Thursday 19 August 2010

Small Presses and Wordsworth Books

There's an interesting thread just started on the Vault of Evil. Although it began as a discussion about the latest issue of Prism, it very soon moved on to that marvellous publisher, Wordsworth, who have brought out some of the very best collections of single-author ghost stories at unbelievably cheap rates. They specialise, of course, in publishing writers who have been dead so long their works are now out of copyright. This naturally saves them any royalty payments. It also means that we, the reader, can read some brilliant stories only available elsewhere in very expensive limited editions from speciality publishers.

Mark Samuels tried to interest them in moving on to publishing a single-author collection by him, even though he offered it to them "dirt cheap". In his own words, though, he was shot down in flames. That's a great pity as I believe there are a number of outstandingly good modern writers in the genre who would be prepared to have collections of their stories published by someone like Wordsworth with very little expectation of much in return, just so long as their stories were made available at reasonable rates to a wider audience. After all, what do any of us make out of the very limited print runs offered by the small presses most of us are published by? Little, if anything is the answer of course.

It would be nice if someone like Wordsworth could be enticed into experimentng down these lines. I am not optimistic, though. And the limited print runs in the low hundreds (or less) at high prices will remain the only option available to most of us for short story collections.

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