Weightless Books is an an independent ebooksite devoted to DRM-free ebooks for “(e)Books That Don’t Weigh You Down.” On their site you can subscribe to digital subscriptions of magazines, single issues and books.
Many of Space and Time magazine’s back issues (and the current issue) is available. Choose from ePUB, PDF and MOBI files without adding to your clutter. Marie Kondo would approve.
I recently caught up with founders Gavin J. Grant and Michael J. Deluca to talk about publishing, how to make a book truly wait/weightless and other things of note.
AYS—Weightless Books is such a unique and timely idea. How did you guys come up with the idea?
Michael— Kelly Link gets the credit for the name–which I think we may have had before we thought about anything else? Gavin had been in the habit of peppering me with longshot proposals for pie-in-the-sky technological innovations to generate a sustainable, low-maintenance source of income while also bettering the world of books and readers. This was the idea that stuck–though I expect I said in the initial discussion that (1) it would never compete with Am*zon and (2) it wouldn’t exactly be low maintenance. That was 2010.
AYS—Originally PDFs were your big sellers. Now EPUBs have taken over as the top selling format. What are the benefits of each format, and which do you recommend and prefer?
Michael—PDFs work best for people who want to print and read actual ink and paper–a number of our titles, like NYRSF, are released only in digital format, and there are plenty of people for whom accessibility issues prevent them from reading on an ereader or on screen. For the rest of us, EPUB is a great, open format, with broadly-available free editing tools and some solid options for reading hardware/software. For my money, EPUB is the format of indie ebook publishing aka the resistance.
Michael—We’ve got many of the longest-running and most-awarded genre magazines: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Space and Time of course, OnSpec, Interzone, Black Static, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Locus, the New York Review of Science Fiction, Apex and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, plus some interesting smaller venues like Luna Station Quarterly, Flash Fiction Online, The Dark.
AYS—Besides running Weightless, you both have impressive writing credits. How has the burdens of business affected your writing work?
Michael—Sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle to pull myself away from other work to focus on writing, I admit. Lately I have innovated and am attempting to get up an hour before everybody else in my house and spend that time writing. It works when I don’t sleep through it and my kid doesn’t wake up. Gavin I think is in a similar boat–he invests vast creative effort in editing Small Beer Press books and LCRW and doesn’t have a lot left, and a lot of that goes to his kid.
AYS—One of my favorite features from your site is having a MOBI sent directly to my ereader. What other features do you offer that I may have missed?
Michael—I think the big selling point, compared to the 900-pound gorilla, is that everything we sell is DRM-free and always available to you through our My Library page. We want you to be able to think of them as your books and do with them as you would with a physical book you own. Share them! Just don’t pirate them, please.
AYS—How does Weightless differ from Amazon?
Michael—We are tiny, they are colossal. We pay taxes. Our employees have significantly better working conditions. We’re not attempting to drive anybody else out of business. We pay our publishers ever so slightly better per magazine subscriber. We did not once consider referring to ourselves as Relentless. We relent. We do not employ drones. We are not such fans of theirs, in other words?
AYS—Where do you see the future of publications going? Where do you see Weightless in that picture?
Michael—It seems clear that the ballyhooed death of print that was much talked about for awhile when we started up isn’t coming anytime soon. We’re okay with that, we love print, it’s beautiful and lasts a long time if you treat it well and doesn’t require energy to maintain. We’re content to remain a niche.
Speaking of which: I expect publishing to continue to expand into more and more niches. The internet lets everybody take their gleefully weird interests and find community around them; there is always going to be an accompanying pushback against the homogenizing effects of globalisation. We’re here to celebrate and nurture the local, independent, strange and eclectic.
AYS—Where can we find you besides WeightlessBooks.com?
Michael—I publish Reckoning, an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice. And I’m on twitter @michaeljdeluca. Gavin is of course Small Beer Press, and @smallbeerpress.
Michael J. DeLuca‘s short fiction has appeared, among other places, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Interfictions, Apex Magazine, Clockwork Phoenix, Abyss & Apex and Onirismes. He attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2005, has volunteered at Small Beer Press for longer than he cares to admit, and is a member of The Homeless Moon writers’ cabal. He lives in Michigan, brews beer, bakes bread, hugs trees, and builds websites. Read his blog at michaeljdeluca.com.
Gavin J. Grant is a firm believer in the do-it-yourself. He started a zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, in 1996, cofounded Small Beer Press, an independent publishing house with his wife, Kelly Link, in 2000, and in 2010 launched WeightlessBooks.com, an ebooksite for independent presses. He has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Bookslut, Xerography Debt, Scifiction, The Journal of Pulse Pounding Narratives, and Strange Horizons. He co-edited The Best of LCRW (Del Rey), Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, and for five years co-edited the fantasy half of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (St. Martin’s Press). He lives with his wife and daughter in Massachusetts. More: Flickr, Twitter.