Baen Books

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Baen Books
Baen Books logo.png
Founder Jim Baen
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters location Wake Forest, North Carolina
Distribution Simon & Schuster (US) [1]
Diamond Book Distributors (UK) [2]
Key people Toni Weisskopf
Publication typesBooks
Fiction genres Science fiction, fantasy
Official website

Baen Books ( /ˈbn/ ) is an American publishing house for science fiction and fantasy. In science fiction, it emphasizes space opera, hard science fiction, and military science fiction. The company was established in 1983 by science fiction publisher and editor Jim Baen. After his death in 2006, he was succeeded as publisher by long-time executive editor Toni Weisskopf.



Baen Books was founded in 1983 out of a negotiated agreement between Jim Baen and Simon & Schuster. Simon & Schuster was undergoing massive reorganization and wanted to hire Baen to head and revitalize the science fiction line of its Pocket Books division. Baen, with financial backing from some friends, counteroffered with a proposal to start up a new company named Baen Books and provide Simon & Schuster with a science fiction line to distribute instead. [3]

According to Locus's 2004 Book Summary, [4] Baen Books was the ninth most active publisher in the U.S. in terms of most books published in the genres indicated, and the fifth most active publisher of the dedicated science fiction imprints, publishing a total of 67 titles (of which 40 were original titles). It is difficult to judge the issue of quality but, based on the number of times a title published by Baen Books appeared in the bestseller lists produced by the major bookselling chains, it is ranked the seventh most popular science fiction publisher. In 2005, Baen moved up to the eighth position in the total books published with 72 books published (of which 40 were original titles). [5]

Electronic publishing

Beginning in mid-1999, Baen emphasized electronic publishing and Internet-focused promotions for its publications. The discussions on Baen's bar convinced him to do so. [6] Baen's electronic strategy is explained exhaustively in a series of "letters" or "essays" called The Prime Palaver by Baen Free Library "First Librarian" Eric Flint, [7] but in a nutshell, emphasizes distribution of unencrypted digital versions of its works free of Digital Rights Management copy protection schemes through Baen Ebooks (formerly Webscriptions, which was not formally part of Baen Books, but in effect an independent e-publisher). Baen and his successors believe that DRM does more harm than good to a publisher. Consequently, Baen also makes its entire catalog available in multiple formats for downloading and typically prices electronic versions of its books at or below that of paperback editions—and makes a profit doing it. [6] According to essays on Baen's science fiction e-magazine Jim Baen's Universe, also edited by Flint, the strategy is if anything, getting stronger and more fruitful with the passage of time, especially with the advent of e-book readers such as the Amazon Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble Nook.[ citation needed ]

Baen's Bar

Initially, the company invested resources in "Baen's Bar", its online community service that provides a forum for customers, authors, and editors to interact, beginning as a BBS. In the early 2000s, a blogger wrote: "Like every other publisher, Jim Baen set up a website. But several of his authors and fan friends convinced him to put a chat client on his site. Since he was interested, and since several of those authors (like Jerry Pournelle, a former columnist for Byte Magazine , for instance) were very Internet savvy, he did. The chat client grew into an incredibly vibrant community called Baen's Bar." [6]

On February 15, 2021, American author Jason Sanford posted via Patreon "Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence". [8] Publisher Toni Weisskopf released a statement saying the Bar will remain closed pending an investigation. [9] The site was reopened on April 9, 2021. [10]

Baen's Webscriptions

In addition to selling individual titles in electronic format, Baen has distributed serialized e-book versions of new books at reduced prices in monthly bundles. Originally called Webscriptions, these Monthly Baen Bundles are scheduled three months in advance of print publication. was implemented by Baen's preferred website expert, Arnold Bailey, who also sold e-books for other publishers. At the start of 2012, the website was redesigned, renamed to Baen Ebooks, and moved to Despite the new name, Baen Ebooks continues to sell e-books for other publishers, notably science fiction genre rival Night Shade Books.

