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Whispersmith
New member
Username: Whispersmith

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2008 - 07:04 am:   

Hi. I have lunch with six or seven used booksellers and spec. fiction collectors a few times a year. We met last Friday and the conversation quickly turned to how Night Shade was letting down collectors and booksellers.

Five of us owned/had invested in the collected Hodgson. My friend Raymond said that he had bought 10 copies of each volume. We were all in agreement that reprinting this milestone collection in hardcover let down collectors and used booksellers by devaluing the first printings. Our table represented at least six to seven thousand dollars spent with Night Shade in the past few years.

We all wondered why Night Shade did not just do a trade paper reprint. This would have helped casual readers (who could pick up a cheap reading copy), dealers (who could realize a profit on their investments), and collectors (who would have the desirable and relatively scarce hardcover edition).

We understand the small press profit motive, but feel that Night Shade hurts its long-term brand outlook amongst dealers and true collectors by dumping what are effectively offset editions on the market.

The reprint issues, the product delays, the "lost" pre-orders, and comments like "if you ask about your order you're moved to the back of the line" seem to have removed the dew from the Night Shade bud for us.

I realize that we are a special interest group and probably don't reflect the view of the mainstream and the Night Shade "posse" acolytes and apologists, but I wanted to throw this out for discussion, insults, etc. and get some opinions on this particular issue.

My apologies in advance to those who feel that this is undue criticism, these are just the observations and pontifications of a closely-knit (and probably insular) group.
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Joe_sherry
New member
Username: Joe_sherry

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2008 - 10:12 am:   

My follow up question from someone aware of Night Shade's work, but not with a historical base: Does Night Shade advertise collector's / limited editions and were the Hodgson advertised as such?

Subterranean does limited, but what I've seen from Night Shade has not been so much of the limited edition print runs and more of just having smaller print runs.

I could be entirely wrong, especially in regards to the Hodgson.
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Jlassen
Moderator
Username: Jlassen

Post Number: 24
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2008 - 02:12 pm:   

Night Shade has always appreciated the support of dealers and collectors, and we hope that you will continue to do so.

However, as Joe pointed out in his post, the Hodgson books were never meant to be "collectible" titles. they were $35 hardcovers, not signed, not limited. If you speculated, and paid more than $35, then
1) you took a risk
2) you did not support Night Shade in any way by paying more then $35 for the book.
3) If you bought a bunch of copies at sale, or at cover price, or via normal dealer discount... those books still retain their cover value, and because they are first printings, they will almost certainly appreciate, given the increased number of people who will be trying to put together a set of first printings.

Now, let me be clear.... Night Shade's goal is to have books read, not have books collected. Having books out of print, when there is enough demand for a reprint is not something we are going to do. ever. Witness our reprinting of several titles... not just Hodgson.

A Tradepaperback Hodgson edition would have required new setup costs... a new cover, etc. and there wouldn't have been enough demand for a trade paperback (3-5K copies) AND it would mean committing to an entire trade paperback set. That isn't something we were going to do, just to ensure that dealers can get $200 each for a book that we desperately want people to read.

The comments in our newsletters are directly related to the fact that within hours of our newsletters being sent out, we receive dozens of emails asking the very same information that we make available in the newsletter. PLEASE READ THE NEWSLETTER before you send an email. PLEASE, assume that if you received an order confirmation, we still have your order.

Our comments reflect our exasperation with some peoples inability to read the newsletter. If you take offense, I apologize. But sometimes innocent people suffer because of the idiocy of the few. That's the case here.

Your comment about product delays is an absolutely accurate one, regarding the Perdido limited and Hodgson #5, and I apologize for that. But we do manage to get 30+ other titles out on time each year, and on the whole, I'm pretty damn proud of our record for getting books out on time, over the last 2 years, when we've had a huge number of books on the schedule.

About "lost" pre-orders... the number one reason peoples pre orders dissaper is because their credit card doesn't go through. If its not a sale order, WE DON'T CHARGE YOUR CARD TILL SHIPPING. We don't take your money in advance, so sometimes cards expire, or are now maxed, etc.

