Editorial: Last Wheel of Time eBook Will Have a Delayed Release; Will Probably Increase Piracy


In an incredibly stupid decision, the late Robert Jordan’s wife has caused the last Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light, to be delayed until April after the print book is released this week. Originally it was scheduled to be delayed for a full year. According to Galleycat, this has, so far, resulted in 119 one star reviews (now up to 122) on Amazon. I suspect that this one star reviewer’s comment is typical: “I instead will search internet when I get home and will be paying the first industrious individual that has scanned the book and offered for sale.” I think that a lot of people will be looking around certain sites for scanned copies.

The actual author, Brian Sanderson, says that this decision was neither his nor Tor’s. On his blog he states:

This is not my decision or Tor’s decision, but Harriet’s. She is uncomfortable with ebooks. Specifically, she worries about ebooks cutting into the hardcover sales. It isn’t about money for her, as the monetary difference between the two is negligible here. It is about a worry that her husband’s legacy will be undermined if sales are split between ebooks and hardcovers, preventing the last book of the Wheel of Time from hitting number one on either list. (Many of the bestseller lists are still handling ebooks in somewhat awkward ways.)

As the last books have all hit number one, she doesn’t want to risk one of these not hitting number one, and therefore ending the series on a down note. (Even though each Wheel of Time book has sold more than its predecessor, including the ones I have worked on.) I personally feel her worries are unfounded, and have explained that to her, but it is not my choice and I respect her reasoning for the decision. She is just trying to safeguard Robert Jordan’s legacy, and feels this is a very important way she needs to do so. After talking about the issue, we were able to move the ebook up from the originally planned one-year delay to instead come out this spring.

After they came out in ebook form I threw out my collection of the hardcovers (the library didn’t want them) and bought them all in ebook format. As to the last book, given her attitude, I either won’t buy it at all or will find a free copy somewhere. When will people learn that defying the consumer is never a good business tactic. She has probably done more to hurt her husband’s legacy by this ill-conceived action than she can imagine. From now on Robert Jordan’s Memory of Light will be remembered by the reading community as the source of an ebook that the author’s wife didn’t want the public to have. I think I’ll go over to Amazon and, for the first time, leave a 1 star review.

Paul Biba (129 Posts)

is a retired corporate international lawyer who has worked in 53 countries. Since he is a very fast reader he came to ebooks out of self-defense in order to avoid carrying a suitcase of books on his travels around the world. An early ebook adopter, he has read on Palms, Pocket PCs and practically every device that has been out there. After being a frequent contributor to TeleRead.com, the oldest ebook/epublishing blog on the net, Paul became TeleRead's Editor-in-Chief, a position he recently resigned. Send Paul an email to paulkbiba@gmail.com

  • Random author

    Give me what I want or I will steal it. “F– you! I have the right to steal what I want!”

    Look: I understand frustration and sheer stupidity, but what if I came to your house and just started taking your things because you would not be so kind as to put them on Craigslist for me to buy for 99 cents?

    It seems that readers have a sense of entitlement gone wild.

  • Joe Blow

    What does it even mean???

  • Paul Biba

    Getting it from the library would keep any $ out of their dumb hands and wouldn’t be stealing.

    As a general principle, telling someone they can’t have something, and that some other special people can have it, is an invitation for people to take things into their own hands. Territorial restrictions on books are another example of the same thing. “You live in England so you can’t read this book”. That’s a pure invitation to piracy.

  • Patrick Perrault

    Don’t be a child. Sure it sucks, but it will arrive eventually, and it was actually going to be one year instead of just this spring.

  • Tauntoncider

    You should retitle this blog ‘Bad E reader’ judging from this post you’ve constructed. It’s simply cretinise to suggest that people look for illegal alternatives simply because of the author’s caution. Being from a legal background you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Xendula

    Quick correction: the author’s name is Brandon Sanderson, not Brian.

  • Twitch

    I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for ages. It made me wonder why Amazon or B&N didn’t have an e-book pre-order. Now I know. I imagined reading this in e-book format in my commute to work, during breaks at work and generally in everyday situations that see me doing a lot of walking. I did not want to carry such a heavy book hence, my desire to buy the e-book.

    With the e-book unavailable I caved and went to a local book store to buy the hardcover even though I loathed the idea of carrying around a doorstop book.

    It’s not available. I looked for it in another big bookstore and they don’t have it either. In fact, it’s not available in the entire country…

    I dreaded this possibility. I’ve noticed fantasy books seem to have a small market in my country judging by the small selection of the genre bookstores here would carry. This is why I was relying on the e-book being available on Amazon or B&N.

    It is very frustrating and extremely disappointing to have to wait even another day (much less the four months for the e-book or however long before we get the hardcover in local bookstores) after having waited so long to read the last book in an epic series. Sanderson said that Harriet decided on this in a bid to guarantee that her husband, Robert Jordan’s legacy will end on a high note with the last book hitting the top of the best seller’s lists. Instead, her decision caused precisely what she wanted to avoid. Ending the series on a down note. Sales-wise, this may not matter ( the book will probably hit the best sellers in both formats) but to the fans and readers denied the opportunity to read the last book on the day of release, her choice to delay certainly left a sour note.

