# Jim Baen has passed away

Read David Drake’s obituary, requested just a few weeks before his death. Baen was responsible for publishing and promoting Bujold, Weber, Flint, Lackey, Laumer, Ringo, and many others. He established a signature style: It’s a common joke around the MITSFS that you can tell a Baen book from across the room: there’ll be an author’s name in big bold type, a scantily clad woman with a really big gun, a dragon, and an exploding spaceship. He’s published some misses (Rats, Bats, and Vats comes to mind), but in general the contents between that distinctive cover will be adventure stories to make Heinlein proud. Baen Books are often pigeonholed as right-wing military SF by those who see only Ringo and Weber—and those only on the surface. A deeper look shows that maybe Ringo and Weber are more nuanced than their characters would claim, and Baen was busy publishing books by Socialist labor organizer Eric Flint and “military fiction” like the later Vorkosigan books.

Together with his friend and regular author Eric Flint, Baen began the DRM-free Webscriptions project, including the Baen Free Library. These have been of tremendous value to me, providing a surplus of reading material while traveling, all easily packed into my Pilot. They demonstrated that freely distributed copies of back-list novels can greatly increase the sales of new books, as well as raising awareness (and sales) of the long tail of the back-list. Moreover, they’ve demonstrated that plain-text, DRM-free media are a salable, profitable commodity in their own right. According to Wikipedia’s article on Jim Baen, Baen’s sales of web sales of free/libre media were a larger market than Canada.

From Drake’s obituary:

I could not get so crazy and depressed that I didn't trust Jim Baen to
stand by me if I needed him. I don't know a better statement than that
to sum up what was important about Jim, as a man and as a friend.


I never met Jim Baen, but I’m glad for what he did for fandom, for books, and for the world.