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Launching Firebox: The Champions of 1941 – Part 1


“Iceberg just launched a new series, The Champions, which will release novella-length installments as ebooks throughout 2013, a latter-day take on the typical Victorian custom of monthly cliffhangers in magazines. Again, a merge of journalistic strengths — rapid writing to deadlines, and creativity.” – The National Post

Canadian writer Kenneth Tam is pioneering a new method of storytelling in 2013, with the lead installment launching next week. Firebox is the first of five novellas to be released this year in his new series, The Champions, and it debuts as an ebook on Tuesday, January 29.

“We’re definitely taking a different approach,” Tam explains. “Over the past ten years we’ve always released full-length novels, and usually only one or two in a series each year. In 2013 we’ll do five novellas, all closely connected and serialized –– like episodes of a miniseries.”

This serialized approach has its roots in publishing history –– the National Post’s Barbara Kay calls it “a latter-day take on the typical Victorian custom of monthly cliffhangers…” –– but it is very much dependant on the newest publishing technology: the ebook.

“The novellas will be launched exclusively as ebooks,” Tam elaborates. “After they’ve all been released, they’ll be compiled into a print omnibus for non-ebook readers. We compare it to a television show being distributed on DVD after it has been broadcast.”

Firebox will be available to readers on all major ebook platforms –– Kobo, Kindle, and iPad. Because of The Champions’ serialized approach, Canadian-headquartered Kobo will be specifically placing the novella in its ‘Short Reads’ section. It will then be released as part of a print omnibus, War Footing, in November.

Iceberg Publishing, Tam’s family company, celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012, but only moved into the ebook space at the start of that year. After one of Tam’s other series, Defense Command, was prominently featured by Apple for more than six months in its US iBookstore, the opportunities presented by the technology became clear.

The Champions was developed specifically to take full advantage of the ebook platform. Launched with a conventional novel, Whitecoat, last October, the series features numerous Canadian characters and settings. However, despite his ten years of experience, and numerous appearances as a guest author at conventions across Canada, Tam doesn’t fully know what to expect from Firebox’s launch.

“Though the technology is becoming more familiar, ebooks are still a relatively new frontier,” he says. “The data isn’t mature enough for us to guess whether we’ll have a single audience reading both print and ebook formats, or a separate audience for each platform. We’re looking forward to finding out.”