We went a little crazy with the discounting this week—to my count, six of our eBooks can be had for $2.99-$5.99. I hope you get to enjoy as many as possible!
Did you luck out and receive an eReader or tablet over the holidays? If so, it’s time to fill those digital bookshelves, and we have a low-price suggestion for you: The Grifters by Jim Thompson (Kindle | Nook | Other Retailers).
If you’ve never read Jim Thompson, you’re missing out a classic American crime writer. You know how we lament the overlooked gem? This guy is one of them. In his forward to The Killer Inside Me, Stephen King says, “This anonymous and little-read Oklahoma novelist captured the spirit of his age, and the spirit of the twentieth century’s latter half: emptiness, a feeling of loss in a land of plenty, of unease amid conformity, or alienation in what was meant, in the wake of World War II, to be a generation of brotherhood.”
Andrew Gulli, the managing editor of Strand Magazine adds, “It’s a pity that Thompson’s legacy has been overshadowed by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett; both those authors were giants in the world of noir, but Thompson was every bit their equal. His books, though dark, gloomy, and at times nihilistic, probe the depths of human weakness and excess better than anyone else. Yet, despite his dim worldview, his books are addictive page-turners; it’s easy to know what the ending will be like, but the journey to the ending is captivating.” Despite raves like these, and despite being a sensation in Europe, Thompson has become nearly-forgotten here.
It’s time to change that. Join the Jim Thompson club. Let’s be the discerning readers who bring this great writer back into the spotlight. You’d only be risking $3 to dip your toes into this ingenious story about short cons…and when you’ve blazed through that, we’ve got 24 more eBooks for you:
Already a Jim Thompson fan? Decidedly not a fan? Let me know in the comments!
With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!
There are those moments in life so powerful and disturbing that they defy definition. For me, Jim Thompson’s novels provide such moments. Or maybe it’s more fair to say they knock me into them backwards—ass over applecart.
Apparently, I’m not alone in that. Read what’s been said about Thompson, and you see that everyone is grasping: “If Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Cornell Woolrich could have joined together in some ungodly union and produced a literary offspring, Jim Thompson would be it….His work…casts a dazzling light upon the human condition.”
This is the first quote about Thompson’s work that many readers encounter, the Washington Post blurb splashed on the back of the Vintage Crime/Black Lizard editions that came out in the 1990s, after years when it was hard to find Thompson’s novels. It’s evocative, and for fans of hard-boiled it has a dreamlike feel. But ultimately it’s not very helpful.
Why? Well, the problem with any definition that works by comparison is that it can only sketch around a thing: a chalk mark on a sidewalk, it misses the heart of the matter entirely—the heart that is so raw, so terribly visible, it forces you to work through analogy in the first place. “What does Hammett have to do with anything?” you might argue. “There is none of his carefully-controlled and sleekly-styled disillusion here. Surely the reviewer should have said Chandler, Cain, and Woolrich. Or better, Cain, Woolrich and Chandler, in that order.” In no time, what is Thompson’s is lost.
Yet such an approach is understandable, for to look at the heart of Thompson’s work… Well, it’s a hard place to look. But in the end, the only way to get at it is to read, and then live with the consequences for a while.
Luckily, the new e-editions of Thompson’s novels from Mulholland Books will give you that chance. With original introductions by top crime authors, they get to the heart of pulp so pure that you won’t even miss the feel of pulp under your fingertips.
Take the case of The Grifters, which is among my favorite Thompson novels. (That is, among those I’ve read. I still have others to go because Thompson is not someone whose work you can simply devour sequentially; or if you can, you have a stronger stomach than most.) It’s the story of a triad of con artists: Lilly Dillon, who runs playback at the horse track for east coast mobsters; her son Roy Dillon, a short-con grifter so good at the basic tricks of the trade that he has managed to live at the same address for years without arousing suspicion; Moira Langtry, who throws her body (if not soul) into cons and is sometimes Roy’s lover and Lilly’s rival for his affections. In each other, as in the world at large, they see an ever-shifting constellation of angles to be played: “Because grifters, it seemed, suffered an irresistible urge to beat their colleagues.”
One of the twisted pleasures that comes from reading the book is that we are always poignantly aware of the chasm between the simple financial profit each sees in the other and the rewards they might experience were they to focus on one another’s—or anyone else’s—humanity. Time and again in their thinking, each sees the “something” before the “someone.” It seems this is the defining characteristic of grifters, perhaps the only shared vision in their vastly different worldviews.
