News travels fast on the Information Superhighway, and I'm sure that everyone knows that Cemetery Dance Publications has announced that they will be putting out the bulk of Bentley Little's back catalog. Having seen success with their edition of Little's latest novel, The Influence, CD is pulling out the stops with this, which appears to be the biggest and boldest move in their history.

I am a big Bentley Little fan, and I rejoice at the news. However, a tiny part of me is slightly sad about it.

This feels like the end of an era to me. For the most part Bentley Little was always a paperback original writer. More or less every year his fans could go into a bookstore and buy a copy of his latest book. I damned sure did. I never, ever, missed a Bentley Little title.

I've seen some people look down upon paperback originals in the past. That's certainly their prerogative, but I always liked them. They are easy on the wallet, and the smaller sized paperback is comfortable to read. Most genre books came out in the format. The bigger names got mass market releases, and sometimes small press editions accompanied the paperbacks. Usually, though, readers like me bought and cherished our paperbacks.

I'd buy wonderful books by Robert McCammon, Skipp and Spector, Joe R. Lansdale, and many others in paperback, and I presume that the writers did well at it. Some obviously did better than others, but the getting seemed to be good in those days.

Bentley Little rode in on that crest, and from all appearances had a lucrative career. But as we all know, the publishing industry is rapidly changing. Some think for the better, others for the worse. I suppose I am somewhere in the middle. Or maybe just a little left of the side of worse.

I am ecstatic to see Cemetery Dance doing all of these Bentley Little books. CD is my favorite publisher, and Little has always been one of my favorite horror writers. He has one of the most distinctive voices in the history of the genre. Bentley Little was never The next Stephen King. His work is startlingly original. he can be shocking and he knows when to be subtle. He creates vivid, easily identifiable characters, and then throws them into surreal chaos. Whatever else you might say about Bentley Little, no one can accuse him of having a lack of ambition with his plots.

I said above that I was sad to see the slow death of the paperback original. Some will undoubtedly say that horror paperbacks are coming out all the time. Yeah, they are, but it isn't the same to me as mass market, digest-sized paperbacks coming to local stores. Most of them now are the larger trade size, and a lot of them have the telltale barcode inside the back cover which reveals their POD origins. Nothing wrong in that.

It might even be better in some ways. With POD and small press publishing, there will be a lot fewer stripped books, and wasted money and resources. But I miss taking my weekend trips to the bookstore to buy my reading material.

Who knows? Maybe these Bentley Little books will make their way into bookstores. The trade paperback editions that Cemetery Dance are doing, at least. That would be awesome. I'll still probably buy mine at the source. I like to give as much direct support to small press publishers as I can.

I intend to buy and read all of the Bentley Little books that CD are doing. I hope others will as well. His stories are complex and often deserve to be reread. I also hope that he wins a legion of new readers with this venture.

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