Baen's standard setup is based on monthly bundles. Each month, whichever books Baen has coming out in paper (paperback or hardcover, new or reissued) are bundled put together in a fixed price (currently $18) bundle regardless of the number of books (historically 4–9 books, average 5–6). The Monthly Baen Bundles are released in installments beginning three months prior to physical publication. The first installment, released three months prior to paper publication includes roughly a half of every book in the bundle, with some books usually included in their entirety. The second installment, two months prior to print publication includes roughly three quarters, and the third installment on the 16th of the month prior to official print release includes the full text. The first two installments are generally available only as HTML, while the last includes all formats supported. Each bundle can only be bought until the 15th of the month prior to official print publication, which is about the time the printed books reach retailers. [11] (Until December 2012, bundles remained on sale indefinitely.)

Another avenue for distribution that Baen uses for some of its new titles is the offering of eARCs (electronic advance reading copies) 3 to 5 months prior to publication. Marketed as a premium product for the fans who absolutely positively have to read it now, they are priced at $15 per single title and can differ from the final text (as they are electronic proofs). After print publication, the "cleaned up and finalized" electronic copy is available both online through the monthly bundle or as a single title (priced variably $7–10, older titles are less). [11]

The electronic versions by Baen are produced in five common formats (HTML, Palm Pilot/Mobipocket/Kindle format, Rocketbook, EPUB/Stanza, Sony LRF, RTF, and MS Reader versions), all unencrypted in drastic contrast to the rest of the e-publishing industries strategy. Jim Baen disliked Adobe's portable document format for reading purposes, but Baen Ebooks offers some non-Baen titles in that format. When customers purchase a title from Baen, they can read it online or download it in any format they want as often as they want. Baen instituted a parallel practice of using promotional CD-ROMs with permissive copyright licenses containing many of its stable of authors' works. Whether downloaded or by CD-ROM, the source material is available in all the formats Baen supports.

The great majority of books published by Baen are still available as e-books, long after the hardcover or paperback versions have gone out of print. This is especially important for midlist titles, which rarely get reprinted. Until December 2012, it was also possible to purchase older monthly bundles.

Baen has made liberal use of free content in its marketing efforts. For example, free sample chapters of its books are typically available on the Baen Web site. The "Baen Free Library" allows free access to dozens of titles from the company's backlist, often the first book published in a series by a Baen author. Baen also provides free electronic copies of its books to readers who are blind, paralyzed, dyslexic, or are amputees.

Baen's emphasis on electronic publishing has generated press coverage for the company. In 2001, Wired magazine described Webscriptions as "innovative". [12] Charles N. Brown, publisher of Locus magazine, has praised Baen's approach in an interview in The New York Times , saying "Baen has shown that putting up electronic versions of books doesn't cost you sales. It gains you a larger audience for all of your books. As a result, they've done quite well." [13]

Magazine experiments

Baen's first run at magazine-style book publishing took place in the late 1970s, in the form of Destinies , [14] a quarterly 'bookazine' that featured fiction and non-fiction by well-known and new authors that Baen was promoting. It was published by Ace, where Baen was employed at the time. Under the aegis of Baen Books in the 1980s, he published two more bookazine series. The first was Far Frontiers. [15] The second was New Destinies , [14] edited by Baen, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Michael A. Banks.

The Grantville Gazettes

Baen's began the experimental publication of The Grantville Gazette , an e-magazine anthology series specifically related to the popular Ring of Fire alternate history plenum. The Gazettes are professionally edited and approved fan fiction. They are published on a regular schedule and available individually at Baen Books or Amazon, or by subscription. [16]

Jim Baen's Universe

In the early 2000s, Baen tried magazine-like publishing again, establishing two self-sustaining e-zine enterprises with a separate staff for each, both spearheaded by Eric Flint: Jim Baen's Universe [17] [18] and the Grantville Gazette [16] series, which was reconfigured after Grantville Gazette V .

The general audience speculative fiction anthology Baen's Universe is available only online. At approximately 120,000 words, this latter publication is unusually large when compared to most traditional print editions of science fiction magazines, and the average size of the newly reconfigured Gazettes is similarly generous.

