RA for All...The Road Show!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Big Problems at Leisure Books

I normally have nothing but good things to say about Dorchester Publishing's horror arm, Leisure Books. For the last few years, Leisure has racked up the best consistent stable of horror authors, churning out good to excellent mass market horror titles at a furious pace. Authors like Brian Keene, Nate Kenyon, John Everson, Robert Dunbar, and Tom Piccirilli (just to name a few of my favs) published the bulk of their papberback novels through Leisure.

But then this week, Dorchester made this announcement:


Dorchester Transitions to E-book and Trade

Given the many changes in the publishing industry over the last several years, Dorchester has made the decision to more tightly focus its distribution models so that we may fully capitalize on the most profitable emerging technologies.
Starting with September titles, we will be moving from mass-market to trade paperback format. This will delay new releases roughly 6-8 months, but it will also open many new and more efficient sales channels.
And we’re pleased to say all titles will be available in ebook format as originally scheduled. The substantial growth we’ve seen in the digital market in such a short period—combined with the decline of the mass-market business—convinced us that we needed to fully focus our resources in this segment sooner rather than later.
Dorchester has always been known as a company ahead of the curve and willing to take risks. As bookstores are allocating the bulk of their capital to the digital business, it only makes sense that we do the same. Everyone keeps hearing that the industry has to change if it’s going to survive. We’re excited to be at the forefront of that change and will continue to keep you posted on further developments.
And to help answer some of the questions you might have: 
For readers:
How will I be able to get the new books?
From September through April, new titles will be available only in ebook.  You can find them in all major ebook outlets: Amazon, B&N, Books on Board, Sony, Overdrive affiliates, etc.  And we will have links for purchase at various vendors from our site as well.

In plainer English this means that the horror titles that were due out in the next 6-8 months will only be available in ebooks. How does this help my horror readers at the BPL? We stock quite a few of these Leisure titles and have decent circulation numbers to show for it. What are these readers going to do? The BPL's patrons are working to middle class, with a large new immigrant population. Many do not have home computers let alone ebook readers.

Also, from a purely selfish level what am I going to do? I almost always have at least one horror mass market pb in my purse and 7 times out of 10 it is a Leisure title. I can't whip out the Kindle I don't own yet and read the newest Nate Kenyon title on it at school pick up. It's bad enough that all of the moms think I am ignoring them on purpose when I am absorbed in a book, how arrogant does it look to do it on an iPad? How cumbersome too? Oh, and the fact that anything electronic is infinitely more interesting to my kids and I have to fend them off from trying to push its buttons. What's wrong with my paperback? (Click here for more of my ebook thoughts)

I am concerned that just as horror is breaking back into the mainstream that the most solid, well written, and well edited pulp titles are going to disappear. As my baby sister used to say, "This is not good like I thought."

If this was all not unsettling enough, Brian Keene released a statement hinting that the proposed switch to trade paperbacks will not be happening either. Editors at Leisure are being fired and authors aren't getting paid. He is blunt and pulls no punches in sharing his opinion:
What’s my advice to my fellow Leisure authors? Run. Get the fuck out and don’t look back. It is my opinion that we are screwed. At this point, you’re an absolute fool if you sign with them for anything else.
Click here for his full statement.

All I can add is, I am worried. I will be following this story and will pass on any news. 
 

Interview on Zombie Lit With Jonathan Maberry

Click here to read John Ottinger's interview in Strange Horizons with prolific horror author Jonathan Maberry.

