Thursday, August 9, 2012

Marc Olden's Black Samurai and Narc in Ebook format!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of Ebooks. But one thing that’s great about the world of Epublishing is that it can bring back forgotten fiction. Such is the case with Marc Olden, easily one of the best writers to ever work in the men’s adventure field.

Mysterious Press has recently released Olden's work in Ebook format, including his awesome series titles Narc and Black Samurai.

The latter alone is cause for celebration, as the price of Black Samurai novels has been so inflated by online booksellers that the series has almost become too expensive to read. Well, now the joke is on those sellers, because you can get each book in the series (as well as the Narc books and the Harker Files series, which I haven’t read) for about $8 each -– pretty cheap when you consider how much the original printings go for.

I often get emails from readers who complain that they can’t find many of the books I review. So, here is a case where one can easily get a copy of these books...and, having read a handful of Olden’s novels, I can assure you they will be solid purchases.

Here’s the complete line of Olden’s Ebooks on Amazon.

Really, it’s great to see this, and a huge thanks to Mysterious Press and Diane Crafford for making it possible.


Jack Badelaire said...

I can understand how you feel. As a vintage paperback junkie (and I've been one for many years), just the mere act of finding a specimen in good condition - hell, even just buying one online and getting it in the mail - is a thrill. The smell of the book, the feel of that old cheap paper, the tell-tale signs of previous's all awesome.

On the other hand, my home is practically bulging at the seams with books. When (not if) I have to move again, the books alone are going to require a moving van. I simply lack the shelf space to collect much more.

I do, of course. I just ordered a handful of used books over the last couple of days. But I'm much more picky now about what I buy because I have to have a place to put it. Ebooks solve that problem for me, and more importantly, because they are electronic media, they are easily backed up online in one form or another. God forbid something should happen to my apartment, but if it did, all those books would be gone for good, but my even if my kindle and laptop were incinerated or ruined, all my ebooks are just a download away.

I will have to say, though, that eight bucks is ridiculous. For anyone even moderately technology-aware, doing some OCR capture off of a hard copy, then formatting and file prep would be, at most, a day's worth of work. From that point on, the ebook is pure profit. These companies would sell a lot more if they priced those books at $2.99 or $3.99.

Nick Ahlhelm said...

I totally agree with Jack. While I might sample them this way because the originals are SO expensive, $8 is a blatant money grab. Even going high end, $5 is probably a much more reasonable high end price for what is still 70s trash fiction.

Joe Kenney said...

Guys, thanks for the comments. I'm such an Ebook novice that I didn't even realize $8 was above the market average. A cursory scan of the Kindle marketplace on Amazon shows that the average is around $3 or so, so I see what you mean.

My assumption is Mysterious Press might be pricing their Ebooks at the same cost as mass market paperback books. I haven't bought a new book in years, but they seem to go for $8 or so these days. Of course, that's for a "real" book.

Also, I wanted to clarify the intent behind my post: I do often receive emails from people who complain that they either can't find these kinds of books, or the ones that they do find are too expensive. So here at least is a case where previously-overpriced books are now available as Ebooks.

So for that reason alone I think it's great that these books are at least available. I mean, I've seen volumes of Black Samurai listed for $80 or so, which is ridiculous. Who the hell would even pay that?

Then again, it sounds like not many would pay $8 for an Ebook, so maybe if enough people write to Mysterious Press they will consider dropping their prices...


I'm glad to see Olden's book available again, but I'd like to chime in with the others. Eight bucks for an ebook is outrageous. It's silly and it's greedy. The only way they're going to sell a number of these is to drop the price to a much more reasonable 2.99 or even cheaper, as they are reprints, after all. They would sell a lot more copies that way and not piss off their customers. I hope they're still just learning.


Jack Badelaire said...

This is a long-running discussion amongst ebook publishers and buyers. Traditional publishing houses (The Big 6, etc.) and the small press houses that follow their lead feel that ebooks should be priced equivalent or even higher than their paper formats. It is a model that is doomed to fail, but most think it is a knee-jerk reaction to both the popularity of ebooks and misconceptions on how they affect the paper market.

Mysterious Press should look to the way Len Levinson's Rat Bastards and other titles are being e-released by Premier Digital Publishing. They set the titles up for KOLL (Kindle Owners Lending Library) free lending, and the first book in the RB series is $1.99, the remainder are just $2.99. This is competitive with a lot of indie authors such as myself, who aim cheap because the royalties are so good (My WW2 novel sells for $2.99, and I make $2.07 per sale).

In conclusion, I think mismanagement of the ebook market is panic on the part of these small presses not knowing what they are doing. Eventually it'll sort itself out. I agree though, it is great to see old titles finding new life in the e-market.

RJR said...

I considered Marc Olden to be my friend ever since I interviewed him for The Armchair Detyective back in the 70's. I'm happy to see his books becoming available again, especially the underapprecfiated Harker Files series. Thanks to Diane for working hard to keep Marc's work available.


Neil Sarver said...

I'm not sure I agree that the pricing is intentionally cynical, as seems to be the general tenor here, however I do agree that the difference between $2.99 (possibly $3.99) and $7.99 is my that the one I'd easily and happily pay while the other I'm at least hesitant on.

Now, if I were buying a paperback, either a collector's edition or a reprint, I'd happily pay the $7.99 for the Black Samurai books. I've enjoyed what I've read a lot, but haven't finished.