Baen Digital Object Identifiers (DOI)

From 1999 to 2011, Baen's e-books were produced by Webscriptions under contract for Baen Books in various (at least five) common digital formats. Because these multiple formats complicate the issue of identifying electronic versions, Baen and Webscriptions did not use DOIs to identify their e-books (even though some of their books had DOIs). The electronic e-ARC practices also complicate things in "publications dates", since the first released text starts two to three months before the release of the print copy, though the released text is not guaranteed to fully copy edited—and so occasionally differs from the final released fully copy-edited versions. Thus, like the Grantville Gazettes the e-publication date antedates the print copy by about two months—the interval before the release of the last third and the hardcover print edition is simultaneously released.

Authors and works


Authors whose works have been published by Baen include the following:


Series published by Baen include the following:

Related Research Articles

The Baen Free Library is a digital library of the science fiction and fantasy publishing house Baen Books where 61 e-books as of June 2016 can be downloaded free in a number of formats, without copy protection. It was founded in late 1999 by science fiction writer Eric Flint and publisher Jim Baen to determine whether the availability of books free of charge on the Internet encourages or discourages the sale of their paper books.

Eric Flint American author, editor, and e-publisher (1947–2022)

Eric Flint was an American author, editor, and e-publisher. The majority of his main works are alternate history science fiction, but he also wrote humorous fantasy adventures. His works have been listed on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Locus magazine best seller lists. He was a co-founder and editor of the Baen Free Library.

Jim Baen American science fiction publisher and editor

James Patrick Baen was a U.S. science fiction publisher and editor. In 1983, he founded his own publishing house, Baen Books, specializing in the adventure, fantasy, military science fiction, and space opera genres. Baen also founded the video game publisher, Baen Software. In late 1999, he started an electronic publishing business called Webscriptions, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book vendor.

<i>1632</i> (novel) 2000 novel by Eric Flint

1632 is the initial novel in the best-selling alternate history book series, "1632", written by American historian, writer, and editor Eric Flint and published in February 2000.

<i>The Grantville Gazette</i>

The Grantville Gazette is the first of a series of professionally selected and edited paid fan fiction anthologies set within the 1632 series inspired by Eric Flint's novel 1632. The electronically published the Grantville Gazettes, which are reaching long novel length with regularity, now make up the majority of the series in terms of words in print. Flint as series owner and editor accounts all as canonical. The Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) recognizes published stories within the Gazettes as qualified credentials for membership—which membership requires a writer to have three published works as prerequisites.

<i>1632</i> series Novel series

The 1632 series, also known as the 1632-verse or Ring of Fire series, is an alternate history book series and sub-series created, primarily co-written, and coordinated by American author Eric Flint and published by Baen Books.

<i>Worlds</i> (book)

Worlds is a collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories by Eric Flint. It was first published in hardcover and ebook format by Baen Books on February 1, 2009; a paperback edition was issued by the same publisher in October 2011.

Edward M. Lerner is an American author of science fiction, techno-thrillers, and popular science.

The Grantville Gazettes are anthologies of short stories set in the 1632 universe introduced in Eric Flint's novel 1632 that is primarily published as a bi-monthly electronic magazine.

<i>Grantville Gazette II</i>

Grantville Gazette II is the third collaborative anthology published in print set in the 1632-verse shared universe in what is best regarded as a canonical sub-series of the popular alternate history that began with the February 2000 publication of the hardcover novel 1632 by author-historian Eric Flint. Baen Books and Flint decline the distinction, counting this book as the sixth published work. Overall it is also the third anthology in printed publication in the atypical series, which consists of a mish-mash of main novels and anthologies produced under popular demand after publication of the initial novel, which was written as a stand-alone work.

<i>Grantville Gazette III</i>

The Grantville Gazette III is the third collaborative and the fourth anthology in the 1632 series edited by the series creator, Eric Flint. It was published as an e-book by Baen Books in October 2004. It was released as a hardcover in January 2007, and trade paperback in June 2008 with both editions containing Flint's story "Postage Due".

