Someone contacted me on Facebook about this, and I thought I'd share with everyone here the message I sent him:
I've spoken with Dorchester about their plans, and I have no objection to their continuing the book club, as long as they don't use the Hard Case Crime name and as long as they communicate clearly to the members just what it is they're doing (and give everyone the chance to opt out if they no longer want to be part of it).
There are plenty of great hardboiled crime novels that have been published by houses other than Hard Case Crime, and it may well be that members of the book club would enjoy getting some of these. I even recommended some to Dorchester that they might send -- for instance, the brilliant Matthew Scudder novels by Lawrence Block, which I'd gladly have reprinted in our line if the opportunity had existed.
However -- and this is critical -- Dorchester should notify all members about what they're doing before they start doing it, so that no one is confused or upset the way you clearly are. If they'd sent you a note saying, "Here's what we plan to do now that we're no longer publishing Hard Case Crime; we'll be mailing you other books in the same spirit, which you can keep or return as you see fit," you might or might not have stayed with the club, but at least you would have felt good rather than bad about what they were doing.
Of course, as you say, it's possible that Dorchester did send you a notice of this sort and you just missed it -- but if they didn't, they absolutely should have. I will make sure they get a copy of your message and will let them know that anything less than full, clear communication with all book club members is simply unacceptable.
My 2 cents: Now that Dorchester is no longer publishing its own new books in this genre, I completely understand that their only option for keeping the book club going is to send out books from other publishers. There's nothing shameful or inappropriate about that. Hell, who knows, if they're still at it when next September rolls around, maybe they'll even buy copies of our new books from Titan and send those out.
The only catch is that they need to communicate clearly with members about what they're doing and why, and give everyone a chance to exit if they don't want to be part of it. I even offered to write a letter myself that they could send to members with the first new shipment; they never took me up on this offer.
But I've let them know about the kinds of reactions they're getting and urged them to communicate with members now to make everything clear.
Hopefully they will.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, David Rachels <RachelsDA@...> wrote:
> The annoyed reader writes . . .
> I received in the mail today what I took to be the latest shipment from the Hard Case Crime Book Club. Having lost track of what HCC book might be coming next (and unsure of whether there were any more coming from Dorchester at all), I opened the package with some sense of excitement . . . and I was much surprised to find a copy of a ten-year-old Sunny Randall novel by Robert B. Parker.
> Looking at the enclosed invoice (no money due, of course--they've already taken my $5.99), I was surprised to see that I am now a member of something called the Hard Boiled Crime Book Club.
> Was I warned that they were going to do this to me? I don't know--I don't usually look at the fine print when they send me a new book. But in any case: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
> David R.
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