Also, when we charge you for sale items, or books that are in stock... sometimes credit cards fail.. wrong numbers, not enough funds, whatever.

We make every effort to contact people when cards don't go through, but sometimes, we just have to put the order in the circular file, when we don't hear back from people.

There will always be problems, and things will slip through the cracks... this is why we have just spent a lot of time money upgrading our website, so that pre-orders are easily trackable by the customer, and status on individual items can be checked, simply by logging in and checking your account. About 4 years ago or so, we went through some very bad shipping times, with lost and unshipped orders. That period has been behind us for over 4, though I understand if we still have a bad reputation on this count, because things were really bad. But things have been really good for some time now.

Finally, I again wanted to re-iterate my thanks for the dealers support of our titles. BUT... BUT BUT... if you are buying our books for purely speculative purposes, thats entirely on you. We are (and always have been) a trade publishing company, and our focus has been on trade editions of our books. We offer limited editions of some of our titles, because we too are book collectors and we enjoy that type of thing. Frankly, we bust our ass to make sure the limited editions have some value... you know, more then just a signuture page added to the trade edition. If possible, we get extra stories or materials for the limited, and if not, we do an alternate binding. And we keep the price of our limited editions down. We've worked hard to offer value to our dealers and collectors over the years, and I think we still do so. But, at the end of the day, our focus is trade editions.

If dealers really want to speculate, don't do so on limited editions by established authors, or William Hope Hodgson. Do so on books like Pump Six, or Imago Sequence or Sword Edge Blond. These are all books that have been printed in relatively low quantity, by authors who are almost certainly going to gain in popularity. The author of Pump Six is going on a nationally syndicated NPR show and has gotten a bunch of mainstream coverage, and I only printed 1,500 trade hardcover editions. The smart dealer should be grabbing this up, because he's the next Ted Chaing. Laird Barron's collection is essentially sold out, except for the few copies we have sitting around the office here, and he's up for a stoker award, and he too had a 1,500 copy print run. He's going to be big. I'd suggest you and the other dealers stop worrying about Hodgson, and start paying attention to our other authors, who's trade print runs are often smaller then a CD or sub press limited edition run.

When asked, we have always told dealers and collectors what our print runs were, and how many we had left in stock, and how fast things are moving. Feel free to drop me an email and ask.

I suggest you look at what has happened to Liz Williams hard covers They can't be found on the market, because we built her up and added to her readership significantly, which has made the hardcovers of Snake Agent and Demon almost impossible to find, and with the mass market paperbacks expanding her audience by 10 times what it was, I can only imagine they will continue to go up in value, as demand increases.

Anyway, I hope you will continue to support Night Shade, in one way or another, as we continue to focus on trade editions of books that are read first, and collected second.
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Jks
New member
Username: Jks

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Saturday, February 23, 2008 - 07:26 pm:   

Hi Guys,

Firstly, Whispersmith, congratulations on a well written and important letter which has inspired me to register and post for the first time in along while. However, although I’m not a member of the Night Shade ‘posse’ (I do buy Night Shade books fairly frequently, but I tend to Marx’s view that I wouldn’t want to part of a club that would have me as a member), I have to say that I lean towards the party line on this one.

I like to read; therefore I tend to like books in general. I especially like well made books - those that can be read a number of times without falling apart. While not completely opposed to paperbacks, the fact is they tend to be less sturdy than hardbacks and also generally have smaller type (a personal problem that is becoming more acute as I get older). Additionally, I do think of myself as being something of a collector, (even if my collection is essentially worthless, as my dear wife points out, as I could never bear to part with anything!). So while I have most of my books in protective plastic bags and I handle my books with clean hands and a care bordering on extreme fussiness - every book I own, I read (and I would defy anyone to pick out which book has been read once and which five times).

Yet, while nobody enjoys the shear esthetics of a nice autographed limited edition hardback with sown signatures and a nifty silk bookmark, just like some of the lovely Night Shade First Editions I have in my collection, honesty compels me to point out that the most I ever spent on a book was something in the neighborhood of 500 beans for a cheaply made paperback by some guy named Paul Merchant. It is for that specific reason that Whispersmith’s complaint strikes me as leaning towards a case of the ol’ sour grapes.

