A long rant ahead. You've been warned...
So there I was, reading “The Mark of Nerath” in order to get an idea of the new setting for D&D 4E when I see at the back of the book a list of five more novels in a new “Abyssal Plague” series.
Sounds cool. When do they come out?
Ah. Very well then. So I wait. Months pass and then I see the first novel on the bookshelves. Good, but I know this is part of a series and I’d rather read the entire thing in one go as opposed to starting the series, stopping for a month or two and forgetting what’s what and who’s who, and so on. So I don’t read the book yet. I wait for the next.
Then I see the next one on the bookshelves. Hurray! Two down, three to go. Waiting, waiting, and the next one arrives. Then the fourth. So all I need is the fifth, this “Shadowbane” by Erik Scott de Bie, and then I’ll be able to read the Abyssal Plague.
So I wait. It’s not out yet. Maybe it got delayed, so I’ll be patient. A month past its advertised release date passes and still no book. Two months. Three. Did they advertise it at first and then later decide to forgo this book. I know some 4E supplement books got delayed so maybe the same thing happened here. I wonder what the product catalog says.
No, it says “Shadowbane” is already out. Odd that I haven’t seen it in any of the bookstores yet. What’s going on? Finally, I go the extra step of looking at the bookstores’ online sites to see if I can order it (yes, “extra step”, for I did not have to do this for the other four books). Huh? E-book? Nook book? What about just the regular, printed-on-actual-physical-paper book?
What do you mean it’s only available as an E-book? Was that in the advertisements? What did “The Mark of Nerath” say? It only advertises “The Temple of Yellow Skulls” (with no mention of this series coming out 80% as printed books and 20% as E-books, may I add?). Okay, what does “Temple” say?
Aha! Here we have a list of all five “Abyssal Plague” series books. Yes, this is exactly what I was following when I was on the lookout for the other four novels. Any indication of one of them being an E-book and only an E-book?
“Find these novels at your favorite bookseller. Also available as e-books.” Hmm. No, that doesn’t qualify. “Also available as e-books” is a far cry from “If you don’t have an E-reader or a Nook, you will not be able to finish this series”. Did the other novels mention that? Still a bit cheap to wait until after a trusting customer has begun collecting/reading a novel series to announce that he may end up being screwed over, but any warning at all is still better than none.
“Sword of the Gods”? No. “Under the Crimson Sun”? No. “Oath of Vigilance”? Well, we have the announcement for the third book of the main series (“The Eye of the Chained God&rdquo, which is nice, but still no warning that those of us without E-readers are forevermore doomed to enjoy four-fifths (now, five-sixths) of the main series for 4E while having the last fraction held dangling beyond our reach.
What the hell, WotC? Who kicked whose dog that you felt it was necessary to lash out like this? I mean, what is the logic of releasing a series of novels, of printed in paper books, only to switch gears like that?
An experiment into the realm of E-books, to see how they sell, you say. That’s no reason at all. “The Last Garrison”? A stand-alone novel. Not part of any pre-existing series nor the start of any future series in the planning. Read: the perfect candidate for an experiment of this nature. A book that’s already a part of another series that was already being released in paper-form? Not a candidate. What’s incredible is that this actually has to be said, that it’s not common-fricking-sense.
Making the entire six-book series E-book only would have been more humane. Sure, we non-E-readers would miss out, but at least we’re not having our seven-year-old brother sitting in the car next to us holding his finger an inch away from our shoulder declaring “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!” That’s the maturity of this decision, WotC.
Fine. Whatever. I’ve paid good money on the rest of these books and I don’t want that to go to waste. So how do I get ahold of this E-book? How do E-books work? Does it require an Internet connection, such that someone with a home computer not connected to the Internet is SOL with Ebooks? Can I download it from a connected computer to a USB key and then read it at home? May I point out again that this headache did
not exist with the other four (five)?
I find out I need to pay electronically and I need to have an account with (in my case) Barnes & Noble. Well, I’ve got the account (which I didn’t need for the others) but what does “pay electronically” mean? Can I use a B&N gift card?
Turns out the answer is yes. At any computer hooked up to the Internet, log in to your B&N account and you can pay via a gift card. So I try at my earliest convenience. I even get a little pop-up window reminding me that I’m perfectly able to use a B&N gift card to pay for Nook Books.