While many crime writers have cited Thompson’s fearlessness as an inspiration, I would suggest that he is a great novelist because he has such facility getting inside the thoughts of each character, and for that reason works his way into the reader’s head as well. In other words, the power of his stories is not to be found at the (oft-discussed) operatic heights of his plots—the great taboos, the battles with the mob, the mad things people do—but in the deft clarity with which he reveals the tragedies of everyday living, as they take shape in our everyday thoughts.
Take this passage, the inner musings of a desk clerk at Roy Dillon’s cut-rate hotel who has just been on the wrong end of pointed remarks from one of Dillon’s lady friends (to avoid a spoiler, I won’t say which one):
Fumbling, he took the key from the rack and gave it to her. Looking after her, as she swung toward the elevator, he thought with non-bitterness that fear was the worst part of being old. The anxiety born of fear. A fella knew that he wasn’t much good any more—oh yes, he knew it. And he knew he didn’t always talk too bright, and he couldn’t really look nice no matter how hard he tried. So, knowing in his heart that it was impossible to please anyone, he struggled valiantly to please everyone. And thus he made mistakes, one after the other. Until, finally, he could no more bear himself than other people could bear him. And he died.
This is really all you need to know about The Grifters, or about Thompson’s work more generally. I could relate to you the details of incestuous desires, love scenes that take shape at the crepuscular borders of pitch-dark sadism, infanticide. But that would rob you of some of what you’re bound to feel when you read Thompson, and it would distract you from the very heart of what you’ve just read. The all-too-human heart.
Some of Thompson’s characters might seem like inhuman monsters: Lilly Dillon in The Grifters, Lou Ford in The Killer Inside Me, Nick Corey in Pop. 1280. In fact, British critic Nick Kimberly has characterized such Thompson creations as persons “for whom murder is a casual chore.” I couldn’t disagree more strongly. They’re so full of life, and the awareness that it’s fleeting, that they’d do anything to hang onto it—even take it from others. If they seem to take pleasure in that act, it’s the pleasure of knowing they’ll live another day, of knowing they’ll only answer to Life itself to the very end and certainly not to any mortal. But that’s not really pleasure, and it’s anything but a “casual chore.” It’s a poignant understanding that one must fight to live, and that living is the greatest suffering of all for it is the surest and most powerful reminder of slow, constant dying.
That is Thompson. That is why you must read his work. Be grateful you now have the chance to do so, even if it hurts a bit.
Shannon Clute is the co-author of The Maltese Touch of Evil: Film Noir and Potential Criticism (Dartmouth College Press, 2011) and the co-creator of two popular podcast series: Out of the Past, Investigating Film Noir and Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed. He works for Turner Classic Movies in Atlanta.
E-book editions of all of Jim Thompson’s novels are now available from Mulholland Books, with special price promotions in effect for The Grifters as well as The Kill-Off and A Swell-Looking Babe. Find out more at our dedicated Jim Thompson website.
Did Santa (or anyone else, for any reason or holiday whatsoever) bring you a new Kindle from Amazon this year? Yes, I know there are other models of ebook readers, but I have to stick to what I know, which is the Kindle. And if you have a new one, or even an old one, you may be looking for some ideas about Kindling books - that library of traditional mysteries you've always wanted to carry around with you but never had enough baggage room before.
Well, here are a few suggestions to help you load your Kindle with some fine reading material for a long winter's night or two.
To begin at the beginning, why not "bulk up" and get The Classic Mystery Collection (100+ books and stories) for just $2.99. That includes ALL of the original Sherlock Holmes stories - the four novels and the 56 short stories. It has Hercule Poirot's debut appearance in Agatha Christie's "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" and also her first book about Tommy and Tuppence, "The Secret Adversary." Two of Chesterton's books of Father Brown short stories are here, along with "The Man Who Was Thursday." Ever read E. C. Bentley's "Trent's Last Case"? It's here. And a whole lot more. Sure, there's a lot of "stuff" you may not like - or you may discover some new authors whose works demand exploration. It's worth a shot.