From the Interview:
JO: Has zombie fiction seen its apex? Or is there more that can be done with the archetype?
JM: Not even close. Zombies are a very elastic storytelling trope, and as such they may ultimately prove to be better for original storytelling than vampires. Consider, in most recent vampire fiction the monster has been severely humanized. He's charming, romantic, tragic, etc. He's become the character, which may be interesting but it also reduces the fear factor and it switches the focus from the human characters to this immortal charmer. Zombies aren't charming, and they don't have personalities. They're walking corpses with no higher functions. They certainly aren't romantic. What they represent in zombie fiction is a constant and universal threat that is implacable and unbearable. That kind of threat puts all of the characters under pressure, and from a storytelling point of view, characters under pressure are the only interesting ones to write about. Under stress, people change, their behavior becomes warped, their facades crack and fall off, and this allows writers to tell complex stories about real people in dreadful circumstances without having to have them react in any way with the monsters other than the way people would if that threat was a tsunami, a plague, or something equally large and emotionless.
Take that Vampires.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Newer Horror Titles Worth a Look: Cross Post

Here is a cross post from RA for All:

Newer Horror Titles Worth a Look

I have been keeping track of a few new paperback horror titles that are getting a lot of positive buzz.

Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1)The first, one I am currently reading and loving.  Feed by Mira Grant was getting starred reviews in the library press this spring, so I ordered it sight unseen. I am reading it now and will have a full review in a few weeks, but here is the basic plot. A virus was accidentally unleashed on the world in 2014. It is now 20 years later and while America society is still functioning, it is quite different. One of the key changes after the virus is that the people stopped trusting the official news sources, and bloggers became more important and universally accepted as news and entertainment outlets. Our story is narrated by a young woman, who with her team get picked to cover a candidate for President. They uncover a secret conspiracy behind the virus and fight to unleash the truth upon the world.

There is a great mix of chills and social commentary here. But again, in my review I am going to ponder and dissect whether or not is true horror. I know a lot of horror readers who would not enjoy this title as horror simply because the zombies and the fear they induce has a scientific explanation.  But more on that later. If you want a smart, fun, exciting, and chills inducing read, try Feed.

The BridgeThe Bridge by John Skipp and Craig Spector is also garnering positive attention. Originally published in 1991, it was reissued this spring and is worth a second look.  From the Dark Scribe review:
This novel is a must-read. Powerful and well-written with unforgettable characters and a terrifying premise that will haunt your dreams, The Bridge is an uncompromising nightmare ride to destruction.
Surprisingly, only the BPL picked up this $7.99 paperback reissue in our system and no one still has the original release either. I would highly suggest other libraries grab a copy before Halloween.

The Reapers Are the Angels: A NovelIn the USA Today I read this gripping review of The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell:
It's zombies meets the Southern Gothic tradition in Alden Bell's dark yet luminous novel The Reapers Are the Angels
Temple, the 15-year-old at the center of this ominous tale, was born into a world where "meatskins," the walking dead, are more prolific than the living.
Except for photos she sees in old magazines, she is a survivor who can't imagine what life must have been like 25 years ago before the zombies (Bell also refers to them as "slugs") roamed America.
Bell doesn't tell us how things came to be or whether the zombie plague has spread across the world. It doesn't matter. It's Temple's life and her immediate surroundings that fascinate us.
A loner by nature, Temple carries the weight of intolerable grief for acts she has been forced to commit so she can survive. In an attempt at atonement and redemption, she decides to help Maury, a mentally challenged man, travel across the South to Texas, where he has family who can care for him.
Along the way they are pursued by a man set on killing Temple to avenge his brother's death, a slew of zombies and a family of startlingly repulsive mutants. (Readers will be completely unnerved by their lifestyle.)
Most fascinating, Bell's zombies provoke compassion and are portrayed with a certain dignity. After all, who would choose to be zombified?
If you loved Justin Cronin's The Passage, this summer's vampire hit, you'll get a charge out of The Reapers Are the Angels. It's a literary/horror mashup that is unsettlingly good.
Well, enough said for me. I put the title on hold while on vacation and it is in my possession to begin after I finish devouring Feed.

A Gathering of CrowsSirenOn top of these buzzed about books. There are also new paperback offerings from perennial favorites John Everson and and Brian Keene.

So here is just a taste of what is out there right now in horror. I will have my full year in horror wrap up posted by mid-September to help everyone get ready for the Halloween rush, but I thought I would help you all get a head start now.