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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. 

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