it seems like a ridiculous move on Tor’s part.

    Liked by 1 person

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