    Let me repeat that. It is frustrating and disappointing to be unable to read a book that is not yet available in my country when there is a format (e-book) that would have made it available to me if only the publisher (or in this case the editor) had more foresight and trust in new technology.

  • http://twitter.com/ThirdScribe ThirdScribe

    As an avid eReader, I am furious at the decision Harriet has made regarding the final Wheel of Time book. This is for both personal reasons and as a watcher of the industry. It has been proven, time and time again, that the best way to combat piracy is to offer the work in all convenient formats for a fair price. Apple proved this with iTunes, a decade ago. Now, when you search for “Memory of Light eBook” (as I just did) you will not land at Amazon, Nook, iBooks, Play, Sony or Kobo — you will land at the Pirate Bay. Go ahead, try it yourself.

    Tor should have flat out overridden Harriet on this decision, citing the same facts as every other in the industry has. 50 Shades of Grey STARTED as an eBook and became — by far — the highest selling book of this past year (both print and digital). GRRM’s last Dance of Dragons had a simultaneous eBook/Hardback strategy and also became the highest selling book of that year – with many happy fans.

    The decision to spit in the faces of, literally, tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of fans did not preserve her husband’s legacy — it just pissed off a lot of fans. They waited over 20 years for this book — its release should have been a celebration for everyone who has supported the series. Instead, it’s a controversy. And, considering that the number of one star reviews on Amazon currently outnumbers the 5 star ones (again, feel free to check yourself), things are not going as well as, I’m sure, Harriet and Tor had hoped. Is the book selling? Sure it is. But a full 26% of the sci-fi/fantasy market is eReader centered — no need to ask how happy they obviously are not.

    As for the entitlement of fans — who’s the ones paying for the book? These fans have invested in the digital architecture and are more than willing to pay. They aren’t “entitled”, this isn’t crying over a disappointing birthday gift. They are paying customers who have been told they aren’t worthy enough to be sold to. The sense of entitlement doesn’t seem to be coming from the eReader crowd — the only sense I see coming from them is anger, and lots of it. The entitlement seems to be coming from Harriet, who, for some reason, has forgotten that her husband’s work was so successful over the years because of their fans. Take care of the fans and they will take care of the NYT Best Seller list…

  • http://twitter.com/eBookSavings ebookdeals

    Well people definitely want to read the last book on their ereaders and tablets for sure…I guess his wife does not have a full understanding that many people these days have converted to using digital full time. Many people usually would have a book in their purse or briefcase or backpack to read when traveling, waiting on a bus stop, while in school or after school, to take to the park etc…and with the coming of kindle, nook, ipads, and smartphones, many have now adapted and become used to having the ability to take their entire library with them at all times and being able to chose any title they feel like reading. I remember just a few months ago when i knew I had to fly out of town for a meeting, I stopped at the local library (due to my daughter having a school project) and so I decided to check out a few books, something i havent done in a couple years due to all of my gadgets and tablets i use. I saw the newly released steve jobs book and decided hey what the heck why not check it out i should have a lot of time on my hands in the next few days while at home and traveling. So i read a couple chapters and later that week I decided while on my flight i will bring my netbook, my phone, some files I needed for my meeting, and of course the new steve jobs book. Most of you who have read it will understand that it did not turn out to be a fun trip. Let me explain, my netbook weighs about around a pound or so, my files were another pound or so. and my shoulder bag was not that much either. The heavist thing in my bag was yes you guessed it the steve jobs biography, the thing is huge. Would Also to add I decided to bring a couple of other reference books to use while i was on my way to the meeting. Long story short, my shoulder was feeling it just leaving the airport, took the bus once i arrived downtown so again my shoulder was feeling it. What I usually do when traveling and not staying overnight is bring one shoulder bag with my files, and either my laptop or netbook, or sometimes my tablet, either ipad or kindle. What I wished I would have done was do my usual routine and bring my bag, files, and tablet. Its all light, I can bring my entire library with me to read and use as needed, and my shoulder will not take a beating when walking or traveling…

    This is a huge thing that some of the “old timers” are refusing to understand. I do respect her decision it is hers alone, i guess legally for now and that is hers to make. BUT what she has refused to see is that her husband was a writer, A Great One at That. and his fans loved his works, she is worried about getting the book to number one, but i see something else in the background because his books have all sold millions. There was no risk of his books NOT reaching number one in any category….

    Anyways the ebook are out there for any one to buy they are just not available through amazon or barnes and noble at the moment….

  • Guig

    I’m an avid reader of ebooks, but I ordered this one in hardback to complete my collection, however I’ll also get the Kindle version when it comes out as my re-read of the series will be on the iPad.

    As for those people throwing tantrums, crying and stamping their feet i’d just say “grow up, you’re not 5 any more”. You wouldn’t let your child behave like this when they demand a toy, well maybe you would.