By Grace and Banners Fallen by Robert Jordan and Brandon SandersonIsn’t this kind of silly? The idea of releasing a prologue to a novel, no matter how heavily anticipated the novel is, or the length of the prologue, and then charging three bucks for it has always struck me as an embarrassingly blatant money grab by Tor. Doubly so when you consider that George R.R. Martin releases full chapters from his A Song of Ice and Fire novels, which have easily surpasses Wheel of Time in popularity, years or months in advance, for free.

And to kick the tires promoting the fact that you can now lay down money to pre-order a prologue to a novel, that, being DRM-free, has a limitless number of sellable copies? Shameless.

Dragounmount, where the eBook can be pre-ordered DRM-free, says:

The full prologue is a lengthy, action-packed chapter that has intense scenes and some great surprises. “By Grace and Banners Fallen” is the final Wheel of Time prologue. There’s no doubt that Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson left some great surprises for us.

Pre-ordering a limited-edition chapbook with gorgeous production values? That I can get behind. This, not so much. Unfortunately, I’m sure many Wheel of Time fans will gobble this up, like little Oliver Twist.

  • neth September 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Yes, it’s terrible. They’ve done it before. And the worst part is that fans will still line up to buy it. It’s hard to fault Tor that much since the fans will pay for the same content twice and since they’ve done it for the other books, there obviously hasn’t been a conscequence. But it is a huge slap in the face that really pisses me off as a fan.

  • Colleen September 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

    I respect your desire to not download the prologue, and to feel that it’s an embarrassing money grab. I’d like you to respect my desire to buy the prologue in advance of the book. Yes, I know I’m buying the same content twice. In fact, I will be buying it three times, since I will buy the prologue, the physical book, and the ebook when that becomes available a few months later.

    It may not sense to you, and that’s okay. This is how I choose to support artists, and the company that publishes them. I would appreciate it, though, if you would acknowledge that some fans have actually reasoned this out and come to a different conclusion than you have.

    I could say that it’s “unfortunate” that some fans forget that publishers are, first, businesses, and that the demand is obviously there, so supplying the item is meeting a demand. I could say that it’s “terrible” that some fans aren’t willing to spend an extra 2.99 to support works and people they enjoy. But I recognize that this is simply your choice, no more or less valid than mine.

  • Aidan Moher September 13, 2012 at 10:53 am

    You’re right, Colleen. All opinions, yours as much as mine, and mine as much of yours, are equally valid. Here on my personal blog, you’re likely to run into my opinion. Funny that. There’s even a disclaimer down there in the footer warning you as such.

    If you read a bit closer, you’ll see that my issue isn’t so much the charging of money for the prologue (though I do take issue with that, too), but with the shameless idea that suggesting fans preorder a item with an unlimited production run (like an eBook) is tacky. It’s the same reason that I feel that pre-ordering digitally distributed videogames is silly, though at least in that situation you’re allowed to pre-load the game, doing the downloading of the game ahead of time, enabling gamers to enjoy the game immediately on release. No such advantage with eBooks.

  • Colleen September 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Yep, personal opinion on personal blog. I’m totally okay with that. It was the implied … lessening of those who made different choice that I wanted to point out. You don’t have to *do* anything with that information, but I felt moved to leave it there as a point of discussion. I’m never, ever going to imply that you can’t say whatever you darn well please on your own blog. So I’m sorry if it seemed as if I was.

    And apologies again; I had not realized that your major point of contention was the pre-ordering. It seems like an ultimately harmless, but still very silly, way to up the hype. On the other hand, I do actually pre-order digital downloads for video games, so perhaps I’m their target market?

  • Justin September 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I’m with Colleen. Burn him! ;)

    Didn’t these prologues used to be free though? I remember when they were free.

  • Iwinulose2 September 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    You need thicker skin Aidan. If you don’t want to read other peoples opinions, then turn off the comments.

    With that being said, I’ve never had a problem paying a couple bucks for the prologue. Tor tends to give out a few chapters for free, and one free chapter from the audio book, so if people don’t want to pay for the prologue there’s plenty of other free chapters to pacify people.

