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The Situation

06/03/2008. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy The Situation in the USA - or Buy The Situation in the UK

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UK-based publisher of science fiction, fantasy and horror titles PS Publishing has embraced the Freeconomics revolution with the whole text of Jeff VanderMeer's forthcoming PS novelette-chapbook The Situation being made available in Adobe pdf format, to download from's GeekDad blog. It's coming free and around three weeks before printed copies of their book will see the light of day.

PS Publishing's publisher and editor-in-chief, Peter Crowther, told how the promotion came about, "Jeff was approached by Canadian journalist Brad Moon, who was interested in interviewing him about his current projects. He suggested to us that there might be an opportunity to offer a portion of his new PS title, The Situation, as a download to accompany the interview. After a quick discussion on the subject with the rest of the PS team, I decided that we would make the entire story available for free and the folks at were delighted to go along with the idea."

Crowther freely acknowledges that the free distribution of fiction online is by no means a new concept. Genre authors such as Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow have already blazed the trail in recent years, and publishers including Tor Books and HarperCollins in the US have announced free download programmes in the past few weeks. But this is a first for PS Publishing - and quite possibly for a UK independent genre fiction publisher - and Peter Crowther is eager to see what the end results will be.

"We've set up a landing page at A HREF='' TARGET='_blank'> and we'll be closely monitoring traffic patterns and feedback on the promotion. Given the vast size of's audience and the huge potential for exposure, we're hoping that both the 200-copy limited signed edition of and the standard unsigned edition with almost half of them already committed to pre-order customers will prove to be too good to miss."

Crowther is keen to stress that The Situation itself is an important part of the promotional process. "We think that Jeff's book is absolutely ideal for several reasons, not least because it will definitely appeal to the audience: it's a tale of corporate surrealism that ought to ring true for anyone who's ever found themselves trapped in cubicle hell and struggling to deal with the bewildering pace of technological change. Plus, as a novelette, rather than a full novel, it's ideally priced - at just 7.50 / $15.00 for the standard hardcover, or 15.00 / $30.00 for the signed, limited hardcover so anyone who reads and enjoys the pdf and then wants to add a printed copy to their collection, can do so without breaking the bank."

As to whether or not PS will be making any more titles available as promotional downloads in the future, Crowther is keeping all options open. "We're going to be looking at the results of this promotion very closely indeed, but we're already considering how we might be able to make more varied use of the PS website to get our content out to those folks who might prefer to read our books electronically. The potential for future development is very exciting."

More on this over at, and

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