Well, Samhain Publishing has been in operation as a horror fiction specialist for a while now, but I finally got one of their books: The Sorrows, by Jonathan Janz. It is high up on my reading list.

In a way, Samhain was born out of the rubble that was left as Leisure collapsed. And what a tragedy that was. Leisure published some of the best horror fiction available. From hardcore authors like Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Bryan Smith, and Jack Ketchum, to some of horror's finest stylists like Ramsey Campbell and Thomas Tessier. In retrospect it was a golden time for the genre. Then it all went away.

It was bad enough that Leisure/Dorchester Publishing went under, but it did so under the worst and most painful circumstances. Reports of unpaid royalties flourished. Rights to books were reverted to authors, but stories of Dorchester continuing to sell them were flying. A half-assed attempt to start e-book and trade paperback lines were started, but I don't think anyone believed that they would go far. And they didn't.

Leisure's editor, Don D'Auria, was a big part of why the company was so beloved by the community. By all reports he treated the writers right and he made a lot of shrewd editorial decisions. Through all of the animosity and vitriol, I have not heard one bad word uttered about Mr. D'Auria.

Now Don D'Auria is the editor of the horror branch of Samhain and this is cause for rejoicing. He is once again bringing some of the best talent in the genre to readers. And they seem to be servicing both the electronic and print fiction devotees. E-Books as well as trade paperbacks are being published by Samhain.

Some of the first releases by Samhain are by celebrated veteran Ramsey Campbell. This should bring joy to every lover of horror fiction (but it won't). Other familiar names to those of us who live for horror fiction are coming out from Samhain as well: Ronald Malfi, Greg Gifune, W.D Gagliani. Plus quite a few lesser known writers are seeing the light of publication under the Samhain banner. I plan to check out some of these newer writers, and I hope that you do as well.

Is it a perfect situation? Well, sad to say, not for me. I don't do the e-book thing and I never will. Call me what you will, but I read real books. The smaller, digest-sized edition of paperback which I always cherished is not being used. I hate it that this format seems to be dying. Samhain is doing the increasingly popular oversized trade paperbacks. And the copy of The Sorrows that I have looks to have been done with POD technology, which does not bode well for bookstore distribution. I realize that this is a damn tough business and that publishers must do whatever it takes to survive, but I think it sucks. I hate ordering online by pushing buttons. I like the old way, where we went out and bought books among the public and actually had to communicate with human beings. Gee, how old fashioned.

Still, one cannot complain too much. Samhain looks to be doing some really nice books and we need a company like them out there. We're all told that we must support the small press as much as we can. And that is certainly true. But we should also support mass market publishers when we can. The success of a company like Samhain can be a boon to the market. Not only to the writers who need their work distributed, but to us, the readers.

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