  • Tom Lloyd September 14, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Well I have to agree and think Tor should be embarrassed about this. If people want to buy it fine; at the end of the day the profits for big books subsidise new authors like me so I can hardly object too greatly, but I’d want more respect shown to the fans. I wonder if they would do it for a living author? Given this is the end of the series, and the devotion of the Jordan fans, they clearly think it’s worth doing – with more of a long-term author career in mind, I wonder if they’d risk annoying the fanbase with such a tactic?

  • Michael Sulivan September 14, 2012 at 4:00 am

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt this a bit “beneath them.” If you want to pre-release a prequel – fine…great even…it’s a nice way of “giving back” to the fan base. But charging for it? That doesn’t sit well with me either.

  • Jeff C September 14, 2012 at 4:37 am

    The real issue I have with it is the price…I think it should be $0.99 instead of $2.99. Sure, a 40k word prologue is a nice size, but since fans would be paying twice, a lower price would be much less irritating.

  • Rob B September 14, 2012 at 6:15 am

    This is nothing new, I think Tor was selling the prologues to these books for over ten years, back to I *believe* the prologue to WINTER’S HEART. (Doesn’t make it good/nice).

    As Colleen said, publishing is indeed a business, but let’s face i…. Tor’s going to make millions on this book – with or without the questionable practice of selling the same content twice. Seems like they are fleecing the readers and fans a bit.

  • Mike September 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

    This, as in the past, feels like a shameless money grab.

  • Scott September 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I could be remembering a romanticized version of this, but I seem to recall that the first time a Wheel of Time prologue was released in advance of the actual novel, it was the first book released after RJ’s amyloidosis diagnosis and there had been an unusually long wait for the book. It was marketed as a sort of ‘thank you/apology’ to fans for taking longer than normal to produce the next volume in the series and gave them something to chew on until the full publication date. I could swear that it was only 99cents and that all the proceeds went to the Mayo Clinic’s amyloidosis research unit, and that it was a huge hit. But again, I may be confusing more than 1 thing in my head here for something that was so long ago.

    And while I’m commenting, I was curious, Aidan, on what statistics do you base the statement you made that Ice & Fire “… easily surpasses Wheel of Time in popularity…”? I’m not challenging you, per se, I’m genuinely curious to know because I sort of assumed that the 14 novels (counting prequel) of the Wheel out so far have outsold the 5 novels and various novelas released for Fire so far. Or were you basing the measure of popularity on some other measure? Thanks.

  • Aidan Moher September 17, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Hey Scott,

    You’re right that the Wheel of Time has sold more books than A Song of Ice and Fire, 44 million vs. 22 million. The large chunk of those A Song of Ice and Fire books have been sold over the past two years. If each series had the same number of volumes, A Song of Ice and Fire would likely be in the 55-60 million range, however. My comment was more to do with A Song of Ice and Fire’s prevalence and popularity in general pop culture, and, likely, the revenue it’s currently producing compared to Wheel of Time (with the TV show, etc….)

  • Scott September 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    That’s an excellent point and one I did not consider. In that light, I would certainly agree that Ice is the more popular.

  • Andreas September 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

    The fact that Tor releases the prologue in a DRM free format is a huge step up over the previous prologue releases. And the price is fairly decent as well. (Compared to $5 for the first prologue.)

    What boils my blood however is the fact that as a european citizen I am unable to buy the prologue even though I actually want to do so. Even worse, this will mean that I will not be able to participate in the spoiler discussions on the various WoT webforums since those participants will know stuff I don’t and I don’t really want to be too spoiled about the prologue before I read it myself. *grr*

  • Mike Torrisi September 24, 2012 at 8:25 am

    @ Jeff C: I’m considering buying a kindle just to get the prologue. You’re quibbling over the price at 3 bucks? Let’s be honest. I’ll spend 5-10 times that on a good meal and I’ll get far more out of the prologue than I would out of a steak dinner. And I think I can afford to spend the price of a beer on entertainment to tide me over for 3+ months until I can get my hands on the full book.

  • Rob B September 24, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I think Jeff’s main contention, at least mine, is that charging customers for the same content twice is the main issue.