Monday, February 21, 2005

Big Star Trek publishing change

Marco Palmieri speaks, quoted from PsiPhi:
Beginning in June, there'll be one mass-market ST title per month.

We've been discussing such a change internally for over a year. Our feeling is that we can do a better job, both editorially and sales-wise, by putting greater energy and effort into fewer and more carefully chosen projects, making the line leaner, meaner, and stronger. The respite being take from studio-produced Star Trek reinforces that strategy. And when you think about it, a media tie-in publishing line consisting of one mass-market book per month, (plus a handful of annual trades and hardcovers), during a time when no new studio-generated material will exist to support it, is still an amazing thing.

First, though I'm sure there'll be a lot of kremlinology going on, I think Marco's earned our trust by now. So I doubt that this is bad news delivered with a cheery face. (Now, when BBC books went to one Doctor Who novel a month, I took some of the kremlinology a little more seriously.)

But what does it mean for the future of the Star Trek books program? Consider how many series there are. Star Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, New Frontier, Stargazer, S.C.E., Gorkon, Vanguard, Titan.... Will some series end? Or will a decent balance be maintained in the form of more frequent hardcover novels and trade paperbacks?

This could be good. If the Pocket gang have been seriously rethinking their strategy, if they plan to put more work into developing and publishing the best Trek fiction they can do, this may not be a problem. We are, after all, talking about the folks who have given us the Deep Space Nine relaunch and the Lost Era books. And it sounds like a repudiation of the age of gimmicks: books padded out to trilogy length, cliffhaners resolved in hardcovers, etc. If the point of this is to really focus fans' attention on one book a month, that one book is more likely to be something special. Not only because it's presumably had more editorial attention, but because it will have more fan attention, instead of being one of a number of products released simultaneously. Each book will become more of an event. Well, it could play out that way.

And I'll be spending less money. Except for the fact that I'll probably have to start doing the ebook thing, because unless SCE goes to semi-annual trade paperback reprints, the available slots for reprint volumes will be fewer and farther between.

These are interesting times. There's plenty of potential downside here. Series could be ended or effectively abandoned; some of the great talent pool discovered by Pocket in recent years may move on to other things rather than fight over a much smaller number of available spots on the schedule. But for now I think I'll keep looking on the bright side of life.

(Now playing: Jack Dangers, "Planet of Rain," from Sci-Fi Sound Effects, disc 2 of Forbidden Planet Explored.)


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