What Is Clonefiles?

Orphan Black’s clone army- via io9

I apologize, readers, for the shortness of this post (1 Job Interview + 1 Assignment + Regular Course Work = 0 Time). I’m going to use this coffee break to quickly summarize Angry Robot’s Clonefiles program, reflect on the reaction (or lack thereof) to their September 3rd announcement, and lay out my plans for my “Clonefiles” series of posts.

Clonefiles is Angry Robot’s initiative to sell print/digital bundles through independent booksellers. When customers purchase an Angry Robot paperback at a participating independent bookstore, they will have the opportunity to download a digital copy of that novel for free. This is an expansion of their 2012 experiment with Clonefiles, which was limited to UK bookstore Mostly Books and proved wildly successful (the 2012 experiment will be the subject of my next post). The 2013 edition of Clonefiles includes seven participating UK bookstores, with four additional establishments expressing interest. Angry Robot plans to announce the participating US bookstores soon.

Angry Robot revealed their plans for expansion at the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), which took place from August 29th through September 2nd. This initial announcement predates their September 3rd press release, which is an important detail because Amazon announced their similar MatchBook program on September 3rd.  While MatchBook took the media by storm, none of this hurried speculation on the effect of print/digital bundles mentioned Clonefiles.

The most logical explanation for this discrepancy might lie in the fact that Amazon is the god emperor of the contemporary book industry. If Amazon tries something new with books, it may set the pace for the future of the industry.  Amazon, love them or hate them, have become important. Angry Robot, while innovative, simply does not have that kind of reach. While MatchBook will be available to millions of customers worldwide upon launch, Clonefiles currently affects only those customers who can get to those seven UK bookstores.

The lack of Clonefiles coverage may come from the fact that the 2012 experiment was heavily publicized.  As I will explain next week, the notion of bundling print and digital books was quite unusual last year, and Angry Robot was one of the very first to play around with that idea. The fact that the full launch of Clonefiles was essentially a…clone…of the 2012 version with added bookstores could explain why the September 3rd announcement didn’t make bigger waves.

There might also be the possibility of snobbery towards genre fiction, which sadly still exists.

A few on the blogosphere did take the time to mention the simultaneous launch of MatchBook and Clonefiles, so it wasn’t entirely ignored. It definitely made a scene during the unveiling at Worldcon, where it was announced in front of fans and authors attending the Hugo Awards. Commenter Steve on the Angry Robot page mentions that spontaneous applause broke out while the announcement was being made. I’m hard-pressed to imagine anyone cheering as they read the press release on Amazon’s homepage.

I’ll continue my coverage of Clonefiles by explaining its history and discussing its importance within the industry. The schedule follows:

1). The 2012 Clonefiles Experiment

2). Why Do the Indies Matter to AR?

3). Who Else Bundles, and Why

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4 Responses to What Is Clonefiles?

  1. Pingback: The 2012 Clonefiles Experiment | The Robot Watcher

  2. Pingback: Who Else Bundles, and Why | The Robot Watcher

  3. Pingback: Angry Robot Announces Plan for Book-Sharing Partnership | The Robot Watcher

  4. Pingback: FINAL POST: The Once and Future Robot | The Robot Watcher

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