Forthcoming: Jill Emerson’s Getting Off (Hard Case Crime, 2011)

This September, Hard Case Crime will publish a new, original Jill Emerson novel, Getting Off.   The cover, for maximum marketing, reads Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson, who in the 1960s-70s wrote lesbian novels for Midwood, erotic and mainstream stuff for Putnam and Arbor House.

This will also be the imprint’s first hardcover.  Other titles have switched from mass market to trade paper.

We love Hard Case, but we wonder if this shift will work. The whole novelty and charm of the line was emulating vintage mass markets with the cover art, delivering books in the 40-60K word range like the old days, not these padded 80-120K word paperbacks that are now the market norm.

The market norm is also pushing the mass market trim size into memory.  We have been seeing paperbacks in a size somewhere between the mass and the trade.

We wonder if readers may be annoyed that they have to fork out more money rather than the under ten bucks price you can get a mass market for. Trade paper and hardcovers will make Hard Case like every other line out there, and not unique, kind of the way Random House took away the uniqueness of Black Lizard by re-issuing everything in trade paper with covers that look like everyone else’s covers, and not the uniqueness that the Creative Arts Black Lizard editions have.

Is this not typical of all conglomerates? They buy out a company that is small and cool and has its own style and slowly make it generic. And we’re not talking just publishing — films, music, art, it happens across the board when a big company’s board thinks people want the same thing rather than something original, and grumble when sales diminish because the fans get bored.

Anyway, we are looking forward to Getting Off.

Read an excerpt.

4 Responses to “Forthcoming: Jill Emerson’s Getting Off (Hard Case Crime, 2011)”

  1. Couple of points:

    1) I love the mass market format, too, and will miss it when (if?) it’s gone. But as an economic matter, publishing in mass market is becoming harder and harder, and I figure fans of our books would rather see us publish more books in trade paperback than stick to our guns, refuse to change from mass market, and go out of business.

    2) You assume our trade paperbacks will be priced above $10. They will, in fact, be $9.95. Yes, this is higher than the $7.99 we were charging for mass markets, but not all that much, and it’s cheap compared to other trade pbs. You’re right that some readers will probably be unhappy being asked to pay $1.96 more per book, but overall I think it’s truer to the original spirit of the PBOs to publish an inexpensive trade pb than to publish an expensive mass market.

    3) Our trade pbs won’t be the gargantuan, unwieldy sort you sometimes see. The trim size will just be an inch greater in either direction compared to our mass markets — 5×8 rather than 4×7. What’s a lousy inch in either direction? Hardly grounds for picking up the torches and pitchforks. Especially if tolerating it means getting more books you love rather than not getting any. (Plus, you get slightly larger type, which is good for everyone — we got some complaints about the tiny type we had to use in Donald Westlake’s MEMORY, for instance, and if that one had been in trade, we could’ve gone a bit larger.)

    4) Why would you assume that a switch to trade pb would mean that we’d change the types of books we publish? GETTING OFF happens to be close to 90,000 words, but it came out that long because that’s how long the story took to tell, not because we asked Larry to make it longer. And I promise, there’s not a Hard Case Crime reader that is going to wish the book was a page shorter. THE CONSUMMATA is 50,000-60,000 words, as is CHOKE HOLD, and QUARRY’S EX is about 50,000. We’re going to continue publishing exactly the same sort of books we always have, with exactly the same sort of cover art we always have. We’re not going to switch to 120,000-word padded monstrosities just because we have larger paegs to fill. And we’re not going to switch to high-toned black-and-white art photography on the covers the way Random House did when they bought out Black Lizard — for heaven’s sake, does the cover of GETTING OFF look to you like we’ve abandoned the type of cover art that got us where we are? Which gets us to the last point…

    5) No one ‘bought out’ Hard Case Crime. For our first six years we worked with Dorchester Publishing to put out our books; going forward we will be working with Titan Books. But I still own Hard Case Crime and what makes it Hard Case Crime will not change. Yes, the fact that we published in mass market was part of the charm of the line — but I can’t believe that it was a *huge* part of the charm. I think people who love our books mostly love the cover art and the stories, and will continue to love both even if the pieces of paper on which that art and those stories are printed are an inch larger in each direction.

    Charles Ardai
    Editor, Hard Case Crime

    • vintagesleazepaperbacks Says:

      Didn’t mean to suggest HCC was bought out….just dismayed by what Random House did with Black Lixard.

      Yeah, MEMORY’s font is hard on the eyes…maybe a trade size second edition with bigger type? 🙂

  2. Mr. Ardai, if you read this, I’d like to ask you to reprint more novels by Charles Williams. That guy was a fucking genius.

    Thank you, and best of luck with HCC.

  3. Hey, Tosser — thanks for the suggestion. A TOUCH OF DEATH is one of my all-time favorites. Nothing else Williams ever wrote pleases me as much as that one, but I keep searching.

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