Point Blank! by Richard Stark: the 1967 Fawcett Gold Medal edition (slight return)

Just a (not so) brief follow-up to my examination of the 1967 Fawcett Gold Medal edition of Point Blank! (retitled from The Hunter). If you’ve seen the comments on that post, you’ll know that TVWoP regular Jeffrey Goodman mentioned he had in his possession a piece of paraphernalia related to the Gold Medal edition, which he kindly agreed we could reproduce. It’s an original review slip which was inserted in his copy of the book, and for me it sheds light on a number of issues surrounding both that edition and the wider publishing strategy of Gold Medal.

The bits of ephemera you sometimes find in secondhand books are always fascinating to me, and press releases and publicity info especially so—partly because I work in book publishing myself, but also because they afford a glimpse into an aspect of publishing which is largely invisible to the general public: marketing. How a book is marketed and sold in to the trade directly affects how it’s perceived by booksellers and, in turn, readers. The Point Blank! review slip tells us a few things. For one, it confirms that this edition was, despite what the likes of AbeBooks would have you believe, published in 1967 (you’ll recall from that previous post that there’s no pub date inside the book, merely a 1962 copyright date). For another, it demonstrates that Gold Medal were very definitely marketing the novel as a tie-in to John Boorman’s 1967 movie adaptation, despite not featuring any images from the film on the (Robert McGinnis-illustrated) cover.

Finally, it shows how publishers are perfectly happy to muddy the waters as regards the running order of a series if it suits their purposes. The review slip states: “In POINT BLANK! Parker, the cool and successful thief of THE RARE COIN SCORE, becomes a determined and deadly police force of one and shakes down an entire continent as the hunted turns hunter.” That subtly suggests that Point Blank!/The Hunter is a sequel to The Rare Coin Score, whereas, in fact, it’s the first novel in the series. As if to emphasize this, there’s no mention of any of the other seven Parker novels that had been published by this point—and even inside Point Blank! itself, the only other Parker novels listed are The Rare Coin Score and The Green Eagle Score:

Of course, Gold Medal only picked up the rights to the series with The Rare Coin Score—the ninth Parker novel; previously the Parkers had been published by Pocket Books—so it’s understandable that they only wanted to promote their editions. But it’s no wonder that with the lack of information about the Parker series, and the retitling of a couple of the novels, the correct running order of the Parkers was, for many years, especially in the pre-internet era, a matter of some confusion.

That’s something I’ll be returning to in my next Violent World of Parker post (which, I warn you now, will be horrifyingly nerdy—even moreso than this one—and consequently highly tedious and trying). Because when I saw Jeffrey’s review slip, I suddenly made a connection that in turn answered a question I had about the British editions of the Parker novels around this period. On reflection that answer was blindingly obvious, but, well: I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the box…