So, one of the most interesting thing about the launch of Tor.com and Suvudu, the industry blogs for Tor Books and Del Rey respectively, is that the blogs have both made a concentrated effort to look outside of their little pigeon holes and embrace the world of Speculative Fiction as a whole. Now, I’ve never totally bought into the idea of the honesty behind this (‘Hey, look ma! I’m playin’ nicely with others, just like ya told me to!’ said the publisher’s blog), but they’ve stuck to their guns and are producing some mighty fine content between the two of them (after getting out of those awkward teenage years, in the months following the launches).

Tor.com Logo

Tor.com, however, is taking it all one step further: they’re launching an online store and, well… selling their competitor’s products alongside those published by Tor Books.

When Tor.com launched a little under a year ago, we had a long list of things we wanted the blog to be: an online science-fiction and fantasy magazine for stories and comics, a group blog featuring both pros and fans, and a community site for SF/F fandom. A lot of people didn’t know what to make of us. Some people were confused about the fact that we were actively trying to be as publisher agnostic as we could be, because we believe that other imprints besides Tor Books put out quality SF/F too (some people are still confused, and that’s fine—we’re working on them with our Jedi mind tricks). Other people were disappointed that we weren’t going to be selling books. A subset of those people were upset that we weren’t selling ebooks in particular. We do a lot of listening over here, and it quickly became clear that we needed to build a bookstore.

Well, we certainly took our sweet time (in internet time, that is—by publishing standards, we’re maxing out the FTL drives on the Flatiron building), but today we’re ready to roll out the first part of our bookstore. At first we weren’t sure exactly how to go about it, since Tor.com was conceived from the outset as more of a fan site and less of a retail outlet, and we wanted to make sure we created a store that was both unique and useful, but most importantly that kept true to soul of Tor.com’s initial mission.

You can go and check out the store here. I’ll wait to explain the features until you get back.

In keeping with Tor.com’s publisher-agnostic attitude, the Tor.com Store offers science fiction and fantasy media from most major publishers—the only requirement is that the books in question relate to the genre in some form or another. In keeping with the spirit of our “…And Related Subjects” tagline, we’ve made sure to be as inclusive as possible, and are going to be constantly updating and refining the selection of titles available in the Store.

In order to make the Tor.com Store a curated space for SF/F books, we’re taking advantage of our biggest asset: the voices of our bloggers. The Store’s Special Picks section features lists of books made up by our community of authors, artists and bloggers—if you want a handy list of most of the books Jo Walton has blogged about on the site; if you want to know what books Ellen Datlow considers the most influential SF books (this week); or if you’re curious as to what books Leigh Butler considers to be the “sweatpants of literature”, this is the area of the store you want to check out first. We’ve got a nice handful of lists to start with, and we’ll be adding more continually.

Creating this type of bookstore from within a single large publisher has been an interesting learning experience, and is an ongoing process—we’ve still got plenty up our sleeves, including, of course, an ebook store. We’re dead-set on getting this as right as we possibly can: we want to sell you ebooks that are a pleasure to read, are useful and hassle-free to manage, and we want to sell them to you in a way that is as simple and as unencumbered by technology as we can possibly make it. As an ebook reader, these are headaches I’m all too familiar with, and I have no desire to enable them further. So it’s taking us a bit longer than the print store, but I’m happy to announce that we’ll soon also make ebooks available for sale, and in keeping with the spirit of Tor.com, the ebook store will carry titles from all SF/F publishers as well.

In the meantime, do enjoy our shiny new Store. Check out our Special Picks and our merchandise store. Kick the tires. Buy some books. Let us know what you think (you can either comment here or email me directly at pablo [dot] defendini [at] tor [dot] com—if you email, do include the subject line “TorStore Feedback”, please. It helps with my inbox-fu). And stay tuned for more developments: along with the upcoming Year’s Best Fantasy 9, edited by David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, which will make its exclusive debut on the Tor.com Store in the coming weeks, I’m particularly excited about playing with Brandon Sanderson’s new novel, Warbreaker, and Cory Doctorow’s upcoming Makers, among other cool projects. As always, watch the skies!

