Big news.

First of all, Chris Tharp's Dispatches from the Peninsula: Six Years in South Korea is now on sale as an e-book.  In keeping with our (new, still evolving) policy on the e-books preceding paper release dates by a few weeks, I went on and uploaded the files to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Omnilit.  Amazon has been taking as much as a week (even longer a few times, when the spam e-books problem was at its peak) for books to appear, so I didn't expect a fast turnaround.  And voila, less than 24 hours later, there it was.  Didn't see that one coming.  In any event, if you've been chomping at the bit in anticipation of reading this book, it's now available for your delectation.

Barnes & Noble:  (still waiting)

In the coming weeks, we'll upload it to Weightless Books, Google, and various other places… and, of course, the BookCyclone site.

For some mysterious reason, the metadata for Dispatches has not yet made its way through Ingram's distribution network, so if you're looking for the paper edition online, it's not there yet.  The official pub date isn't until Sept. 27, so we're not panicking yet.

I should point out that the concept of the pub date is evolving.  None of the e-retail dashboards I'm currently familiar with does a very good job of letting you set up future pub dates, and restricting availability until then.  With Amazon, you can't set up a future pub date at all: the day you upload it, the clock starts ticking.  It'll take a day or two, or a week, or whatever, to wend its way through their system.  Something similar happens with B&N.  With Omnilit, the uploading process generates a new page for the book, so it goes on sale immediately.  We use Omnilit as our Apple gateway, and they take FOREVER to pipe their books to the iBookstore.  Did I mention they were quite slow (even taking Apple's six-week processing time into account)?  In case I didn't mention this, just be aware: we do eventually get our books into the Apple store, but our present method of delivery could be a bit swifter.  This is something we will deal with.  Back to the point, publishers bigger than we are (which is most of them, I think) have better tools for regulating dates that the various forms of their books go on sale, and can therefore set the date and time with precision.  Smaller presses don't have access to the same tools, which means things go on sale at various times.  In the future, taking this into account, we expect to have longer gaps between e and paper release dates.  As I said, though, our thoughts on how this should work are still evolving, because the market itself is still evolving.

The next big thing also pertains to evolution: the BookCyclone site finally has tag clouds!  This feature went live a couple of days ago.  It was one we wanted all along, but… you know.  Things happened.  The benefit of this is the granularity that tags bring.  The categories we've set up are relatively broad and should stay that way.  Tags will be appropriate for things like countries, gay/lesbian interest, specific religions (we've published some interesting books on Islam, for example), and so on.  (I'm generally against having a gay/lesbian category, treating it as a genre unto itself, because it's not — it could be fiction, non-fiction, self-help, biography, etc.  For pretty much my entire career as an author, I've been opposed to lumping everything gay-related together and isolating it on the pink bookshelf in the most deserted corner of the store!)  Now that the tag cloud has been set up, obviously we have to go in and do some tagging.  We're also behind on adding new books (mainly because Jerome has been doing sales/royalty reports and updating our catalog, and I've been editing books and dealing with my day job), so we'll get to that in the near future as well.

Our developers have also fixed a bug in the way metadata displays: we needed the ability to display multiple authors (because, you know, sometimes people do collaborate on books), and there was something else I'm drawing a blank on in the moment.  The next fix will be the addition of Google Checkout.  Not everyone's keen on PayPal (or can even use it at all), so there needs to be at least one more option.  These two make it possible for most of the world to buy from our site, even though neither is in itself a conventional payment gateway.