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Here comes Halloween October 31, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in General.
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As Marc’s been looking towards our first batch of acquisitions (news coming soon!), it’s been very clear there’s a brewing trend for a next wave of horror writers out there. It’s something that mills around in publishing circles, where we keep on waiting for the great resurgence of commercially successful horror writing after the halcyon days of the 80s. And we keep on talking about it, but still it doesn’t come back!

And here we are, of course on the one day per year when everyone’s thinking horrific thoughts in the glorious pagan-capitalist tradition that is Halloween.

So where are the books?

Well, if anyone out there hasn’t read Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box yet, then get busy – Stephen King’s son is the real deal: contemporary, accessible, thrilling and psychologically astute. He could really go on to be something special.

But why not go back to his dad for some ghoulish kicks?
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Go and listen to the Boss October 30, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Events, Future formats.
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Great album, but not the subject of this post!

Great album, but not the subject of this post!

Not that Boss – though I love a listen to Born to Run pretty much anytime.

OUR boss: Victoria Barnsley, HarperCollins UK and International CEO and Publisher.

She’s at the London School of Economics next Tuesday talking about exactly the business context that led Angry Robot to come into existence: the change coming from traditional thinking about what a publishing company does (acquires and publishes books for other people to sell for them) to what future publishing companies must do (acquire and distribute content for them and their consumers to decide what they want to do with).

Vicky’s talking about that in the context of the transition from “analogue” thinking to “digital” thinking – and that’s exactly right. Digital’s not just a way of marketing, it’s a way of thinking – to say we fully know what the hell it means yet would be stretching it, but we want to find out!

Anyway, if you’re in London, go along for a glimpse of the bigger picture.

The times they are a changin… October 29, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Uncategorized.
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There’s lots of scope for change in the world of SF&F publishing – lots of new things to do, lots of new ways of operating.

But when it comes to the big decisions, basically there’s only two things you can do in business (and publishing is a business, for better or worse) – diversify or rationalise. Angry Robot is a product of a decision to diversify – creating a parallel space to HarperCollins‘ Voyager imprint, and the individual publishing of Tolkien, in which to work with different publishing and business models.

And if we think diversification is the way forward, that doesn’t mean rationalising isn’t the right way either. So it was no surprise really to see that Hachette in the US have pulled Orbit and the graphic novel/manga imprint Yen Press into one operation under the overall Orbit brand.

It makes sense – Orbit goes from strength to strength, they do fantastic things for readers and the business as a whole.

Rationalising another imprint under their brand that does different media gives them a platform to go in another direction: diversification under a single brand umbrella, if you like.

So basically, good luck guys!

Angry Robot, the UGC cartoon October 27, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Uncategorized.
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I love Newgrounds, the user-generated casual gaming and viral site – it’s a smart business, and finds a whole bunch of great content. Not least this super-dumb, super-fun Futurama-goes-Death-Wish vignette. Check it out.

Angry Buttons October 27, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Uncategorized.
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Angry Robot magnet by Dustbuster

Angry Robot magnet by Dustbuster

Nowt to do with us, but the merch world is already nicely replete with Angry Robot goods.

Check out the cool consumer-generated stuff over on Zazzle – we’ll be hitting the world with our own branding sometime in the not-too-distant (but not right now!) future. The Robot-man cometh…

Robots rrrock – pt.2 October 25, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Uncategorized.
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We’ve talked about Yeasayer, and we’ve talked about Joe Meek, but what about a whole band made up of Robots?

These guys rock, and their rider’s just a can of WD40 and two spare nuts:

Is John McCain an Angry Robot? October 25, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Uncategorized.
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Angry? Yes, but not a Robot.

Angry? Yes, but not a Robot.

No, we’re not announcing our first acquisition. And although he might be looking for a job if the polls are to be believed come mid-November, we’re not announcing a new member of staff either.

It’s the delightfully ranty capitolhillblue blog that raises the idea, saying of McCain after the latest TV debate:

the candidate I saw looked like an angry rusty robot finding ways to insert just about all his stump speech attacks against Obama into non-answers to questions

Now let’s not start dissing the Angry Robot’s now, shall we??? Hell, we just want to make the next great step in genre publishing, we don’t want to be leaders of the free world…

Ok, maybe we do.

Stretchy, bouncy, floppy pricing October 24, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Future formats, Robot Business.
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Stretching the price to meet your needs

Stretching the price to meet your needs

What are they worth, these words we’re going to publish?

Without getting too theoretical, one of the things I want to know with this business is what the value of the formats we’ll be putting our words out in really is. Sure, we kinda know a UK paperback is worth somewhere between £6.99 and £7.99, and we kinda know a hardback comes in anywhere between £12.99 and £20. But what we don’t really know is what other kinds of content-usage is worth? How much would you want to pay for an ebook, or a digital audio version, or a 500 copy only signed hardback? Sure, we have guides, but they’re rarely driven by clear, broad, market dynamics the way the price of a regular book is, or a pint of milk.

So … we’re going to screw around with things. Experiment. We’re going to test out some classic economics, straight out of the textbook to establish what pricing means for all these different uses of content we want to deliver.

And what that means is that YOU will be driving the price, just the way it should be – because if you don’t buy it, we’re not pricing it right, so we’ll have to try again…

Angry human; dead avatar. No robot. October 23, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Uncategorized.
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David Pescovitz over at BoingBoing picks up on a story reported over on Yahoo about a Tokyo woman facing conviction for killing off her virtual husband.

Are such things the inevitable middle-class outcomes of the soft-side of the MMO world, where “relationships” spring-up in instants, and can be thrown away just as easily. The woman in this case may be facing a 5 grand fine, but better this than the more deeply worrying gold farming black economy that have developed in MMO culture?

A great post over at Private Sector Development Blog takes a different view – that the virtual sweatshop of the gold farmer is better than the real sweatshop of the retail giants.

Returning to the original point about the general rise in trade of services through the internet, gold farming is only one stage of development in an increasingly complex set of economic relationships. As internet infrastructure spreads further in the developing world, entrepreneurs will take advantage of low wages to outsource more complex (and perhaps better paid) online services to China and elsewhere.

It’s difficult to see the pattern – a virtual repetition of real and untenable deprivation, or a step forward in the intertwined development of emerging economies and the internet?

Either way, there are stories waiting to jump out of this. Tell us what they are.

Hot or Not? October 23, 2008

Posted by chrismichaels in Angry Robot Media.
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I admit it, I’ve watched Ghost in the Shell too many times.

I was never a BladeRunner fan – something about it always made me want to fall asleep, though that may have been perpetually watching it half-cut at 3am when I was younger. But Ghost in the Shell? That got me, with it’s “past man, past machine” schtick. But when you see the prosaic reality underneath the philosophising, it’s both deeply disappointing and MORE disturbing than any movie. This Actroid female robot is like some kinda botox freak out of LaLaland done as only Japan can – machinated, miniaturised and perfected. Pointless but wonderful: