Jim Baen

James Patrick Baen (| beɪn |; October 22, 1943 – June 28, 2006) 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.[1] In late 1999, he started an electronic publishing business called Webscriptions (since renamed to Baen Ebooks), which is considered to be the first profitable e-book vendor.

James Patrick "Jim" Baen
BornOctober 22, 1943
DiedJune 28, 2006 (aged 62)
OccupationScience fiction Publisher and Editor


Jim Baen was born in Pennsylvania. He left his stepfather's home at the age of 17 and lived on the streets for several months before joining the United States Army; he served in Bavaria.

After stints at City College of New York and as the manager of a folk music coffee shop (a "basket house") in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, he started his publishing career in the complaints department of Ace Books. In 1972, he got the job of an assistant Gothics editor.[2]

Magazine editor

Baen was Judy-Lynn del Rey's replacement as managing editor at Galaxy Science Fiction in 1973. He succeeded Ejler Jakobsson as editor of Galaxy and If in 1974. While at Galaxy (which absorbed If from 1975) he largely revitalised it, publishing such authors as Jerry Pournelle, Charles Sheffield, Joanna Russ, Spider Robinson, Algis Budrys, and John Varley, and was nominated for several Hugo Awards.

Pournelle, in 1983, described Baen as "arguably one of the best science-fiction editors in the world. Certainly Larry Niven and I regard him among the top two or three we've ever worked with".[3] Robert A. Heinlein dedicated his 1985 novel The Cat Who Walks Through Walls to Baen and eight of the other members of the Citizens' Advisory Council on National Space Policy.[4][5]

Book publishing

In 1977, he returned to Ace to head their science fiction line, working with publisher Tom Doherty. When Doherty left to start Tor Books in 1980, Baen shortly followed and started the SF line there.

In 1983, he had the opportunity to start his own independent company, Baen Books, distributed then and now by Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster; this was possible in part thanks to release from a long-term contract by his good friend Doherty.

Baen Books has grown steadily since and established a large readership among fans of accessible adventure SF, publishing books by authors such as David Weber, John Ringo, Eric Flint, David Drake, Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Niven, and many more. According to Eric Flint's "Editor's Page" Column just after Baen's death, once tiny Baen Books had been voted the second most looked for "label" among science-fiction fans – up from fourth in 2004 and seventh in 2003. The rapid growth was credited as being due to Jim Baen's electronic marketing strategy – by seeming to court piracy, ignoring encryption, and by giving away free titles on CD-ROM (See "Electronic marketing strategy" under Baen Books), by offering bundled "bargain samplers" and e-ARCs – Baen's e-marketing pulled in sales. People could sample the wares, decide they liked it, and pick up a tangible book to read – which given the series orientation of the SF genre, translated into more than one book. In short, even as the average small town library is trimming titles carried and stocking up on audio-visual media, Baen took advantage of technology to counteract the former "boost" gotten from libraries buying titles and keeping them around.

Even more than had been the case at Ace and Tor, Jim was his own art director at Baen Books—and he really directed rather than viewing his job as one of coddling artists. Baen Books gained a distinct look. Like the book contents, the covers weren't to everyone's taste—but they worked.

Jim had the advantage over some editors in that he knew what a story is. He had the advantage over most editors in being able to spot talent before somebody else had published it. (Lois Bujold, Eric Flint, John Ringo and Dave Weber were all Baen discoveries whom Jim promoted to stardom.)

Furthermore, he never stopped developing new writers. The week before his stroke, Jim bought a first novel from a writer whom Baen Books had been grooming through short stories over the past year.

The most important thing of all which Jim brought to his company was a personal vision. Baen Books didn't try to be for everybody, but it was always true to itself. In that as in so many other ways, the company mirrored Jim himself.[6]

Early anthology series

Baen edited several anthology series in paperback format, trying to combine the feeling of an anthology and a magazine. To achieve this, they were numbered and dated like a magazine and contained many magazine features: Destinies (Ace, 11 issues 1978-81), Far Frontiers (Baen, 7 issues 1985-6), and New Destinies (Baen, 8 issues numbered I to IV and VI to IX 1987-90). He also edited several volumes of reprints from Galaxy and If in the 1970s.


After hearing Pournelle praise writing with a computer, Baen purchased an IBM PC in the early 1980s. Disliking the layout of the IBM PC keyboard, he commissioned and published Magic Keyboard, a utility to remap its keys.[3] Baen started an experimental web publishing business called Webscriptions in late 1999. (It was relaunched as Baen Ebooks at the start of 2012.) Unlike other eBook publishers, Baen flatly refused to use encryption or even Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF), regarding Digital Rights Management as harmful not just to readers but also to authors and publishers. This stance was quite controversial at the time, but Baen Book's hardcover sales numbers have soared in direct relation to the number of titles available as inexpensive e-books, while the competition's remained flat or declined in the same period. As another measure, in comparison, e-royalties paid by Baen run circa 5% of a hardcover royalty over the same period, other publishers have paid out less than 1% comparatively on average — typical period numbers are a difference of four figures to two figures in e-royalties.[7] Critics at the time also dismissed the e-book market as too small. Instead, it is one of the few such enterprises which regularly turn a profit, breaking even in its first year.

These innovations earned him respect in the technological community, and increasing disbelief in the publishing trade with perhaps the best comment of all – others began to mimic him, or place e-titles with Webscriptions themselves. One such title was even offered by Webscriptions using the despised (by J. Baen) Adobe PDF format, at its publishers insistence. Webscriptions is generally considered to be both the first e-books-for-money service whose product completely lacks encryption (in fact, Webscriptions makes each book available in a wide range of openly readable formats) and one of the first e-book publishing services to become profitable. (Indeed, it broke even in its first year and is likely the most profitable such service). In the words of David Drake, a writer with more than fifty books published:

The two books Jim most remembered as formative influences were Fire-Hunter by Jim Kjelgaard and Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C Clarke. The theme of both short novels is that a youth from a decaying culture escapes the trap of accepted wisdom and saves his people despite themselves. This is a fair description of Jim's life in SF: he was always his own man, always a maverick, and very often brilliantly successful because he didn't listen to what other people thought.

For example, the traditional model of electronic publishing required that the works be encrypted. Jim thought that just made it hard for people to read books, the worst mistake a publisher could make. His e-texts were clear and in a variety of common formats.

While e-publishing has been a costly waste of effort for others, Baen Books quickly began earning more from electronic sales than it did from Canada. By the time of Jim's death, the figure had risen to ten times that.[6]

Free ebooks

Along with Webscriptions, Baen created the Baen Free Library, where authors can make books available free of charge in the hope of attracting new readers. Though some scoffed at the idea of the free library, giving away ebooks turned out to increase sales.

Stance on DRM

Baen's e-books did not use encryption or Digital Rights Management (DRM). Baen was an outspoken opponent of DRM, regarding it as harmful to publishers and authors as well as readers.

With his death, many other publishers have come to agree with his methods and principles. His stance on DRM is considered to still have been the most extreme among mainstream publishers, but has grown in credibility over time. Eric Flint, who has been called "Baen's Bulldog" on the DRM/Copy protection controversy believes that Jim Baen's legacy will be the impact on the DRM issue, and that Baen will have saved society from the rapaciousness of big corporations because Jim Baen had the courage of convictions to spit in the face of encryption, and moreover, prove that non-encrypted, non-DRM-protected intellectual materials actually give a sales boost—exactly the opposite of the conventional wisdom.[7]

Forum participation and e-ARCs

Jim Baen was very active on the web forum of the Baen website, called Baen's Bar, which he started in May 1997; his interests included evolutionary biology, space technology, politics, military history, and puns.

Baen's activity on the forums actually led to John Ringo becoming a published novelist. Ringo was a longtime participant in Baen's Bar and had gotten to know Baen by discussing topics like the aquatic ape hypothesis. Although his novel A Hymn Before Battle had been rejected, he mentioned he had submitted it and it had been rejected when Baen told him the manuscript had been lost. Baen took a look at the manuscript, fired the reader who had rejected it, and told Ringo that if he made certain edits, Baen would buy it.[8]

Another result of such interaction is that the barflies, the customers frequenting the site actually talked Jim Baen into charging more for the e-book variation on the publishing trades' Advance reading copy — (sampler packages of five books) the house was offering called e-ARCs ("Advanced Reader Copies", emphasis on benefit to the "Reader"). Jim Baen would have been glad to break even on the e-biz, for he was firmly convinced the increased exposure would lead to increased sales, and it took only three years to prove it beyond much doubt, and about as long before even the competition could no longer deny the successes.

The last half-decade

In 2000, Baen was the editor guest of honor at Chicon 2000, that year's Worldcon. With the interest shown in Flint's 1632 series, he set up a second talk forum for the new writer, one specialized to the buzz of 1632-verse called 1632 Tech Manual. The fans wanted a sequel, "yesterday", the research was daunting, so he advised the fledgling writer to open up the universe, to make it a shared universe long before the "normal point" in a fictional universe life-cycle; Flint was willing to gamble, and the result was Ring of Fire, but in the meantime Baen had paired best selling author David Weber with the emerging mid-list author Flint in a five-book contract and the resulting 1633 created a new cycle of buzz and interest.

Flint suggested creating an e-zine to carry some of the fan fiction submitted for Ring of Fire or created subsequently. Baen took the risk, adapting his e-ARC system and Webscriptions for a magazine format. The result was The Grantville Gazettes. Baen Books subsequently published some of the stories as hardcopy anthologies; the fourth of those volumes was the last book Baen bought from Flint.

Jim Baen's Universe

Jim Baen's Universe-JBU logo 2000
Jim Baen's Universe logo

In late 2005 Baen announced plans for a bimonthly online science fiction magazine, which was originally named Baen's Astounding Stories. After concerns over trademark infringement with Dell Magazines (publisher of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, which was originally titled Astounding Stories), it was renamed Jim Baen's Universe. The magazine, edited by Eric Flint, published its first issue in June 2006, authors contracted including David Drake and Timothy Zahn.

In August 2009, Baen's Universe announced that they would be closing down the magazine due to financial issues, stating "we were simply never able to get and retain enough subscribers to put us on a sales plateau that would allow us to continue publishing". [1]

Jim Baen had two daughters, Jessica (1977) with his wife of sixteen years, Madeline Gleich, and Katherine (1992) with Toni Weisskopf.[9] He apparently had a premonition of his own death[10] and suffered a massive bilateral thalamus stroke on June 12, 2006. He died on June 28 at Raleigh, North Carolina, without again regaining consciousness.[11] [12] According to Flint, he did get to see the first issue of his magazine before passing.



  1. ^ Baen Software Rose and Fell While Barely Making a Sci-Fi Splash
  2. ^ The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
  3. ^ a b Pournelle, Jerry (June 1983). "Zenith Z-100, Epson QX-10, Software Licensing, and the Software Piracy Problem". BYTE. 8 (6). p. 411. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  4. ^ Heinlein, Robert A (1986). The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. New England Library. ISBN 0-450-39315-1.
  5. ^ Heinlein’s Dedications Page Jane Davitt & Tim Morgan Accessed August 20 2008
  6. ^ a b "JIM BAEN October 22, 1943 - June 28, 2006" Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Baen's obituary by David Drake, david-drake.com.
  7. ^ a b Eric Flint (August 2006). "The Legacy of Jim Baen: Jim Baen's Universe, 2 Vol 1 Num 2". Archived from the original on 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  8. ^ The World According to Quinn: John Ringo and Deidre Knight on Writing
  9. ^ Jim Baen Archived 2006-07-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Obituary Archived February 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. by David Drake
  11. ^ Making Light: Jim Baen
  12. ^ Whatever: Jim Baen

External links

Arsen Darnay

Arsen Julius Darnay (born July 31, 1936 in Budapest) is a Hungarian-American science fiction writer.

Darnay emigrated to the United States in 1953. His first science fiction stories were published in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1974–75, after being purchased by editor Jim Baen; Mike Ashley has estimated that of all Baen's discoveries, Darnay was "the most prolific (...) at least for the next four years before he moved on to become a management consultant."

Baan (surname)

Baan is a Dutch surname with a variety of origins. Variant forms are Baans, Baen, De Baan, De Baen and Van der Baan. It can be patronymic, where Baan or Bane may be, among others, a short form of Urbanus. Alternatively, given that Dutch baan can mean "lane" or "track", it may be a toponymic or metonymic occupational surname, referring e.g. to a kaatser or road maker. People with this name include:


David Baan (1908–1984), Dutch boxer

Iwan Baan (born 1975), Dutch photographer

Jan Baan (born 1946), Dutch entrepreneur and venture capitalist, brother of Paul

Paul Baan (born 1951), Dutch entrepreneur and venture capitalist, brother of Jan

Baan Corporation, software company founded by Jan and Paul Baan

Pieter Baan (1912–1975), Dutch forensic psychiater, namesake of the Pieter Baan Centre

Rob Baan (born 1943), Dutch football coachBaans

Madelon Baans (born 1977), Dutch breaststroke swimmerBaen

Jim Baen (1943–2006), American science fiction publisher and editor (Baen Books)De Baan / De Baen

Jan de Baan or de Baen (1633–1702), Dutch portrait painter

Jacobus de Baan or de Baen (1673–1700), Dutch portrait painter, son of Jan

Baen Books

Baen Books 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 Ebooks

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 (i.e., copy protection). Purchasers can download the same e-book in seven different formats (BBeB, EPUB, HTML, Microsoft Reader Mobipocket, Rocketbook, and RTF), even long after the initial purchase. Their range of genres offered is heavy on science fiction and fantasy.

Baen Free Library

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 (112 e-books as of December 2008) 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.The Baen Free Library represents an experiment in the field of intellectual property and copyright. It appears that sales of both the e-books made available free and other books by the same author, even from a different publisher, increase when the electronic version is made available free of charge.Baen Ebooks also sells individual e-books and a subscription-based e-book program. The books in the Free Library are available via the website for Baen Ebooks in various formats including HTML, Rich Text Format, and EPUB as well as unencrypted .mobi for Kindle.

Charles Sheffield

Charles Sheffield (25 June 1935 – 2 November 2002) was an English-born mathematician, physicist and science fiction writer who served as a President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and of the American Astronautical Society.His novel The Web Between the Worlds, featuring the construction of a space elevator, was published almost simultaneously with Arthur C. Clarke's novel on the subject, The Fountains of Paradise, a coincidence that amused them both. Excerpts from both Sheffield's The Web Between the Worlds and Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise have appeared recently in a space elevator anthology Towering Yarns.

Sheffield served as Chief Scientist of Earth Satellite Corporation, a company that processed remote sensing satellite data. The association gave rise to many technical papers and two popular non-fiction books, Earthwatch and Man on Earth, both collections of false-colour and enhanced images of Earth from space.

He won the Nebula and Hugo awards for his novelette "Georgia on My Mind" and the 1992 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for his novel Brother to Dragons.Sheffield was Toastmaster at BucConeer, the 1998 World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore.

Before he died, he was writing a column for the Baen Books web site; his last column concerned the discovery of the brain tumour that led to his death.

Ejler Jakobsson

Ejler Jakobsson (December 6, 1911 – October 1984) was a Finnish-born science fiction editor.

Jakobsson moved to the United States in 1926 and began a career as an author in the 1930s. He worked on Astonishing Stories and Super Science Stories briefly before they shut down production due to paper shortages. When Super Science Stories was revived in 1949, Jakobson was named editor until it ended publication two years later. Jakobsson returned to editing in 1969, when he took over Galaxy and If, succeeding Frederik Pohl. He worked to make the magazines more contemporary with the help of Judy-Lynn del Rey and Lester del Rey. He left the magazines in 1974 and was succeeded by Jim Baen.

Eric Flint

Eric Flint (born February 6, 1947) is an American author, editor, and e-publisher. The majority of his main works are alternate history science fiction, but he also writes humorous fantasy adventures. His works have been listed on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Locus Magazine best seller lists.

Fallen Angels (science fiction novel)

Fallen Angels (1991) is a science fiction novel by American science fiction authors Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn published by Jim Baen. The winner of 1992 Prometheus Award, the novel was written as a tribute to science fiction fandom, and includes many of its well-known figures, legends, and practices. It also champions modern technology and heaps scorn upon its critics - budget cutting politicians, fringe environmentalists and the forces of ignorance. An ebook of this text was among the first released by the Baen Free Library.

The novel takes aim at several targets of ridicule: Senator William Proxmire, radical environmentalists and mystics, such as one character who believes that one cannot freeze to death in the snow because ice is a crystal and "crystals are healing." It also mocks ignorance in journalism, which greatly helps the main characters (for example, one "expert" cited in a news article believes that the astronauts must have superhuman strength, based on a photograph of a weightless astronaut easily handling heavy construction equipment) and the non-scientific world in general. Several real people are tuckerized into the book in a more positive light, including many fans who made donations to charity for that express purpose and a character called "RMS" (presumably Richard M. Stallman) who leads a network of hackers called the Legion of Doom, connected by a series of BBS systems.

Frogs and Scientists

"Frogs and Scientists" is a short short story by science fiction author Frank Herbert. It appeared in the August–September 1979 edition of the anthology Destinies: The Paperback Magazine of Science Fiction and Speculative Fact edited by Jim Baen, and later in Herbert's 1985 short story collection Eye.

Hank Reinhardt

Julius Henry ("Hank") Reinhardt (January 18, 1934 – October 30, 2007) was an American author, editor, science fiction fan, and noted armorer and authority on medieval weaponry. He wrote as Hank Reinhardt, the nickname by which he was widely known. He was the husband of editor Toni Weisskopf, formerly married to publisher Jim Baen, whom she succeeded as publisher of Baen Books.

Jim Baen's Universe

Jim Baen's Universe (JBU) was a bimonthly online fantasy and science fiction magazine created by Jim Baen (founder and long-time publisher of Baen Books). It is 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.

Jim Baen died of a stroke on June 11, 2006 and did not see the magazine's full success. The first and only editor-in-chief was Eric Flint, an author and anthologist. The executive editor was Mike Resnick, a science fiction author, editor and anthologist.

JBU had featured stories from a number of notable authors, including Alan Dean Foster, Gregory Benford, Esther Friesner, and Cory Doctorow. Regular columnists included Eric Flint, Mike Resnick, Barry Malzberg, and Stephen Euin Cobb.

Part of the magazine's philosophy was to nurture new authors, slots were reserved in each issue for new writers. Amateur writers were encouraged to submit their work via an online forum, referred to as "e-slush." Stories submitted to e-slush were reviewed by peers and associate editors. The theory was that this process may turn stories that were not quite publishable into publishable ones.

Editor Eric Flint announced in August 2009 that the magazine would close after its April 2010 issue due to insufficient subscriber income.

John Ringo

John Ringo (born March 22, 1963) is an American science fiction and military fiction author. He has had several New York Times best sellers. His books range from straightforward science fiction to a mix of military and political thrillers. To date, he has over seven million copies of his books in print, and his works have been translated into seven different languages.

Mother of Demons

Mother of Demons is a science-fiction novel by American author Eric Flint. His debut novel, it was published in paperback form in 1997 by Baen Books. It was one of the first books published freely on the web by its author and publisher, as part of an experiment by Eric Flint and Jim Baen which led to more active electronic publishing by both. The story describes the aftermath of the crash of an interstellar starship on a world full of barely biologically compatible primitive but intelligent alien life.

Nancy Fulda

Nancy Fulda (née Owens) is an American science fiction writer, editor, and computer scientist. She is an alumna of Brigham Young University in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning. She has won multiple awards for her science fiction writing, which has been compared to that of Asimov and Clarke.

The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

The Notebooks of Lazarus Long is a 1978 selection of aphorisms from one of Robert A. Heinlein's main characters (Lazarus Long). These were originally published as two "intermissions" in the 1973 novel Time Enough for Love. In the context of the novel, these quotes were selected from Long's much longer memoirs (which make up a significant portion of the novel). Some of the phrases are humorous, some philosophical, and some merely quirky. They range in length from one sentence to multiple paragraphs. For example:

Cheops' Law: Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.

Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.

Rub her feet.

If the universe has any purpose more important than topping a woman you love and making a baby with her hearty help, I have never heard of it.

Never try to teach a pig to sing—it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

In 1978, these "notebooks" were published as a standalone work, with some selections illuminated (much like scripture) by D. F. Vassallo. More excerpts were published in New Destinies, Vol. VI/Winter 1988—"Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Issue", edited by Jim Baen.

The World Turned Upside Down (anthology)

The World Turned Upside Down is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories edited by David Drake, Eric Flint and Jim Baen. It was first published in hardcover and ebook by Baen Books in January 2005; a Science Fiction Book Club edition followed from Baen Books/SFBC in February of the same year. The first paperback edition was issued by Baen in June 2006.The book collects twenty-nine novellas, novelettes and short stories by various authors, together with a preface by Flint and a short introduction to each story by one of the editors.

Toni Weisskopf

Toni Weisskopf (born December 12, 1965) is an American science fiction editor and the publisher of Baen Books.

Weisskopf is an alumna of Oberlin College, from which she graduated in 1987. She was immediately employed by Baen Books, where she served as executive editor until the death of founder Jim Baen in 2006, at which point she took over as publisher.She has edited a number of their anthologies under the name T.K.F. Weisskopf, and won the Phoenix Award in 1994 for excellence in science fiction, the Rebel Award in 2000 for lifetime achievement in Southern Science Fiction Fandom, and in 1994 she was also awarded the tongue-in-cheek Rubble Award, given out annually to a fan or pro who has "done something humorously ignominious". In 2015, Weisskopf was nominated for a Hugo Award. She was awarded the Neffy Award as Best Editor in the same year.

Weisskopf was the editor guest of honor for the 2010 North American Science Fiction Convention, ReConStruction.

William Ledbetter

William Ledbetter (born 1961) is a science fiction writer whose short stories have been published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog: Science Fiction & Fact, Jim Baen's Universe, Writers of the Future, Escape Pod, and other magazines. His novelette "The Long Fall Up" won the 2016 Nebula Award.

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