Re: RARA-AVIS: Gryphon Books & more about vintage paperbacks

From: Rene Ribic (
Date: 10 Feb 2002

> I recently asked Ed Gorman about the
> > revival of the Black Lizard series to which he basically answered,
> > as far as he was aware of. He went on to bemoan the fact that his
> > company had tried to reissue similar material & couldn't even sell
> > copies.
> Rene, could you expand on this? Did Ed say why, what the problems
> Brad
No, he didn't really elaborate beyond saying that people just didn't want to read them. My opinion, for what it's worth, is that it's a distribution & marketing issue. I don't think very many people have heard of Five Star books - I'm only aware of them, & only vaguely so, because Ron Clinton (I think) has plugged them on the list here. Also, these books are in hardback which I know would put a lot of people off buying them - it certainly doesn't make me jump right out & buy them, even if they were available where I live. Another problem is that, as good as these books probably are, many of the authors are a little obscure, even by HB authors' standards - meaning that they don't have the same sort of cachet (right word?) that books such as "Black Wings" & authors such as the Gold Medal writers have
. There must be some sort of market out there, who the fudge is buying these pricey trade pb's by people such as Goodis, McCoy etc that the
"boutique" publishers are putting out, or the several "pulp" anthologies that Ed Gorman & companeros put out. According to the publisher, "The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction" sold very well, which is why they've put out "The Mammoth Book of Pulp Action". It seems to me that 2 very successful marketing strategies have been using the term "pulp fiction"
(because of the Tarantino movie, is my feeling) liberally & also tying in these books with film versions (which I think could be extended to books that have no movies made from them - a good example would be the 1970's Penguin ed's of Raymond Chandler books which featured stills from old films noir that had been coloured in on all the books, not just those with film versions. Nice covers, too). And, finally, another possible problem is the generic name of the publisher - try doing a search on ABE or any other on-line 2nd hand books site & you'll find yourself swamped with I don't know how many different publishers, which would make it very difficult to even find these books (I forgot what happened when I did this at Amazon. I don't think I found much of anything). I did discover another Five Star of interest - a UK pb publisher in the 1970's who reprinted a lot of Gold Medal stuff (I actually have Peter Rabe's "Benny Muscles In" from these guys). This goes to show how many publishers have used this name - what are the odds on 2 totally different co's with the same name putting out noir material? Needless to say, I didn't give Ed Gorman the benefit of my brilliance as I didn't think he'd take kindly to some goose with no publishing experience presuming to tell him where he's going wrong in a game he's been in for years. All the same, it's what I think. It's not that I think this stuff is mass market material (yet; I wouldn't rule it out completely some time in the future) but I find it impossible to believe that you couldn't sell 500 copies of a revived Black Lizard title, for example, with the right marketing.Anyhow Brad, I'm sorry I couldn't really answer your question but instead had to substitute speculations.
(And thanks, Ron. I didn't get back to you because I assumed you would have seen Ed's response on his bulletin board, as you did).


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