When Dorchester announced it would cease publishing printed books, I was really
surprised. A genre publisher with a big footprint—at least in the stores and I
libraries I frequent—was going to cease business as usual and go the eBook route
For me, that meant I wasn’t going to see a lot—or any—of the pulp authors back
in print that Dorchester—under its Leisure Books imprint—had published the past
few years, Max Brand (Frederick Faust) in particular. While Brand had never
gone completely out of print, Leisure was instrumental—greatly by the work of
Jon Tuska—in returning names like T.T. Flynn, Robert Horton, Dan Cushman, Dane
Coolidge, and others to the bookshelves.
Sure enough, as I write this, six months after Dorchester ended its print runs,
none of their products are to be found on the retail shelves in my community.
What I find are westerns from Pinnacle/Kensington (primarily the William
Johnstone series), Bantam (really, only Louis L’Amour), and Signet (a number of
authors). I’m not sure if HarperCollins is still publishing westerns—I don’t
recall seeing any recently.
The local WalMarts carry very few westerns, only the Johnstone titles. Kroger
carries Johnstone and the Signets (mostly Ralph Cotton and the ghosted Ralph
Comptons), and a handful of L’Amour titles. The local chain bookstores carry
these same authors, for the most part, although the selection seems to end with
author names starting with L (for L’Amour), because there aren’t any other
titles on the shelves after the string of Bantam L’Amours, unless the store
carries the Trailsman series.
But I noticed recently that I rarely if ever saw any westerns from Berkley on
the shelves—and I know they’re publishing westerns, because James Reasoner just
had a new book published by that house.
So I went searching. Apparently no one in town is selling Berkley westerns. I
have to order them online. (Okay, I take that back--the stores are selling the westerns written by Robert B. Parker and published by Berkley. But he's the only Berkley western writer I saw.)
The local lack of availability seems odd to me, because Berkley is part of a big
combine, Penguin Books.
So I decided to hunt down some Berkley westerns and read a few. Upcoming posts
will take a look at those books.