UK Publisher Gollancz Annnounces Major E-Book Initiative
Gollancz, an imprint of London-based Orion Publishing Group, has announced a plan to digitize 5000 out-of-print novels in what it claims will be the world's largest digital library of science fiction and fantasy books.
Dubbed the SF Gateway project, the massive effort will bring to the e-book marketplace recently-acquired titles from well-known and influential writers, many of which have been out of print for years, including books from such famous names as Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
"Gollancz's science fiction publishing program is 50 years old this year, so it was felt to be the perfect time to celebrate the past and move into the future in one initiative," Darren Nash, Gollancz's digital publisher, told Book Business. "We also believe that the time is right to take some bold steps in digital publishing and that [science fiction] is the perfect genre to be in the vanguard of this sort of project."
The e-books will be offered in conjunction with the publication of the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Last updated in 1993, the new edition will be published by ESF, Ltd. in association with Gollancz—the latter providing funds to enable a free online edition. In return, the encyclopedia will link directly to the Gateway website. "The [encyclopedia] and the SF Gateway site will be two sides of the same coin, providing interested parties with a massive reference work on the genre and the perfect place to discuss the genre and to find huge numbers of classic works," Nash said.
Because of this close integration, science fiction enthusiasts browsing the encyclopedia will be able to instantly purchase e-books referenced in articles. The SF Gateway website will bring a social networking element to the project, allowing fans to recommend and share favorite books. With blogs, forums and and special promotions, the site is envisioned as a "major community hub" for readers.
The project officially launches in September with more than 1000 titles; plans call for the collection to build to 3000 available titles by the end of 2012 and at least 5000 by 2014.
The initiative comes out of Gollancz's ongoing SF Masterworks series, instituted over a decade ago to keep classic works of science fiction in print. Nash said being able to digitize these older works greatly expands the publisher's ability to make available backlist titles.
"To bring entire backlists back into print using traditional publishing mechanisms is simply not feasible, but the rapid developments in digital publishing have allowed us to do just that: to rescue authors' entire backlists and republish them - this time, as e-books," he said.