One of my all-time favorite mysteries, still at the top of most lists of "impossible crime" books, is John Dickson Carr's The Hollow Man, originally published in the U. S. as "The Three Coffins," now newly re-released as a Kindle book. if you have never read this one, you are in for a treat. What is it about? In the very first paragraph, Carr sets out this challenge to the reader:
“To the murder of Professor Grimaud, and later the equally incredible crime in Cagliostro Street, many fantastic terms could be applied – with reason. Those of Dr. Fell’s friends who like impossible situations will not find in his casebook any puzzle more baffling or more terrifying. Thus: two murders were committed, in such fashion that the murderer must not only have been invisible; but lighter than air. According to the evidence, this person killed his first victim and literally disappeared. Again according to the evidence, he killed his second victim in the middle of an empty street, with watchers at either end; yet not a soul saw him, and no footprint appeared in the snow.”
And that's exactly what you will get.
Another of Carr's impossible crime masterpieces, written as Carter Dickson and featuring Carr's other great creation, Sir Henry Merrivale, is "The Judas Window," with one of the nicest locked room explanations you'll ever encounter. As Sir Henry reminds you throughout, the solution was simply that the murderer used a "Judas Window" to carry out the crime in a locked and bolted room. What's that, you may ask? Why almost every room has one...if you know where to look...
And there's so much more...for example:
- The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy L. Sayers, my favorite Lord Peter Wimsey book;
- The House Without a Key, by Earl Derr Biggers, the book that introduced the great Chinese-American detective Charlie Chan;
- The Roman Hat Mystery, starring Ellery Queen, the detective, and written by Ellery Queen, the writer (Frederick Dannay and Manfred B. Lee), featuring a murder in a crowded Broadway theater.
I'm sure you get the idea. There are lots and lots of mysteries eagerly awaiting placement on your Kindle; you can build a TBR pile that is the envy of those of us with teetering hard copy piles. The cold, dark and stormy nights are approaching - be sure your ebooks are ready!
(Disclosure to keep the gummint happy: if you should actually buy something via one of my links to Amazon, I get a few cents - literally - as a commission. Now don't you feel better for knowing that?)
If you're looking for a definition of the word "eclectic," I can offer you one in three words: Ramble House publishers. This small and very independent press publishes all kinds of books, including some fine mysteries. Fender Tucker, who runs the place, publishes all of Rupert Penny's Golden Age novels, for example, as well as reams of Harry Stephen Keeler books (I've never read any, but I promise to get around to it very soon and report back).
More to the point, at this holiday season, when you or someone you love may be looking for great e-books as stocking stuffers for that new, or old-and-treasured, e-reader, Ramble House's entire backlist is now available in several popular ebook formats at just six bucks a book.
Which brings me to my main point: I've posted here about "Rim of the Pit," by Hake Talbot, one of the best "impossible crime" books I've ever read. It rivals John Dickson Carr in its ingenuity and its atmosphere; it requires a lot of bravery to read it at home alone on a stormy night. It opens with the line: "I came up here to make a dead man change his mind." And it just keeps getting better - impossible murder, seances, footprints that begin and end in unbroken fields of snow, a giant flying...something...what's not to like?
My point is, if you have an ebook reader that takes either EPUB (Nook and, I think, Sony?) or MOBI format, you can get it now from Ramble House for six bucks. It may be the best six bucks you ever spent on a traditional, well-written, truly terrifying mystery. Check out the "back cover map" - one of the best of its kind - here. Email Ramble House for details on how to get the ebook version - email@example.com
By PD Martin
We’ve had a few blogs recently on ebooks, including discussions in the Comments on sales figures, Amazon’s Lending Library and Kindle Select. I’m hoping there are others out there who felt their appetite was whetted rather than sated and that perhaps a full blog JUST on those two aspects would be interesting. I’m not saying I have the answers (in fact, I have a few questions!), but I wanted to open the discussions up and share my experiences. And I've got an important question for readers, too :)
For those of you who aren’t aware, Amazon’s Kindle Select means the author must offer their book exclusively via Amazon, and in return that book can be borrowed (and you get $ for each borrow) and you can use five free promo days a month. The free promo days mean you offer your book for free and it heads up the charts. Hopefully!
So, a recap on the more recent ebook posts here at Murderati:
Alex blogged on her epublishing decision
Zoe blogged on modern manners and social media
Now you’re all caught up.
So, Kindle Select. I did my first Kindle Select campaign with Coming Home back in May. I set it to run for 48 hours but after less than 24 hours, over 5,500 copies had been downloaded. I was excited and alarmed. Do I really want THAT many people to get my work for free? I foolishly stopped the campaign. I was in the top 40 of Kindle and #6 for Suspense (or was it mystery & thriller). Of course, later I realised the error of my ways, especially when Brett talked about 30-40K of downloads over three days.
