A High Seas Conversation with the Robot Trading Company

I believe it was in AudioTim 33, that Robin Sullivan of Ridan Publishing talked with me and Hugh Howey about why publishers don’t just create their own online distribution. She mentioned Pyr books as a good example. It seems like Robot Trading Company may be another, though theirs is more of a collaborative effort among multiple publishing companies. I’ve invited Darren Turpin, Marketing, Publicity and Digital Manager at Angry Robot Books, to help shed light on this new ebook marketplace, both for suppliers and buyers.

Hey, Darren. So I got an email last week from my handy Angry Robot Newsletter that says the Robot Trading Company is expanding. The Robot Trading Company… sounds like an organization of robot pirates out to corner the market on spices. Am I close?

Darren: That’s absolutely right, Tim. If by ‘spices’ you mean ‘DRM-Free, Epub format, genre fiction (and non-fiction) ebooks’. And if by ‘corner the market’ you mean ‘bring as wide a selection of top-notch, professionally published ebooks from small and independent genre publishers to the attention of as wide an audience as we possibly can’. But robot pirates..? Definitely (and we have the heavily weaponised robot parrots and HUD targeting eye-patches to prove it.) Although we are completely legitimate online retailers, not ‘pirates’ in the Pirate Bay kinda sense. But those minor details aside, you’ve hit the nail on the head, exactly.

Aside from having their eyes pecked out by weaponized parrots and ships blown to smithereens by your HUD targeting eye-patches, what benefits would small and independent genre publishers gain from joining your growing fleet?

Darren: We’d like to think that the main advantage we’re offering is our focus: we’re only going to be selling pro-published (i.e. curated, edited, represented) genre-interest ebooks and we’re not going to be opening our doors to all and sundry: no mainstream literary stuff, no home-gourmet cookbooks and definitely no “celebrity” biographies. Plus: we’re all genre fans here at Angry Robot and have been since long before any of us got into the publishing business, so this is most definitely a webstore that’s by the fans, for the fans. Come to the Robot Trading Company and you’ll only see ebooks that are relevant and interesting to a genre audience.

And we have a really cool logo, with a robot on it. What’s not to like?

Nothing… I like keeping my eyes and ship in stable condition. Who has teamed up with the RTC so far? And how can interested parties find out more?

Darren: It’s very early days yet, but so far we’ve been joined by Infinity Plus Books, run by Keith Brooke of Infinity Plus fame – one of the great pioneers of online genre magazine content – and Anarchy Books, run by the irrepressible Andy Remic, who is also an Angry Robot author. Between them they’ve added a great range of new material to the site from authors brand new and very firmly established alike. We’re currently talking to more publishers and have over a hundred on our target list to talk to if they’re interested in hearing from us. But anyone who might like to jump the queue can find out more information on our FAQ page: http://www.robottradingcompany.com/faqs.html#supplying-ebooks

How can we help support and find out more about RTC news?

Darren: If you’d like to find out more about the RTC, then visiting the site is a great way to start, or you could follow us on Twitter (@RobotTradingCo), Like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/robottradingco) or join our mailing list (http://www.robottradingcompany.com/mailinglist.html), any or all of which would be most appreciated. And, get in touch! Tell us what you’d like to see in the store, send feedback on your shopping experiences with us, anything like that. The more we hear from our customers and potential customers, the more we can improve over time.

Well, I can’t see why people wouldn’t want to team up on such an endeavor. What is your dream for RTC’s addition to the ebook market?

Then I think we can wrap it up. Thanks for stopping by and for all your work at Angry Robot. I’m a big fan and am glad you guys are helping expand DRM-free ebooks worldwide.

We certainly hope a a good number of our fellow genre publishers might be interested. And in terms of our plans and dreams we’ll be happiest if the Robot Trading Company grows to become an established fixture on the genre ebook scene, with a fantastic catalogue of titles and an enormous customer base of happy genre ebook buyers. And thank you very much indeed for helping us get the word out and bring those plans and dreams to the attention of a wider audience.



Thank you, Darren. Always a pleasure chatting. Speaking of DRM-free, I was listening to the latest Once and Future Podcast, and host, Anton Strout, has a great interview with John Scalzi about benefits of DRM-free ebooks and his new book Redshirts (which is the first DRM-free release from Tor books). John also talks about people pooping on his carpet, and how he had a song made for his book. So, I thought I’d share the You Tube video as well (of the song, not the carpet…).

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former executive producer and Hugo Nominee of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. He has been broke and lost on the other side of the world and now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. This summer, he released his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant, and a new series that begins with Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up for his newsletter for news, sales, giveaways and more: http://www.timothycward.com/newsletter/.

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