Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: British books in US

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 07 Apr 2001

While Dick is right that big Brit sellers are printed in the States, I've gotta agree with Kevin that this does not seem to apply to much hardboiled. Does hardboiled sell over there beyond Rankin?


"As I said before, I hadn't really been to a decent-sized American bookstore in a while, and I should have made it more clear that I was thinking more along the lines of writers like Ken Bruen, Mark Timlin, Irvine Welsh and the like."

Ken Bruen's Serpent's Tail books were available pretty much simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. However, his Do Not Press books take a while to get over here (and then only at larger Borders), even though they are the same editions, except for an added sticker for the US distributors Dufour Editions. I'm still waiting for the import of Bruen's The McDead (and Russell James's latest, for that matter).

As far as I know, Timlin was never available over here except as an import in mystery specialty stores. The TV series never made it over here, either, not even now that its Nick Sharman, Clive Owen, has gotten US visibility due to The Croupier and his latest TV show, Second Sight
(not bad, by the way), is currently showing on PBS.

Welsh's Acid House was printed here before the Trainspotting movie, but that's it. Since the movie, all of his books have been printed here, although with a slight delay. Other Scots, like Gordon Legge don't get the same treatment, although Alan Warner has seen print.

Only Jeremy Hawes' first, A White Merc With Fins, saw print on this side of the Atlantic, and is now out of print. Only Blincoe's first two, from Serpent's Tail, were available here, but not his next two or the New Puritans anthology he edited.

Kevin again:

"And sometimes it's not even British authors. I bought several of George's early books as British editions, because, as far as I could tell, there just weren't any U.S. editions available."

George's first four went in and out of print before most caught onto him. None saw paperback until Serpent's Tail (UK company, but with US distribution on books without a US publisher) put out the three Nick Stefanos books (where I first read them, too). I'm pretty sure King Suckerman was his first book out in paperback by a US publisher.

Does Jason Starr have one or two books that are available in the UK, but were never printed here?

Only a few of Chester Himes's Harlem Cycle are in print in the US, Payback Press has compiled them all in three very nice volumes. Payback's UK catalog overlaps Old School's US listings, but has more titles. Gil Scot-Herron's novels are only available in the UK, as far as I know.

Although they are now out of print, the Brit Black Box Thriller books reintroduced a number of authors, like Thompson and Goodis, who were out of print. Several Goodis titles have no US printer to conflict with Serpent's Tail.

So it would seem that UK publishers find a niche audience worthwhile, whereas US publishers drop their midlists in pursuit of blockbusters.


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