I am addicted to reading. So of course I feel the need to pass on links to great sites to download quality books and stories from. File this under Geek, I guess, and all thanks to Jim Bean and the team of world-class authors he gathered under his wing…
The web site at Baen Books doesn’t have the look and feel of those slick multi-national conglomerates with unlimited marketing budgets. In fact, it reminds me of the internet version of the classic pulps, like Astounding, Analog, or Asimov’s (to mention just the A’s).
And the content is just like that; real people with a real commitment to quality writing, and getting that work out to the public. And other aspects of the classic pulps are there as well; the free exchange of ideas, the sense of community, the sense of wonder, and even the cover art of the site (the home page background, although the book’s cover art displayed is also quite nice).
Don’t be fooled by the look; if you pop the hood and look at the source code there is some very elegant scripting working on both the client and server sides of this site, beyond what FrontPage5.0 can give you. All of which makes me feel like I am among friends when I visit, but it isn’t the reason I feel the need to include this site.
The reason is the books, and the attitude.
For the books, just look at the list of authors who choose to use them as an outlet; http://www.baen.com/author_list.asp. Any publisher who can attract Poul Anderson, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jack L. Chalker, David Drake, Esther Friesner, Larry Niven, David Weber, and a host of others has to be doing something right.
I believe that something right is the attitude. Jim Baen seems to be someone who believes in what he is doing, and is doing it the way the folks who brought us WorldCon, Fandom, and the Pulps did; the Futurian Society would be proud! Let me give you some examples….
Attitude can best be picked up by checking their FAQs page.
Community means just that; a group of people exchanging ideas, agreeing (or more often not) on a range of concepts they hold in common, or at least want to explore together. Every sci-fi fan should have Baen’s Bar in their collection of BBS/Forum links. What makes this one even more fun is the fact that some of the the authors read them, have their own Topics, and often Post.
Commitment is here with a vengeance, and a twist. The twist is the authors and publishers are all, by nature, living in the future (or in some cases, the deep past). It is who they are, after all, and why they create these stories and worlds. So they bypassed the mistake the RIAA was making, and embraced the new technologies to enhance their goals, rather than alienate their audience with it. Kind of makes me wonder if Eric Flint knows Janis Ian (she is doing the same thing with her online music, although I doubt either of them considers themselves a leader or revolutionary on the Electronic Freedom front); he started with a casual comment to Jim B. that resulted in one of the best things the internet has to offer; the Baen Free Library! For those of you who believe in the Gutenburg Project, you will feel right at home here. And for the few Corporate Executives who wound up here by mistake, take note. This is a perfect example of appropriate use of technology to achieve your goals; the paradigm has shifted, and your marketing head will love emulating this (if they have the intelligence to understand what they are doing).
The bottom line is, visit and bookmark this site. The base URI is http://www.baen.com/, and make sure to take your time checking out all the wonderful things you will find there!