Recently Polish sci-fi and fantasy websites were electrified by the news that Andrzej Sapkowski, the author of “The Witcher”, has written another book in the witcher universe, starring Geralt himself. Many people (myself included) grew up with the white-haired monster slayer, impatiently waited for every next book in the series, quoted the countless punchlines and consider the Witcher series somewhat of a legend. Regardless of speculations what was the reason for the author to come back to writing the series (which he said countless times was not an option), there was little doubt of whether to buy the book or not – we all pretty much knew we are going to get it.
I was actually excited about it – even if it wasn’t to be “the same as in the past”, even if wasn’t to be perfect, I wanted that book. I wanted another piece of the legend that was part of my life, of my youth. Well, I guess my reasons to buy were somewhat sentimental.
Yet, as the title states it I won’t buy the book that is most likely to become a bestseller. And it’s not from trying to be “different” or show that I don’t follow the crowd, oh no! I can tell you that I was ready to cheerfully jump on the band wagon with all the other people and it somewhat saddens me that I won’t be able to.
The answer is simple: no ebook. The publishing house made it clear that they don’t plan to release electronic version any time soon which for me is basically a deal killer. I live in Ireland and getting a Polish paperback mean I have to pay double (or sometimes triple, if the book is heavy) the price to have it delivered to me. It also means I will have to wait for the kind postal service to bring it to my door.
Of course one could point out those are just minor obstacles and if I really wanted the book, I’d be getting it anyway. But I am a human being, so when the sentiment gets in the way of my convenience I will most often than not get rid of the sentiment, not give up my convenience. And there are so many other, equally or more exciting books I can get instantly, without any effort and without wondering, where will I find a place in my small, rented flat to squeeze another book.
Today’s world is dashing forward and we often find ourselves unable to catch up with it. And sure we do not have time to stop and wait for something when there are so many other titles on offer. So even if the publisher finally decides to release its bestseller as an ebook the chances are sales will be low. The impatient ones would have already gotten the book in a paperback format and others… Others, like me, will be too busy being excited about other freshly released books that we can get in an eye blink.
And maybe, in a few years, when I will be browsing my favorite ebook store, I will come across Sapkowski’s “Sezon Burz” and I will remember that I wanted to read it. Chances are I will just put it on the wishlist “for later” which will be another couple of years as I will spent the money on all the ebooks that will be available when I want them. And in the end I might never buy it, unless the sentiment reignites with – perhaps – another book.
Because nowadays, who deliberately stays behind is left behind.
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Kind of surprised a modern day publisher wouldn’t release something in ebooks. Around the world ebooks are surpassing the sales of physical copies. I dunno, maybe Poland is different. I Know here in the USA this would have people flooding the publisher’s website with requests.
As an aside: My main exposure to the Witcher is through the games by CD Projekt Red. I don’t read Polish (Or speak it for that matter) so I have to rely on translations of the books. I know a few are available over here, I just haven’t had the chance to pick ’em up.
I can tell you I was very suprised myself. Even though Poland is a little bit behind when it comes to ebooks (more expensive e-readers, etc.), they are getting more and more popular and most of the publishing houses started to cater to the needs.
But, sadly, this one particular publisher is still stuck in the backwater approach of “if we release an ebook it will be pirated” (they didn’t and illegal electronic versions of the paperback started circling around anyway) and they are stubborn enough to ignore people asking for an ebook.
Recently another publisher (small one, actually) released an interesting book, but so far is ignoring readers questions about ebooks.
I can see that when Poland will catches up with US when it comes to ebook popularity and sales (and this will happen since ebook readers are getting cheaper, also – people read on smartphones and pads) those publishers will be desperately trying to catch up too…
I just looked. I can get the English translations of The Witcher on a few different platforms over here. Amazon, Google Books, Apple’s ibook service. Kind of Ironic…
It not be the Publisher but the author himself. I heard he can be a bit cantankerous when it comes to…everything. Of course, that is only what I’ve read through interviews and such in relation to The Witcher game series.
On a related note: CD Projeckt started a website called GOG.com because of many of the same reasons you mentioned about ebooks. They saw that games were getting pirated pretty easily in Poland. They wanted to create a website where people could easily purchase non DRM games with an added value. That is the only way digital media can fight piracy. If a publisher offers no digital solution or a really complicated digital solution, many people will just go download the book/music/game via a torrent site. There will always be pirates but there are also a lot of people who would rather by a product but can’t. Book and music publishers and game makers need to make it easier for us to get content digitally, not harder.
…But I digress, heh.
Yeah, easier to get Witcher in English than in Polish.
You are right, it might be the author. Though seeing that the publisher never releases any of their books in an electronic version, I’d bet it’s them.
And GOG.com is great (it’s my preference over Steam which requires updates, interenet connection, etc.) and it also makes my brain crash when I try to figure out why some publishers can’t make the same conclusions – or why they think this kind of success does not apply to ebooks.
Well, in the end it’s as simple as that: it’s not them who gets my money! 🙂