However, back in May I was excited by my first, tentative step into the Select program. You see, I saw a sales spike when I took Coming Home off the free promotion. In the following 48 hours I sold roughly four months’ worth of sales and I thought: “This is it. I just put one of my books up for free every couple of weeks and I can boost my ebook income.” I should also note, I didn’t do ANY promotion. Not even on Facebook or Twitter (I didn’t want to tell my readers and fans that they’d bought the book for $2.99, but others could get it free).
Anyway, a few weeks later I decided it was time to spike my sales again. So I put Coming Home up for a two-day free stint. Again, no advertising or promotion of the freebie. This result was COMPLETELY different. WTF? I got like maybe 300 free downloads. WTF?
David DeLee mentioned in his comment on Alex’s blog that his more recent results with his free days haven’t been as good as in the past, and I’m wondering if maybe the first time you put it up for free Amazon ‘realises’ and advertises it some way? And Brett’s post mentioned that results haven’t been as earth-shattering recently either. So what gives?
It seems now we need to advertise and promote our freebies. Perhaps through social media (but we don’t want to turn people off – think back to Zoe’s blog last week) and maybe through blogs (Alex’s post on Tuesday is relevant to this one).
Or is something else changing? Simply more players in the market, more authors going in for the free promos? Or maybe it’s something more complex. On Tuesday, Alex talked about the Amazon algorithm. Anyone out there give me more info on this? I’m not sure if this is to do with the ‘We recommend’ emails Amazon sends out or the free promo stuff.
And finally, Amazon’s Prime Library. Again on Alex’s epublishing post, Robert Gregory Browne talked about some pretty high numbers in the lending department. But I’m literally getting lends in the double digits per month. So how do we promote our books in the Lending Library to get a share of that $600,000/month?
I do also have an important question for readers out there …would you be disappointed or annoyed in any way if you’d paid for an author’s work and discovered it was free a few days (or weeks) later?
See…told you I had questions!
By Steve Weddle
Kids, gather ‘round. I’m going to tell you how it was when your grandma and I were your age.
See, we didn’t have all of this Twitter and Facebook. We grew up in East Bumfart. We had a weekly paper called The East Bumfart Beacon-Eagle. On Sundays, I’d drive up to Fartopolis and pick up the Sunday paper. They had a couple reviews of books. You know, a cookbook, maybe. Or something they got from one of those New York papers from a week before. Anyway, that was how we found out about books. And we talked to Gladys down at the county library. You probably don’t remember her. She was Berta Mae’s great-aunt. Anyway, she’d tell us about a book we should read and then she’d order for us from that Inter-Library Loan thing they got going down there. Then she’d give us a call on the telephone the next month and tell us the book was there.
Anyhoo, we didn’t always find out about books and such. Now that brings me to what I wanted to talk about: you and these author friends of yours.
See, now you have this terrible, awful weapon called GOOGLE ALERTS. And I know damn well what you use it for. See, you and your author friends put your names in there.
Holy shit, I’m tired of this grandpa voice. Hang on.
OK. That’s better.
So last week I blathered about the Terry Goodkind loyalty thing and at the end there I mentioned the Terry Goodkind piracy thing.
He had been blogging about releasing his book as an ebook and had engaged his audience about pirates. He’d said, as best I can tell, that he knows piracy exists and what should be done about it and why do pirates pirate and all. One of the big reasons was convenience. So he set about making the book available in all platforms. Seems that, in this Age of the Internet and all, engaging with readers is easier and, you know, kind of expected. So, that's what Mr. Goodkind did and good on him.
Then a dude pirated the book.
So, as the story goes, Goodkind contacts the dude and doesn’t like the response, so Goodkind then publishes the guy’s personal information.
I mentioned this on Twitter, and Mr. Goodkind tweeted back at me to say that he had most certainly not released personal information.
I will never understand how a book like this gets published. I have written five novels vastly better than this, and I can't find an agent. Yet here is this book, about a crime family of dragon breeders taking over San Francisco in the 1850s, and this book is now part of a trilogy? The writing is childish, the characters shallow, and the cover seems to have been scraped together by a diuretic rhinoceros.
FREE FOR ALL:
Starting in a matter of hours, at 3am Eastern time on Saturday, June 30, you can download my short story, “Welcome to the Real World”, absolutely free.
The story’s one that was written too recently for inclusion in Enough Rope, my omnibus collection. It’s a golf story, and its sole appearance in print was in Otto Penzler’s golf anthology, Murder in the Rough. It’s one of the dozen Stories From the Dark Side I recently enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Select program, and that means I get to give it away.
