There is a trend in small press publishing that has been increasing in recent months. I’m talking about the limited edition novella.
Don’t get me wrong…I love the novella length. I look back at the so-called golden days and I have infinite fondness for short novels like McCammon’s Blue World and King’s The Mist. But these stories weren’t published on their own. They were both included in books with numerous other short stories in them. And they didn’t cost the reader an arm and a leg either.
It’s becoming common for publishers to put out novellas at close to, or the same price as full-length novels or collections. And people are buying them.
I like all the horror small presses and I don’t blame them. They are running a business and they all put out lovely books.
Who doesn’t like a nicely made book? I hope that everyone here loves them. I know that I do. But if customers continue to buy these short novels with steep price tags, what will come next? Single sheets of paper for $35.00? Oh yeah.
Remember sitting down with a book and reading it for the sheer joy of the words? And then passing that beloved book on to others? There’s still Leisure, of course, and other mass market publishers, but the majority of the stuff seems to be coming from the small press and who in their right mind wants to loan out a costly book that in a lot of cases is more of an investment than just a piece of reading material?
I’ve loved a lot of the recent deluxe novellas. Thomas Monteleone and Charles Grant’s When Dark Descents comes immediately to mind. That was a special publication by two legends and I felt that the full-blown production was definitely justified in that instance. But it’s going from special, deserving projects to just about anything goes with the expensive novellas.
In the end, the customers are the bosses. If we buy the books, they will be successes and the trend will continue.
But what the hell is wrong with a collection of novellas, such as with Cemetery Dance’s Fourbodings and Trick or Treat? The writer might not make as much, but it is a novella, after all. Or why not a longer collection of fiction, with short stories by the same author in the volume with a title novella?
Again, I love the novella form and I think it’s perfectly suited to the horror genre. Long enough to establish proper mood and character development, but short enough to read in a sitting or an afternoon.
Finally, I don’t wish any ill to any publishers. They have the right to publish what they believe will profit for them. Thinking on the demise of Hellbound Books, who did quality books at a reasonable price, and contemplating the publishers that create costly books and are selling out titles left and right, I can’t help but reach the conclusion that it really is a collector’s market these days and books are like stocks, bonds and other fiscal commodities.
Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m an asshole? Let me know what you think at the message board.