Pocket Editor: Reference Books 'Don't Sell'By Caillan
March 11, 2003 - 12:23 PM
Pocket Books editor Margaret Clark recently explained why there have been fewer Trek reference works in recent years - they simply don't sell very well.
"I have no new non-fiction books in my new stuff," Clark wrote at the Trek BBS. "The main problem is that the sales of these books, considering the advance, and the amount of time both the authors and I spent on them just [aren't] cost effective, right now. I can hope. Hell, I love have the folks who actually work on, act in the shows/movies tell me, you know that book, I love that book, why don't you do more like that? And I get to tell them I worked on that book and then I have to tell them the awful truth. They don't sell."
The Unseen Frontier: Declassified Images from the History of the Federation was one of the books that had to be shelved in recent years. "Unseen Frontier was bought when we were selling a respectable number of non-fiction books. It had a healthy advance and there was some money in the budget for additional plant (book) costs. But, one thing or another and the author/s could not make the first delivery date, then the second. When it looked like the third date (three years later) was possible, I had to run the numbers on the worksheet again. Not good, our sales had dropped to the point were the book would maybe, after two or three years, make back the advance. But then there were additional plant costs that [were] wanted, to pay for more art, yet to be delivered. The book numbers dropped into the negative numbers. We tried to see if there was any way to save the book. No go."
Even the recent Star Charts by Geoffrey Mandel failed to make half the anticipated sales. "I was thrilled when Geof came to me with the Star Charts idea," Clark said. "I thought the book would be fun and sell okay. Uhm...let's say that I missed the guess of the expected sales by half, or in other words, we won't break even for two or three years. That's been the pattern of the non-fiction books."
To read more from Margaret Clark on the issue of Trek reference books, head over to this thread at the Trek BBS.