So that’s what I’m doing. This is not sheer altruism on my part; it’s my wistful hope that you’ll like the story enough to sample some of its dark-side fellows. But I won’t feel betrayed if you don’t. What I’m aiming at right now is the highest possible number of free downloads while the deal lasts. So spread the word!
The story’s free for three 24-hour days, and the window doesn’t slam shut until 2:59am Eastern time, Tuesday, July 2. It’s a Kindle exclusive, but you don’t need to be a Kindle owner in order to take advantage of it. A free Kindle app, readily available from Amazon, will enable you to read Kindle books on your Mac or PC, iPhone or iPad or Android, and almost anything else. (And at least two enterprising fellows figured out how to read Kindle-only books on a Nook; scroll through the comments that follow this recent post. While you’re at it, you’ll see the full list of Stories From the Dark Side.)
FREE FOR SOME:
One interesting element of the Kindle Select program is a benefit restricted to Kindle owners who belong to the Amazon Prime program. As a perk of membership, they get to borrow one title per month at no charge. Borrowing a 99¢ short story is probably not the best possible use of one’s monthly slot, but a full-priced book for free is not bad, and I’ve had a decent number of borrowings already of Ehrengraf For the Defense, the 11-story collection just published earlier this month. (If it’s a bargain at $4.99, it becomes an absolute steal when it’s free.)
Some of you have expressed concern that borrowing the book might deprive me of my royalty. Not so. Amazon pays authors for borrowed books. By all means, feel free to borrow any available titles of mine.
I’ve been assured these prices are good through the end of July. I hope they’ll be made permanent, but there’s no guarantee of that. All the more reason to act now.
And, also for writers but for readers as well, my Open Road eRiginal, Afterthoughts, remains a stupefying bargain at 99¢. (But you snapped it up months ago, right?)
ALMOST FREE IN LB’S BOOKSTORE:
The Specialists, a one-book series and a signed small-press hardcover first edition, for $4.99.
Break Writer’s Block Now!, Jerrold Mundis’s groundbreaking how-to primer, a simple approach to a complicated problem, reduced to $5.99.
The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza and The Burglar in the Rye, signed hardcover firsts reduced to $9.99.
Tanner’s Tiger, the Subterranean Press hardcover, signed, for $9.99.
46 different Large Print Books, most of them one of a kind, most of them hardcover, all of them signed, $9.99 apiece.
20 different Audiobooks, most of them one of a kind, almost all unabridged, $9.99.
20 additional items, including UK editions, anthologies, a little of this and a little of that, and all for—yes, $9.99.
A LONG LONG WAY FROM FREE:
While $9.99 may look like our default price at LB’s Bookstore, we have some high-ticket items as well. As an alternative to the trade edition of The Specialists, on special at $4.99, you could dig deep and opt for the signed-and-numbered limited edition of that title, housed in a custom slipcase and yours for $29.99.
We had three copies of the ASAP limited edition of Ronald Rabbit is a Dirty Old Man, a very special item which we offered for $49.99. They’re all gone, but we found a few more in another carton, and will list them soon. (Meanwhile, if you want to read what Isaac Asimov called “either the dirtiest funny book or the funniest dirty book ever written,” we’ve got the Subterranean Press trade paperback for $19.99.)
And what else have we got that’s nowhere near free? Well, how about the Dark Harvest hardcover first editions of The Sins of the Fathers and Time to Murder and Create? The first has an intro by Stephen King, the second by Jonathan Kellerman. Each is priced at $99.99. The true worldwide first of Even the Wicked is Orion’s UK edition; it was on-sale in October of 1996, with Morrow’s US edition delayed until February 1997. Orion printed around 1000 copies, and most of those went to libraries in the Midlands. We’ve got 7 of them for—you guessed it—$99.99.
We’ve listed six titles at $49.99, including the Subterranean Press signed-and-limited edition of Cinderella Sims and Crippen & Landru’s signed-and-limited of The Lost Cases of Ed London. That’s two of the six, and I’ll leave you to ferret out the others on your own.
HOW MANY SHADES IS THAT?
I’m not sure, but the question brings to mind a favorite exchange:
Q: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?
A: I don’t know and I don’t care.
But you know, don’t you? And you don’t have to care a whole lot to click your mouse a couple of times and download Welcome to the Real World. And enjoy the summer!