I appreciate the emphasis on their writers and bloggers, considering there needs to be some reason to choose this store over something like Amazon.com. The most interesting thing, though, is seeing how they handle their ebooks – if they’re as pain-free as they say they’re going to be, that can only be a good thing. Now, let’s see if they’ll match Suvudu and start giving away free ebooks, as a promotional tool for the store. Of course, we won’t know the answers to any of these things until they actually launch the ebook section of the store. So far, though, things are looking pretty good for the Tor.com online store.

You can find the Tor.com store HERE.

Snagged this from Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist:

Bauchelain and Korbal Broach by Steven Erikson

Rather than a real novel, this is a collection of novellas written by Erikson, finally collected into one volume. It takes place in the world of his well-known Malazan series, which is sure to catch the eye of those fans who haven’t already got their hands on the novellas. What’s curious, though, is that Tor isn’t promoting it as a Malazan novel, at least in the sense that the kept it off the cover. Odd…

What is nice, though, is that Tor has finally saddled an Erikson novel with a decent (but not great) cover; a surprise after all the tripe he’s had to put up with so far. I still shudder whenever I see The Bonehunters.

Adrian Tchaikovsky made some waves when his first novel, Empire in Black and Gold was first released, with many bloggers lauding it as one of the best debuts of the year. He’s fallen a bit off the radar since then, but Pyr Books is trying to change that.

Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky

From the (rather enthusiatic) post on Pyr’s blog:

Words do not begin to express how thrilled I am to tell you all that…

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s brilliant Shadows of the Apt series is coming to the US!!

We’ve just done a deal to bring Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling, and Blood of the Mantis out here. All three books will be appearing from Pyr in early 2010, published in trade paperback in three consecutive months , March-April-May, so US readers can catch up with this dynamic series fast. Shadows of the Apt is a fantastic fantasy, with steampunk elements, that absolutely blew me away when I read it. Airships, steam trains, giant insects, fantastic characters, great action…

From the book description of Empire in Black and Gold:

Seventeen years ago Stenwold witnessed the Wasp Empire storming the city of Myna in a brutal war of conquest. Since then he has preached vainly against this threat in his home city of Collegium, but now the Empire is on the march, with its spies and its armies everywhere, and the Lowlands lie directly in its path. All the while, Stenwold has been training youthful agents to fight the Wasp advance, and the latest recruits include his niece, Che, and his mysterious ward, Tynisa. When his home is violently attacked, he is forced to send them ahead of him and, hotly pursued, they fly by airship to Helleron, the first city in line for the latest Wasp invasion. Stenwold and Che are Beetle-kinden, one of many human races that take their powers and inspiration each from a totem insect, but he also has allies of many breeds: Mantis, Spider, Ant, with their own particular skills. Foremost is the deadly Mantis-kinden warrior, Tisamon, but other very unlikely allies also join the cause. As things go from bad to worse amid escalating dangers, Stenwold learns that the Wasps intend to use the newly completed railroad between Helleron and Collegium to launch a lightning strike into the heart of the Lowlands. Then he gathers all of his agents to force a final showdown in the engine yard…

And for those of you wondering why you should wait for the US edition? (And needing another reason other than your karma and the desire to support Pyr in bringing across more such deserving UK authors…)

Well, I’m pleased to announce that the brilliant and talented Jon Sullivan, who did the covers for the 2nd and 3rd books in the UK, is going to be doing brand-new artwork for all three of the US editions. Now that’s worth

Though the books have been available up here in Canada for quite a while, I’ve never really given them a shot. For those of you who have read them, care to elaborate on what makes them special?

Tchaikovsky also has a pretty fun blog, which can be found HERE.

Though it was graced with some pretty snazzy cover art in the US (HARDCOVER and PAPERBACK) and some pretty horrible cover art in the US (PAPERBACK), none of it is nearly as interesting as the recently revealed cover art for a UK edition of the book.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between?

I’m mostly in the Love it camp. But then again, I’m a fan of cool minimalist art like this, and like the change from the generic painting-of-a-fantasy-character cover that’s so often bequeathed on Epic Fantasy. Since I haven’t read the novel, I can’t really comment on how closely it fits the tone and story, but it’s certainly something that would catch my eye on the shelf.

Thoughts?