Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hard Case’s Hardcover Helpings

Mass-market paperback imprint Hard Case Crime has provided plenty of news headlines over the past several months, after its longstanding association with Dorchester Publishing collapsed, and editor Charles Ardai signed a new distribution deal with UK-based Titan Publishing. Yesterday there were still more developments, this time involving the Hard Case line’s re-launching next September with a new hardcover work by Lawrence Block:
Titled Getting Off: A Novel of Sex and Violence, the book tells the story of a beautiful and self-confident young woman who sets herself a mission and carries it out with ruthless single-mindedness--to track down and murder every man she’s ever slept with. (And it’s not a small number, especially since she finds herself sleeping with a few more along the way.) The character is one of Block’s most memorable, the first new series character he’s introduced since J.P Keller in Hit Man a dozen years ago. Like Keller, she first appeared in a short story Block found himself writing, and after she’d stuck around for a second tale and then a third, he realized he had a novel-length story to tell about her. Thus was Getting Off born.
After seeing a couple of bloggers describe Getting Off as Hard Case’s first hardcover release, I started to wonder how this jibed with a previous and much-heralded announcement, from this last August, about HC resurrecting “a pair of early Lawrence Block novels,” 69 Barrow Street and Strange Embrace, as a double volume--also in hardcover--for publisher Subterranean Press. That announcement said those two Blocks in one would see print during “the first half of 2011.” Wouldn’t that timing make the double volume, rather than Getting Off, HC’s first hardcover release? Or has the Subterranean book been postponed?

I put these questions to editor Ardai, who responded earlier today:
No, the Subterranean book is definitely still coming--we’re all very excited about that one--but [Subterranean] generously agreed to push it back from mid-2011 to the start of 2012, to give Getting Off a window in which it can take the spotlight as the debut title of our re-launch. Better, we all agreed, to have one Block hardcover in 2011 and then another in 2012 than to crowd the two together back-to-back in one season.

Incidentally, the Subterranean double wouldn’t strictly speaking have been Hard Case Crime’s first hardcover release--Subterranean previously published a hardcover edition of my own
Fifty-to-One, and Otto Penzler brought out a small hardcover edition of Donald Westlake’s Memory. It would have been the first Hard Case Crime book that we’d have published initially in hardcover, but it might have been a little funny to describe it as a “hardcover original” given that the two books it contains are both reprints, and specifically reprints of books that came out as paperback originals back in the sixties. Getting Off, on the other hand, is clearly a hardcover original in every sense. So it makes sense for it to take that spot.

None of which matters from a reader’s point of view, of course. All readers will care about is that they’ve got two great Lawrence Block books to look forward to! (Three, really, since one’s a double.)

Regarding schedule, we’ll be putting out two books in September (
Getting Off and one other we haven’t announced yet) and two more in October (Quarry’s Ex [by Max Allan Collins] and Choke Hold [by Christa Faust]). No further delay for those two.

And after the four books in 2011? We’re currently planning to do four more in 2012 (and then four more the year after), but we haven’t decided yet whether that means one per quarter or two at a time twice a year, or what. We’ll be talking with Titan about those questions over the coming months.

It’s also possible we might wind up doing more than 4/year--we’ll see. But I do want to keep it down from the punishing 12-13 books/year I was doing at the end with Dorchester. That schedule--a new book every 4 weeks!--is physically exhausting for me and would make it hard for me to work on all the other projects I’ve got underway, such as the TV series
Haven and some books of my own I’ve been putting off writing. It’s the curse of being a one-man operation! You can’t do absolutely everything, however much you might want to. But I love Hard Case Crime, and I’m very happy that we’ve found a pace that enables me to keep it going while also working on a few other things.
So I guess that clears up that.

Meanwhile, Ardai has announced that the sixth volume in his Gabriel Hunt adventure series, written by Raymond Benson and titled Hunt Through Napoleon’s Web--which had originally been slated for release last month--will now come out sometime in 2011. However, it will appear in trade-size paperback, rather than the series’ original mass-market size.


Richard L. said...

Well, it should also be noted that Lawrence Block's new novel, A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF, will be out in May and can even now be pre-ordered from Amazon (with a great cover, given Scudder's alcoholic history).

It is such good news for Block's readers, after he had again announced his retirement--another Scudder novel!

JZID said...

Also of note is that Subterranean just started shipping HELLCATS AND HONEYGIRLS, a trilogy of Westlake/Block collaborations.