By PD Martin
Looks like we might be having an ebook week here at Murderati (well, two out of five posts)! I’d planned to look at ebook pricing for today’s post and while at first I thought I might scrap it, given the amazing blog of Brett’s on Tuesday, in the end I decided the two blogs would go hand in hand :)
I’m also coming at this from a different perspective to Brett—I’m a newbie. While his strategy started last year and, by the sounds of it, in earnest about 12 months ago, mine started this year. So I’m probably about 12 months behind Brett in terms of the learning curve (and sales). Fingers crossed my sales will look more like his in 12 months! I’d also like to say that Brett has been generously giving me some tips via email. Thanks, Brett! He’s a nice guy…you should go buy his books.
Anyway, ebook pricing. One of Brett’s tips was to experiment with pricing and that’s what I'm doing at the moment. There seems to be a few common price points for self-published ebooks, namely:
- Free (ahhh!!!)
A friend recently forwarded me a great graph that was presented by Smashwords founder Mark Coker. I know we’ve talked about the fact that sales from Smashwords make up an incredibly small percentage compared to Amazon sales, but it’s still interesting to look at this data.
So it seems the sweet spots are hitting at $0.99, $2.99 and another small spike at $5.99. Interesting, huh?
I noticed from Brett’s post that my pricing points seem to be in sync with his for the most part, with shorts at $0.99, my one novella at $2.99 and my full thriller novel at $3.99. But, when I released my Pippa Dee books (YA and much shorter than my thriller novel at 50,000 words) I priced them at $2.99. I thought this seemed fair. Reasonable. Attractive but without de-valuing my work.
However, these books simply haven’t been moving. Was it the new name? Establishing a new brand? Possibly. Or the genre? While they’re books I believe most adults would read and enjoy (and they have), they have teen protagonists and so that ‘officially’ makes them targeted to the middle grade and YA market. Maybe not a good market for ebooks? So as part of my experimentation I’ve lowered the price to $0.99. I should say, this move to the $0.99 was partly because of the above graph, and partly because I have a friend who’s doing well in the ebook business and has priced ALL her books at $0.99. She felt that low price point was a key part of her strategy to build her brand and name. I only reduced the prices a few days ago so it’s too early to tell if this strategy will work or not. But it means I have been thinking of ebook pricing a lot recently and wanted to post about it here, too. Here are the two for $0.99, by the way.
So, Murderati, am I making these a great deal for adults and teens alike, or undervaluing my work? What do you like to pay for your ebooks? Maybe the graph above reflects your buying patterns too. Note: I actually asked what people like to pay for ebooks on Facebook and, incredibly, got answers around the $5-10 mark. Then again, I posted during Aussie daytime and so I think all the respondents were Aussies—who are used to paying a fortune for books!
Longtime Western fans and Amazon Kindle best-selling Western writers Mike Stotter and Ben Bridges have finally realized a long-held dream to bring back into 'e-print' some of the most popular and best-loved Western and action-adventure series fiction of the last forty years.
Series fiction, the most popular genre was always the Western, but it also encompassed war stories, tales of pillaging Vikings, life in the Roman arena and action-adventure set in the far-flung future, was at its most popular throughout the 1970s and 80s and is still fondly remembered and avidly collected by die-hard fans. Some books are now so hard to come by that it's not unusual for them to change hands for astronomical amounts.
"We got to know a number of the authors when we were teenagers," remembers Mike. "Although they mostly wrote Westerns, they often joked that they had never been further west than Piccadilly, in London's West End."
"It seemed such an obvious idea, to bring these books back in a new format for a predominantly new audience," says Ben Bridges, a.k.a. David Whitehead. "For years I had been scouring second-hand bookshops to rebuild my original collection, and everywhere I went I got the same response. 'If I could get my hands on Westerns, I could sell them. But you just can't get them anymore.'"
"It seemed like a ridiculous situation," adds Mike. "I have constantly heard that the Western genre is dead. Yet, through sales, I know we have a large Western readership out there and no-one is catering for them. So I suggested to Dave that maybe he and I ought to do something about it--and now here we are."
The first Piccadilly Publishing eBook--Trackdown, by Neil Hunter--is now available for download from Amazon's platforms in the UK, US, Spain, France, Germany and Italy, and more titles are set to follow over the next several months. There are plans to expand their availability on other electronic platforms.
"We're adding authors and series to our catalogue almost every day," reports Whitehead. "Over the next year or so I think we'll surprise and delight our fellow fans with what we have to offer."