Saturday, April 23, 2011

How To Buy Leisure Books While Respecting The Dorchester Boycott

Forgive the content mill-ish title. Anyhow. Major mass market paperback house Leisure Books/Dorchester Publications has been in a death spiral for some time now, owing money to both their authors and a number of creditors. Recently, they have engaged in a number of shenanigans, like selling ebooks they no longer hold the publishing rights to.

This goes beyond horror, including also mystery and romance mmpb writers. A lot of writers haven't seen a royalty check in eons, and Dorchester as a whole has been dragging their feet on legally returning all publishing rights back to their rightful owners. In short, Leisure Books / Dorchester publishing has become as reliable as a some of the more fly-by-night print on demand small presses (like the one operated by notorious psychotic crank from just outside ofChicago, who lives in his grandmother's basement, cannot string a coherent sentence together and has a record of stalking mid-list and successful horror novelists). Yes, Leisure Dorchester has gotten THAT bad -- possibly even much more toxic, since a fall from grace is involved. For further information on why Dorchester/Leisure needs to be actively boycotted, further information can be found on Brian Keene's blog, as well as the Boycott Dorchester FaceBook page.

However, there is one major loophole to the boycott that needs pointing out. There is a way to buy Leisure Books' novels and collections while keeping your hard earned money out of their hands. First, lets go through a few caveats, first. If you really, really, really have to buy that Tim Lebbon paperback, do yourself and the author a favor. Go to their blog and website and see what is in print, what is out of print, and what is slated for reissue. Brian Keene, for example, recently signed a contract with Deadite to bring most of his back catalog back as trade paperbacks and ebooks. So, most of his books can be bought with him earning a royalty off of the purchase (if not now, then eventually).

Some Dorchester authors, however, have not been as fortunate as Keene, in terms of obtaining a rights reversion. So, there may not be any reissues in the near or immediate future, both on paper and in e-ink. Plus, there may be older titles, say from Dennis Etchinson or Rick Hautala, that have been actively out print. These books can still be bought, if you must absolutely have them.

Go visit your local used bookstore. The used book business is fundamentally different than the local Barnes and Noble. These businesses buy books off of readers for very little, mark the price up slightly, and then pocket all the profit. True, there are no royalties that go to the author, but none of the revenue goes to publisher either. On the surface, that may sound exploitative, but it actually isn't. Used bookstores are usually not thriving business at the moment, and you will not see their owners driving Bentleys anytime soon. Besides, used bookstores offer an extremely valuable cultural service.

First, it saves books from being pulped or crammed into a landfill, offering a novel a second, third, fourth or fifth reading life. For this reason, used bookstores are cultural repositories. For example, in a particularly good used book store, a shopper can leave with Sarah Pinborough titles, the collected poems of Anne Sexton and a number of titles of the decline and fall of Rome -- while spending under $20 total. Traditional bookstore frequently purge and pulp their lingering inventory to make space whatever bullshit New York City marketing geniuses think will sell!, sell!, sell! (Usually with abysmal results, too). Typically, used book stores also sell items that are long out of print -- want to find Robert Bloch novels?--here's where you go.

Besides, used book stores are a dying breed, unfortunately. Ever since the economy entered a vortex of shit in 2008, a good number of them have been going out of business. If you factor in online shopping and the rise of ebook, it's made it a lot harder many to stay afloat. I'm only going by observation in my part of New Jersey on this, as I've noticed the numbers here dwindling every few years.

So, if you absolutely must have a Dorchester/Leisure paperback, buy them at used bookstores. After all, the authors won't be getting the money either way. (Which is why you need to buy their reissues, if they have them). However, your local used bookstore also needs both your support and your patronage. This is just another reason to shop at one.

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