For an ebook, that's just past the price point for me generally. Now, I'm a fan and kind of want to get caught up, so when I have a few extra bucks, I might be tempted. But I'm a pretty specific audience. I'm guessing they'd see a lot more movement and a lot more money overall by lowering the price.

Joe Kenney said...

Jack, thanks for another insightful comment. You definitely know your Epublishing. As is probably obvious, I know nothing about fact I don't even have an eReader.

This pricing issue reminds me of those forgotten days in the '80s when VHS tapes were relatively new, and the retail price for many of them was OVER FORTY DOLLARS! And I'm not just talking about the obscure stuff; as I recall, even movies like Stallone's "Cobra" went for forty bucks on video. It's hard to imagine today, or even to believe, but that's how it was. Maybe people in the future will say the same thing about the initial prices of Ebooks.

Funny you should mention Len and his Rat Bastards. I have a post coming up on that, featuring a great essay Len's recently written on the making of that series and his thoughts on it.

RJR, thanks too for your post, great to hear you knew Olden. I recently "met" Diane via email and she is very friendly and it's great to see she's striving to get Olden's work out there.

Brad Mengel said...

I agree that it's great to see the books back on the market. It's even more awesome that some of the unpublished books are also being released Lee Goldberg has published the fourth book in the .357 Vigilante/Mr Jury series that was never published because of the collapse of Pinnacle books you can get all 4 books as a set for $5.99 or $3.99 each. Chet Cunningham has released the fifth book in The Avenger (Matt Hawke) series and the fourth book in the Specialist series as $2.99 ebooks.

Jack Badelaire said...

I don't want to sound TOO cynical. It really is more the lack of experience on the part of the publishers, and a nervousness of where the industry is going.

Print books will always have a per-unit cost: you have to print the book, you have to pay someone to pack the book, you have to pay to ship the book and store books that aren't shipped, so on and so forth.

But once you have an ebook (and believe me, the process of creating one is quite simple), that's that. Distribution channels are already in place, and there is no further expense.

So when I see a cost of $7.99, I have to ask, what expenses are you recouping with that price? Because if you're doing it not-completely-half-assed, the costs should be slim to almost none. That means all sales from click-yes-forward are profit.

With that in mind, and with the royalty structures of indie publishing and distribution platforms very openly known these days, high prices just aren't tolerated. I can accept an $8 paperback because I know it costs money to make each and every paperback. It costs practically nothing to "make" a new copy of an ebook file and sense it to me.

Most of us who discuss this feel that the ebook pricing is such to insulate paper book sales, which is where most traditional publishing houses still make their money...right now. In five years, any publisher that doesn't adapt, will die.

I actually have much more faith in the small presses to adapt and prosper in this new paradigm. Hell, right now, I'm publishing under my own imprint, both my ebooks and my trade paperbacks. I am, effectively, my own small press.

Hank Brown said...

I can't wait to read that essay by Len Levinson!

Zwolf said...

I'm a notorious hater of e-books... I mean, I'm admittedly unhinged/local-eccentric about it, to the point that I actually think they're going to destroy literature and writing-as-a-profession entirely. But, print-on-demand was already wrecking the firewall against bad lit anyway, so... what the hell. I'll never support them.

But, I know I'm on the losing side of this fight, and so it is a pretty cool thing that these are available in SOME format. I think the Rat Bastards books are available in E-format, too, as well as the Phoenix books. If the damnable e-books are going to exist, then it's good that these titles are getting out there, and the authors can make some new money off their old works. At least, until the files get loaded onto bit torrent sites... which is also happening. And if they're charging $8 a pop for a friggin' FILE, that'll probably be happening sooner than later for these. There's no excuse for charging that kind of money for something that has literally ZERO cost to produce.

I wouldn't count on them being permanent, though... that's one thing I hate about e-anything: there'll be format changes, servers shut down, the new hardware won't read the old files, etc. I've seen it happen far too many times in just the 15 years or so I've been on the 'net, so I don't really trust it. When you buy a paper book, you own it... but when you're just buying access to a file, you can never really trust it. They can take it away from you on a whim. I've already seen it happen (and it's even worse with e-journals... Ebsco are flat-out thieves).

Anyway, it's definitely better than having the books be unavailable completely. I'd say e-books are a good option for casual readers, but if you're going to be a collector, try to get hard copies.

On the good side, though, maybe if people buy these e-things, demand for the paperbacks will go down and ludites like me can finally score an affordable paper copy of _The Katana_ or _The Warlock_. :)

Then, after the EMPs hit, the prices of them will go waaaaay up again! ;)

(By the way, excellent new issue of Paperback Fanatic! Congrats!)

Jack Badelaire said...

Zwolf, I pretty much disagree with every single point you raise, but hey, at least you're passionate about it!

Zwolf said...

Hi, Jack!

Don't worry, I'm used to being disagreed with on it. Like I said, I'm pretty much the biggest hater of e-books on the planet... it's kind of pathological. But, if there's any redeeming factor to it, I *know* I'm an extremist so I don't take it personally if people think I'm nuts. I might be! ;)

halojones-fan said...

Seems like Grove Atlantic is taking the typical legacy-publishing attitude of "a book costs ten dollars and ten dollars shall be the cost of a book".

I hope that Olden's heirs are at least getting some money out of this.