Fascinating guy. And it may well be that he really feels value is created by reposting my scans, stripping out M-dashes, and cutting and pasting data, which he sometimes gets wrong. I emailed him once about it, and at least got the CC license added.
But you gotta love the mindset: he’s clearly obsessed on anything I do, and depriving me of revenue, or even fame, from my labors. In all likelihood, the man is older, single, and has a “career” in which he “works” for the government*.
But the license is observed. Mostly. So I can’t object, and that’s fine.
However, I will state for the record that I’m the only one online scanning these novels. And I even scanned when Black Mask was down, and I had no incentive to do anything other than Olympia. I’ve scanned and proofed, well, 20 or 30 titles since the summer, the last time I printed a pulp. For Black Mask as a whole, post-August I’ve done one horror book, and another, Sax, will come out with a new cover, courtesy Goodloe.
It isn’t cost that’s holding me back. Volume POD shops get substantial discounts, “certified” publishers pay $12 for setup of a new title. Four copies, and ya break even. But the market isn’t there, and laboring to make $12 annually is… irritating.
Now, for the record, Black Mask’s initial quality and other issues may be holding me back as an imprint. But even so, none of the other pulp houses are really going gangbusters now. (There was a time when Sales Rank showed inventory #s, an eye-opener if there ever was one.) Noir stalwarts Carroll & Graf and Thunder’s Mouth were discontinued after their acquisition by Perseus. Hard Case is doing all right… but just all right.
For dreary financial stats: Olympia titles used to sell, average, 5 times as well as the typical Black Mask book (when I had those pulps.) Lately, it’s been more like 15-1, and that even includes the goofy literary titles the green ones issue now. Silk, though it has some duds, boasts a couple books that sell, literally, 100 times as much as do the typical Black Mask books.
Hopefully by fall, I’ll be in a position where everything I do is digitized for me, either in India or the Philippines. Costs are, it will be roughly 3 times as much per page to do an Olympia or a Silk book as it is for a Black Mask book (those old crumbly paperbacks… just try scanning them.) With some exceptions (a few of the Silks are being typed for me as we speak).
But anyway, 3x the cost of a book that will sell, for a book that won’t…
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve still got a pretty big stack of pulps here. And I’ll also be redoing a number of my older Black Mask titles over the next several months, for pride as much as anything. There’s also the possibility that I’ll have a surprise hit, or Mr. Temple will jump-start things. But should I make a rational economic judgment and stop putting out new material of that genre, well, ask Dr. Drib if it was worth it.
*Don’t even start, I’ve flown recently, it’s tax season, and coming home from 7-11 I was pulled over for the condo parking tag hanging from down off my rear-view mirror.