As a former financial professional, I have pointed out to numerous clients in the past that if you are speculating in anything – be it stocks or bonds, commodities, art, even books, you implicitly accept the fact that your money is at risk. The dollar value of your investment may go up but it just as easily can go down. While I can certainly understand where Whispersmith and his friends are coming from (in fact I’ve probably purchased from them in the past – it’s a small world after all), it is the market itself that will determine whether an investment appreciates in value – and Night Shade emphatically does not ‘make’ the market. It’s demonstrable that there has been a market for hardcover genre fiction since August Derleth first came up with the concept for the Arkham House line of reprints (and let me emphasis the word “reprint” – we are not dealing with First Editions here, which are the traditional domain of the collector). Every few years someone is going to reprint Hodgson in hardback and it could have been any number of publishers. It would be like the owners of the Donald Grant edition of The Night Land cursing Night Shade for lessening the value of their ‘original’ investment.

However, regardless of the above, I do sincerely appreciate the fact that there are booksellers out there who will stock genre books for half-assed collectors such as me – who, down the road, are always glad to find a much desired volume whatever the price. Shine on, you guys! And better luck next time.

Regards to all,

Jonathan K. Stephens
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Alvinfox
New member
Username: Alvinfox

Post Number: 2
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Monday, February 25, 2008 - 02:28 am:   

I've always been under the impression that books should be read. Sure I buy the occasional book that costs $60, but I still read it. I even lend it out if someone asks to read it. Oftentimes I come across a collection in which I 'discover' an author and want to read more... Well, Nightshade has helped with that. I bought the entire Manly Wade Wellman Collection. At $35 each that's $175. I just looked at abebooks. The Carcosa prints of Lonley Vigils and Worse Things Waiting, if bought together, can cost from $167.95 to $490.37. And that's only half of the stories included in Nightshades collection. I'm sorry if those prices reflect the depreciation in value because Nightshade has reprinted the stories contained within. But even at those prices, it's just ridiculous.
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Blagdaross
New member
Username: Blagdaross

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 06:24 am:   

I do respect the opinions of the booksellers listed on this forum, and I also think Night Shade is doing wonderful work; but yes, sometimes the pricing by booksellers can become ridiculous. I did not become a fan of Dunsany's Jorkens tales until just a few months ago, and I simply don't have the money to put forth $200.00 for vol. 1, which appears to be about the average price that dealers are asking for these days. The lowest I have seen it for was $120.00, and even that is a stretch for me. It is more than slightly ridiculous that I can purchase copies, ranging from fair to good, of the original The Travel Tales or Mr. Joseph Jorkens and Jorkens Remembers Africa for about $70.00 to $80.00 total on Abebooks, a much less price. So the originals might not contain a few extra stories as The Collected Jorkens do, but this is beginning to look more and more like my plan of action.

On the other hand, I am extremely happy that Night Shade is reprinting the Hodgson collection. I have only read The House on the Borderland, but that caused sufficient enough desire for me to read more of his work. I can now begin to think about when I will be purchasing them because no I can reasonably afford them again. Thanks Night Shade.
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Blagdaross
New member
Username: Blagdaross

Post Number: 2
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 06:26 am:   

I do respect the opinions of the booksellers listed on this forum, and I also think Night Shade is doing wonderful work; but yes, sometimes the pricing by booksellers can become ridiculous. I did not become a fan of Dunsany's Jorkens tales until just a few months ago, and I simply don't have the money to put forth $200.00 for vol. 1, which appears to be about the average price that dealers are asking for these days. The lowest I have seen it for was $120.00, and even that is a stretch for me. It is more than slightly ridiculous that I can purchase copies, ranging from fair to good, of the original The Travel Tales or Mr. Joseph Jorkens and Jorkens Remembers Africa for about $70.00 to $80.00 total on Abebooks, a much less price. So the originals might not contain a few extra stories as The Collected Jorkens do, but this is beginning to look more and more like my plan of action.

