Baen Celebrates 20 Years of Independent Science Fiction Publishing

Posted on July 11, 2003

In the current era of publishing mega mergers and consolidation, Jim Baen, president and publisher of Baen Books, is celebrating his independence and twenty years of science fiction publishing. Baen Books is also celebrating having over fifty million copies in print and a dozen New York Times bestsellers.

Baen attributes much of his success to his "small shop, where people come to play." He has been using the Internet to both sell books and find new authors. At their website, baen.com, a down-to-earth atmosphere prevails. Fans, aspiring writers, and several of Baen's top authors are all regulars at Baen's Bar, a science fiction and fantasy oriented chat room. Baen.com also contains an interesting FAQ which provides manuscript submission guidelines and answers to questions about book costs, print runs and book promotion.

While Baen's Bar creates a sense of community for the publisher, it has also served as a talent pool for Baen. New York Post columnist John Ringo added science fiction novels to his body of work after joining an online discussion with Baen and the other "Bar Flies." Ringo's current release, Hell's Faire, is Baen's most recent New York Times bestseller.

Ringo's Hell's Faire, along with several other Baen hardcovers, includes a free "massive value" CD-ROM, a feature Baen has pioneered. The CD-ROM contains un-encrypted texts of over forty books from the Baen backlist, a professional-grade role-playing game, and high-quality art and illustrations.

"I'm not necessarily providing this material out of the goodness of my heart," says Baen. "I expect readers to start in on the novels, but discover that they don't want to continue reading on a computer screen -- then they buy the books in the bookstore."

Another "big gun" in Baen's lineup is David Weber, the author of the Honor Harrington series of military space opera -- with over three and a half million books in print. Other Baen authors include Mercedes Lackey, David Drake, and Elizabeth Moon -- all with over a million copies in print.

In September, Baen will launch Baen Mega Books, a new imprint designed to highlight the backlist. Each month Baen will publish a Mega Book that contains two or more previously published titles that share a theme or a common universe.

"Baen Books are geared to problem-solvers, armchair philosophers, and readers who like to enjoy a rousing adventure that keeps them thinking," says Baen. "We're an old-fashioned publishing house with an old-fashioned mission: to entertain readers, change the world, and earn a rock solid position in the marketplace."



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