<i>Jim Baens Universe</i>

Jim Baen's Universe (JBU) was a bimonthly online fantasy and science fiction magazine created by Jim Baen. It was recognized by the SFWA as a Qualifying Short Fiction Venue. JBU began soliciting materials in January 2006 and launched in June 2006. The magazine contained around 120,000 to 150,000 words per issue. It closed in 2010.

Toni Weisskopf American editor and science fiction writer

Toni Weisskopf is an American science fiction editor and the publisher of Baen Books. She has been nominated four times for a Hugo Award. She has won the Phoenix Award, the Rebel Award, and the Neffy Award for best editor. She uses the nom de plume T. K. F. Weisskopf as an anthology editor.

Clarence Howard "Bud" Webster was an American science fiction and fantasy writer who is also known for his essays on both the history of science fiction and sf/fantasy anthologies as well. He is perhaps best known for the Bubba Pritchert series, which have won two Analytical Laboratory readers' awards from Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine. Farewell Blues was featured on the cover of the January/February 2015 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Webster is also known for his survey of Groff Conklin's contribution to science fiction in 41 Above the Rest: An Index and Checklist for the Anthologies of Groff Conklin.

Sharon Lee is an American science fiction, fantasy and mystery author who lived in Winslow, Maine from 1988-2018 before moving to nearby Waterville. She is the co-author of the Liaden universe novels and stories, as well as other works, and individually the author of several mystery and fantasy novels.

Baen Ebooks is an e-book supplier operated by Baen Books. It sells e-books for Baen and some other publishers, as well as hosting the Baen Free Library. Unlike most e-book suppliers, it does not use Digital Rights Management. Purchasers can download the same e-book in seven different formats, even long after the initial purchase. Their range of genres offered is heavy on science fiction and fantasy.

The Assiti Shards series is a fictional universe invented by American author Eric Flint. It is a shared universe open to authors of many calibre levels, concerning several alternate history worlds, related to a prime timeline. The defining characteristic of the fictional universe is the existence of the "Assiti Shards effect", and the impact that strikes by Assiti Shards have on characters in the stories. The series is rather large and expansive, having started publication in 2000, and as of 2008, consisting of 15 print books, and 21 e-magazine anthologies, in two different published timelines of the same multiverse.

Steve Miller is an American science fiction writer from Waterville, Maine, best known for his works set in the Liaden universe, written in collaboration with his wife Sharon Lee.

This is complete list of works by American science fiction and historical fiction author Eric Flint.


  1. "Our Clients | Simon & Schuster Distribution Services".
  2. "Our Publishers".
  3. "JIM BAEN October 22, 1943 – June 28, 2006" Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine , Baen's obituary by David Drake,
  4. Locus, February 2005. Vol. 54, No. 2, pp. 50–54.
  5. Locus, February 2006, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 50–53.
  6. 1 2 3 Boyes, Walt. "Baen's Bar, A Successful Community". The Learning Fountain. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2007.
  7. The Prime Palaver
  8. Sanford, Jason (February 15, 2021). "Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence". Patreon . Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  9. Mike Glyer (February 15, 2021). "Weisskopf Announces Hiatus for Baen's Bar". File 770 . Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  10. Weisskopf, Toni (April 9, 2021). "What I Saw at the Bar 2021". Archived from the original on May 7, 2021. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  11. 1 2 "Baen Print Newsletter". December 2012. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  12. Rose, M.j. (March 13, 2001). "Authors to Protest Amazon". Wired . Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  13. O'Connell, Pamela Licalzi (March 19, 2001). "Publisher's Web Books Spur Hardcover Sales". The New York Times . ISSN   0362-4331. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  14. 1 2 "Culture : Destinies : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  15. "Culture : Far Frontiers : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  16. 1 2 "About Us". The Grantville Gazette. February 2019. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  17. "Culture : Jim Baen's Universe : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  18. Flint, Eric (May 20, 2008). The Best of Jim Baen's Universe. ISBN   978-1416555582.