On the other hand, I am extremely happy that Night Shade is reprinting the Hodgson collection. I have only read The House on the Borderland, but that caused sufficient enough desire for me to read more of his work. I can begin to think about when I will be purchasing them, because now I can reasonably afford them again. Thanks Night Shade.
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Blagdaross
New member
Username: Blagdaross

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 06:29 am:   

I apologize for posting that twice.
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Whispersmith
New member
Username: Whispersmith

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2008
Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2008 - 10:54 am:   

Hi. Thanks for the comments.

Jlassen - Thanks for clarifying Night Shade's publishing strategy. With the quality of the work you guys consistently put out, I'm sure you'll continue to succeed.

Please understand my strategy: buy books in quantity that have intrinsic value and that will most likely increase in value over time. I have paid dealer price (or below) for every Night Shade book that I have purchased, and yes the books have historically retained cover price value...

But that small margin between dealer price and cover price doesn't really make it worth my while to invest $300 in 10 copies of a book, if I know that the book will most likely be offset re-printed. That ties up money that could be spent acquiring potential higher-margin books.

Because of my business model, and the model of my friends, Night Shade just doesn't represent the investment potential that it once did. Even though you guys continue to put out killer books, we just can't invest in them like we once did because of the re-prints.

You mentioned Liz Williams. I have five copies of the trade "Snake Agent", and one of the limited. These were great investments and I have done well with them - because there was no second printing of the hardcover!

For the most part, non-classic single author anthologies are slow-sells and not the best investment, even if they are absolutely outstanding like "Imago Sequence." I risked it and picked up three copies.

I guess what I am trying to get to is that we're both in the right, but our business models clash. I will buy the hell out of "Perdido" whenever it comes out, but will have to lay back from purchasing bulk copies of future trade titles from Night Shade because I have no idea what will be re-printed! Hence my original conversation with other dealers who feel the same way...

Once again, I appreciate your efforts and look forward to future titles. I will always support Night Shade, but just in a reduced capacity.

Jks - Thanks for your comments. I specialize in selling, collecting, and archiving quality speculative fiction and hope to be there for you should you ever need a volume of quaint and forgotten lore!

Blagdaross - Watch ABE. I have a mint (trade paper) ARC of Jorkens Vol. I that I'll be posting for $50. I'm not going to tell you what I'll be selling the slipcased hardcover set for :-)
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Jlassen
Moderator
Username: Jlassen

Post Number: 26
Registered: 05-2006
Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2008 - 06:34 pm:   

Dear Whispersmith,

Your points are very well taken. But do keep in mind that when you buy up 10 copies of a book... you are doing more then speculating... you are creating artificial scarcity, which makes it unavailable to readers who want to read it, and the act of hoarding by itself drives the price up.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I could have easily sold those 10 copies to people who wanted to read the book... I just didn't have any copies to do so, until I reprinted. Your speculation got me paid quicker for those 10 copie, but has killed the sale of subsequent volumes -- Copies sitting on your shelf are not copies that are creating new Hodgson fans and driving sales of the rest of the series. Collectible speculators are indeed a double edged sword.

The secondary market provides all kinds of price pressure and scarcity issues towards books that aren't' technically "limiteds" but are done in limited quantities. I've worked used/specialty bookstores with collectible sections for over 15 years, and have been a collector myself, so I do have a pretty good idea of what you speak. It's a hard buisness and I wish you the best of luck.


Just out of curiosity, how is the Clark Ashton Smith series doing for you? This is another series where the demand justified another printing of the first volume. We upped the print runs of the later volumes, so that they correspond to the # of copies of the first volume (first and second printing combined). This is one where the reprint will actually drive up the price for your first, far better then having it kept it out of print. There are more people trying to put together sets, as a result of the reprint... I'd be interested to see how your pricing on first printings of vol. 1 go.

-Jeremy

PS thanks for pointing out your ARC. I want more people to read the Jorkens work, but I don't feel there's currently enough demand for a reprint of vol. 1 of the series.

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