So why am I being sent to a screen asking me for my credit card information? I don’t have a credit card, I have a gift card. A gift card I would desperately love to use to pay for this book if the damn screen would only let me! It even told me I could use a gift card so, once again, what the hell? (By the way, this still isn’t an issue with B&N, it’s an issue with WotC. B&N wasn’t the company who decided releasing “Shadowbane” as an E-Book only would be a good thing.)
So I go back to the store and ask what’s going on (remember that part about “my earliest convenience”? This isn’t convenient, folks). I’m told that even though it can be bought with a gift card, it must still have a credit card account tied to the file for security purposes. Well and good, but what do I do? I didn’t have to buy a credit card for the other books, so I’m not buying one for this book.
A Visa checking card will stand in. I can find one at Wal-Mart, but I have to make sure it’s reloadable (as opposed to the Visa gift cards I use to pay for month-long DDI subscriptions here).
(Yeah, that’s right. A Visa gift card is fine and dandy for buying one kind of thing from WotC, but is just not enough for buying another something from the same company. Poor h4ters! They’ve got so much misdirected vitriol aimed at WotC because of what they perceive as WotC’s game design mistakes. Silly h4ters, it’s not the game design that your anger should be going towards.)
So okay. Fine. B&N rings me up at the register so that I’ve got the book on my Nook library that I can’t get to yet, but no matter, because now I’m off to get the checking card. I go to Wal-Mart (several visits to more than one store and I have yet to read the damn book, dear WotC) and buy the card (making sure the card in question is a “checking card&rdquo.
(Incidentally, the E-Book cost a little over $7. Buying a Visa checking card costs $3 and the minimum you can put on the card is $20. I’ve paid over four times the cost of this book and I still haven’t read the first word. Tell me what’s wrong with this picture!)
The next time I’m at a computer able to hook up to the Internet, I enter this card as my so-called credit card. Accepted! Good! Now to actually, finally download this book.
What is an Epub file? How do I open this file? Holy crap on a cracker, what does it take to just be able to read the fricking book?! So I go and download Firefox onto my laptop and then download the Firefox Epub Reader. Can I read it now? Please?!
“This file is protected by the Digital Rights Management (DRM) and unfortunately cannot be opened.”
What does this book want from me, blood?! My first born son?!
So I go back to B&N (I could’ve bought this series twice over by now, given the number of times I’ve had to visit them for this book) with the laptop and they put something called the Nook App on my laptop and now I’m able to finally open and read the book. Not doing it yet, of course; I’ve got to finish other book series before I start “Abyssal Plague”, and even then, “Shadowbane” was towards the end.
Nevertheless, WotC, given the headache I’ve had to go through to finally reach this point, I think I’m perfectly justified in saying that this book had better be worth it. When I read this series, I better learn the Ultimate Question to the Ultimate Answer of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When I get to the end of “Eye of the Chained God”, there better be swirling lights all around me as I’m lifted into the air, incoherently screaming that “I know everything! I AM everything!” Otherwise, just like in Highlander, heads will roll (that is, after I get a collection of Voodoo dolls and start collecting hairs).
Seriously, I’m at the point where I must actually give Paizo a shout-out at how much better they’ve performed in comparison with WotC. Not talking about the game, here, just the simple fact that every one of their “Pathfinder Tales” novels are available as fricking books.
Yes! You heard it here, folks. A company releasing a book as a (say it with me, now) BOOK is worthy of praise. One would think this would be a given, but hey, what do I know?
In fact, I have no idea how well these novels are written. I already know that since they’re set in the humanocentric Inner Sea region of Golarion that I’m not likely to warm to them immediately. Nevertheless, the simple fact that I didn’t have to dodge poison-tipped arrows, outrun rolling boulders, or fight off hordes of Nazis to get ahold of these books still puts them ahead.
WotC, ya’ll screwed up.
TLDR: WotC, ya'll screwed up.
I've finally figured out how to put in a sig. Yes, I'm including this here for no other reason than to express how happy I am that I could finally do this. For goodness' sake, change these forums back (or just change, I don't care).