What’s going on with Hard Case Crime?

Hard Case Crime’s printer and distributor, Dorchester Publishing, isn’t quite shutting its doors, but it is going to a purely e-book and print-on-demand format. This is unfortunate, to say the least. In addition to mailing me the newest Hard Case Crime novel upon release through their wonderful book club, they were unfailingly polite and extraordinarily responsive the couple of times I had to deal with their customer service department. This is bad news, and I wish the best to those employees who I assume are losing their jobs.

What does this mean for Hard Case Crime? Publisher Charles Ardai promises that the imprint will continue. Titles #67 and #68 will be coming out but are delayed until next year.

The information in the above two paragraphs is drawn from the Hard Case Crime newsletter (in its entirety below the fold). The second paragraph may sound like wishful thinking, but it’s apparently not. Via Bill Crider is the following from Subterranean Press:

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve just reached agreement to publish an exclusive Hard Case Crime volume, which will also be the first in the series to debut in hardcover. Volume #69 will resurrect a pair of early Lawrence Block novels: 69 Barrow Street and Strange Embrace, bound back to back in the classic “doubles” format, featuring brand new art by Robert McGinnis. You can look for more details, including ordering info, later this year, with a projected publication date in the first half of 2011.

(Subterranean Press will also be bringing us the Block/Westlake sleaze omnibus Hellcats and Honeygirls in October.)

Subterranean Press is unlikely to be placing these novels in major chain booksellers, so if you want 69 Barrow Street and Strange Embrace–and you should!–you’ll probably have to order it. Please don’t forget. (I’ll be reminding you.)

I promote Hard Case Crime here so often, some of you must wonder if I’m on their payroll. I’m not. I don’t get promotional copies either–I’ve purchased every single Hard Case Crime book I own, which is all of them.

Many of you know how hard it was to get the Parker books for many, many years. Obviously, there are lots of people who like the Parker books. However, there didn’t seem to be enough to keep them in print and available to the general public. Mysterious Press reprinted several of them but could not generate enough interest to make it past The Jugger, despite the release of Payback and Stark’s revival of the character in Comeback and its follow-ups.

Not enough people were on board. I’m convinced that enough people would have been on board had the books been publicized better. And I don’t just mean by the publishing company. It’s our job as readers and fans to publicize as well. If we don’t? Well, we might just end up paying $100 or more for a used copy of Butcher’s Moon and owning a book that it’s impossible to discuss with others because no one we know will have read it or can read it.

Hard Case Crime is doing crime fiction fans a tremendous service by bringing these books back into print. Buy them, read them, tell your friends about them. Get them into multiple printings. Don’t let them vanish, like the Parker books did for so long. And help to assure that Hard Case Crime is able to continue doing the great work it is doing.

Full text of the 8/8/10 Hard Case Crime newsletter below the fold.

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Those of you who are tuned in to goings-on in the publishing industry may have seen the announcement last week from Dorchester Publishing that they’ve decided to get out of the business of publishing mass-market paperback novels (the main business they’ve been in for the past 40 years).  Instead, they’ve announced they’re only going to publish ebooks and a limited number of larger trade paperbacks, using a ‘print on demand’ process.

What does this have to do with Hard Case Crime? Well, for the past six years, Dorchester has been the company that has printed and distributed our books.  They’re a first-rate company run by good people, and I’m sorry to see them going through tough times.  I’m also sorry to see them stop publishing books in our format.  What does this mean for us?  Well, either we’ll need to switch from the smaller “mass market” format to the larger “trade” format, or we’ll need to start working with another publisher, or both.  (Most likely both, but we’ll see.)

It’ll take a little while for this all to get sorted out, and I apologize for delays in the meantime.  Our August title, Brett Halliday’s MURDER IS MY BUSINESS, has shipped to booksellers and is available right now.  I’d encourage you to grab a copy while you can — it’s a terrific book (with a gorgeous Robert McGinnis cover), and it’ll be the last new Hard Case Crime book you’ll see for a while.  The next two — QUARRY’S EX by Max Allan Collins and CHOKE HOLD by Christa Faust — will not be coming out in October and March as planned.  They will come out — but probably not till sometime later next year.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we know when.

And you’ll be glad to know we’re already at work on subsequent titles.  It’s too early to spill the beans about what they are — but it looks like books #69 and #70 will actually be by the same author, one well known to readers of our line.  The former will be a reprint, the latter a brand-new book, and both are very exciting.  As soon as I can let the cat out of the bag (once the ink is dry on the contracts!), you’ll hear more.

After that?  Well, you won’t be seeing a new book every month, but I expect you’ll continue to see a handful of new Hard Case Crime titles each year, and rest assured they’ll be good ones.  Stay tuned to your email for news and announcements (also not every month — but every time we’ve got news to share, I promise).

And if you’re a member of the Hard Case Crime Book Club, I’d say don’t cancel that subscription just yet — again, it’s too early to talk about what we’ve got in store, but a neat idea has surfaced for a way to keep the books coming and if it works out, I think you’re going to like it.  (I know I’m excited about it.)

In the meantime, I want to thank you all for your years of support and your passion for our books — it feels good to know so many of you are as excited about these books as I am, and (circumstances permitting) I’m looking forward to bringing you more of them for years to come.

Charles Ardai

P.S. Congratulations to the dozen winners of our drawing for what is now a highly collectible ‘Advance Reader’s Copy’ of QUARRY’S EX: Shana, Ed, Marcus, B., Stephanie, Paul, Matthew, Glen, Jared, Sally, Richard, and Nicholas. Enjoy it.