For those of you who don't know: typically, purchasing a Supporting membership to a WorldCon gets you a packet containing most of the printed Hugo nominated materials, as well as voting and nominating rights for the Hugo Awards. The price of a Supporting membership varies from year to year - I think it's typically $40-$60. This year it's approximately $42, depending on the exchange rate. You get a LOT of interesting stuff to read for that price!
Well, Orbit has made a really interesting choice, according to the joint statement Ann Leckie and Charles Stross posted today. Especially interesting in light of the fact that Tor is going to include ALL of the Wheel of Time in the Voter's Packet this year.
Orbit has decided that its THREE Best Novel nominated works will only be made available in the voter's packet in excerpt form. The three novels not included in the voter's packet: Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice, Charles Stross' Neptune's Brood, or Mira Grant's Parasite.
Of course, it's easier for them to make this decision since they control three of the five Best Novel nominees. It's interesting to note that this decision seems to be against the wishes of at least two of the affected authors. I don't see Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) weighing in yet - but I know that several of her works were included in the voter's packet last year. [ETA: Seanan McGuire is weighing in on twitter - she is part of the joint statement with Ann Leckie and Charles Stross, but can't post it while LiveJournal is down. So, Orbit's decision is against the wishes of all three affected authors.]
Of course, I completely agree that it should be entirely up to the nominated entities whether their work is included for free in the Voter's Packet.
I can only speak for myself, but in my mind it makes perfect sense to include your nominated authors' works in the voter's packet. Even though it may seem like a short-term loss on the substantial investment in that particular work, it opens the door not only to a potential award, but to a few thousand people potentially falling in love with your nominated author's work, resulting in the purchase of a lot more of that author's works. That's what's happening to me! I'm actively seeking out Seanan McGuire and Aliette de Bodard after reading their nominated shorter works in last year's voter packet. I don't know that I would have ever found them otherwise.
I wonder how Orbit's decision will affect the final outcome of the Best Novel voting this year.
All that being said, I expect there will still be an ENORMOUS amount of interesting stuff in this year's Voter's Packet. There are ALL THE OTHER CATEGORIES for the 2014 Hugo's, and then let's not forget, we're hoping to see a substantial portion of the 1939 Retro Hugo nominated materials as well!
Also, I'm not at all sorry that I've already purchased the three Orbit-owned books in question. I generally don't mind giving a little bit of royalty to Hugo-nominated authors - and if I wait for the Voter's Packet, that's a lot of reading time I've wasted and a lot of categories I potentially can't vote in having not finished reading the nominees.
[ETA 2: Looks like the affected authors are having to walk away from Twitter this morning because of the hate they're receiving. NOT cool.]
[ETA 3: Allegations that Orbit made this decision because of enormous pressure from Amazon. I can respect Orbit's decision even though I disagree with it... But my initial thought at least is that it's none of Amazon's business. Will try to wait and see what news...]