Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Another Fine Mess

Earlier today, blogger-author Bill Crider complained that his long-standing subscription to Dorchester Publishing’s Hard Case Crime Club, which used to bring him copies of the latest Hard Case paperbacks, is now being fulfilled with older books he doesn’t want, thanks to Dorchester’s recent business divorce from Hard Case.

Now comes this news release from Hard Case editor Charles Ardai:
As most of you know, for the past several years Dorchester Publishing offered a subscription service they called the “Hard Case Crime Book Club.” If you signed up for this service, you received each new Hard Case Crime book automatically by mail. Now that Dorchester is no longer publishing our books, they can’t ship new Hard Case Crime books to book club members anymore (or use our name on the club), but they’ve indicated that they would like to keep the club going. Their solution: They plan to find books from other publishers that fans of Hard Case Crime might enjoy and send those books out, under the new, generic name “Hard Boiled Crime Book Club.”

There’s nothing wrong with this idea in principle--there are a lot of great crime novels out there, and not all of them were published by Hard Case Crime. I think Dorchester could do a nice job of selecting other books you might enjoy. In fact, just as a favor to them, I even offered to help them do so; I suggested some books by Hard Case Crime authors Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, for instance, as well as some authors that we haven’t published, such as Loren D. Estleman and Robert B. Parker. And just this past week, Dorchester started shipping some of these books (one by Parker, I believe, and maybe one by Westlake).

Unfortunately, Dorchester doesn’t seem to have communicated clearly to book club members just what it was they were doing, or reminded members about their right to cancel their subscription if they no longer wanted to be part of the club in light of the changes. Instead, I get the impression that Dorchester simply started shipping the new books without any explanation. Naturally, this left book club members confused and in some cases upset, and I can understand why. I wish Dorchester had handled this better.

That’s why I’m sending this message: I want you to know what’s going on, and also let you know what you can do. If you’re a book club member and don't want to receive any more books from Dorchester, you can call them at 1-800-481-9191 or write to them at and tell them you want to cancel your subscription. I’m not saying that you should cancel--if you stay with the club, you might get some terrific books from them. But if you want to cancel, that’s how you can do it.

There’s also another reason I’m writing to you. Many of you have contacted me to ask whether our new publisher, Titan Publishing, plans to offer a similar subscription service when they start publishing new Hard Case Crime books in 2011. And I’m glad to report that the answer is yes. They haven’t worked out all the details yet and it’s possible that it’ll turn out to be harder than they expect--but right now, they are planning to do it.

If you think you might be interested in signing up for Titan’s new subscription service in 2011, please let us know. Just send an e-mail to and we’ll send you more information about the service as soon as it’s available. Please note, sending an e-mail to us does not commit you to anything--it just puts you on a list of people who want to know more. If you’re currently a Hard Case Crime Book Club member and would like to continue getting our books by mail, it's very important that you let us know, since we don’t have any information about who the members of the book club are--the club is owned and run by Dorchester and we have no access to any member information. So if you don’t write and tell us, we have no way of knowing that you’re a member.

And if you’re not currently a book club member but think you might like to become one when the new books start coming next year, that’s great--just let us know that.

Bit by bit we’ll get this all sorted out. I apologize for any confusion along the way. The most important thing in a situation like this is clear, prompt and forthright communication, and in Dorchester’s enthusiasm to start shipping books again, I’m afraid they didn’t communicate the way they should have. Hopefully they’ll do better in the future--they’re good people and I know they mean well. In the meantime, though ... please do write to us right away if you’re a current book club member, or if you’re not but might want to become one when Titan launches their subscription offering next year.

And please do contact Dorchester at 1-800-481-9191 or if you want to cancel your membership in their club.
I hope this explanation will end some reader confusion.

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