The Geomancer


Prometheus Books Enters the Mass Market Paperback Format With Series on Pyr Imprint

CONTACT: Jill Maxick

November 10, 2008

Prometheus Books Enters the Mass Market Paperback Format With Series on Pyr Imprint

Three-book Science Fiction Series Planned in “Premium” Mass Market Size

Amherst, New York—In May 2009, Pyr, a science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books, will publish Crossover: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel in the premium mass market paperback format, with dimensions of 4-1/8 inches x 7-3/8 inches and priced at $9.98. Premium mass market paperbacks are taller than the traditional premium mass market size, allowing for improved readability and cover image area. Crossover, by Australian author Joel Shepherd, was previously published in trade paperback in August 2006.

The Cassandra Kresnov novels Breakaway and Killswitch will follow at the same price and format, to be published in June and July 2009 respectively.

“We’ve had significant interest from the major booksellers in seeing Pyr enter the mass market format, and a great deal of interest in this trilogy in particular,” says Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders. “Joel’s series is smart, sexy, action-packed, and features a very well-rounded and admirable female lead. We’ve been very happy with their performance thus far in trade paperback, and feel they are especially suited to lead our charge into mass market, a perfect example of the type of smart, action-packed and engaging read that Pyr is becoming known for. I’m thrilled that Cassandra Kresnov is poised to entertain even more readers with her mass market debut.”

Cassandra Kresnov is a highly advanced hunter-killer android who defected from her League Dark Star special ops assignment, seeking the quiet life of a civilian, but then becomes unwillingly embroiled in dangerous interplanetary intrigue. Shepherd is known for his strong female protagonists, his gripping action sequences, and his rich depiction of Byzantine political machinations. Tobias S. Buckell, author of Halo: The Cole Protocol, called the series, “A blast to read,” while Publishers Weekly described it as “Robert Ludlum meets Elizabeth Moon.”

Plans for making some Pyr titles available in e-book format are also in the works.

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  1. Mark Chadbourn3:14 PM

    Congratulations! A great leap forward.

  2. Thanks. Very excited here, first of many!

  3. Anonymous1:06 AM

    Good news, but it's a bummer about the format though...

    As a frequent book buyer and a huge fan of mass-market paperbacks, I have found the newer "premium" sized paperbacks to be unwieldy and strange - they do not feel right in my hands and I have yet to buy one.

    I do not understand how the market research bore out in favor of the format's creation, but I'm sure someone liked it or it wouldn't exist.

    Good luck with them, but I'll be hoping that you eventually drop down to the smaller format, thus encouraging me to purchase titles from some of your lesser known authors like Sheperd.

  4. Thank you for the feedback. I'm very excited by the format myself. Meanwhile, so are others it seems. The news has been picked up here, and here, and here.

  5. Anonymous10:44 AM

    I'm happy to hear that your getting
    into the Mass Market Paperback
    format. Wish you were going with
    the traditional size. I don't really
    want to spend MORE money for a MM
    paperback. Given the state of the
    economy wouldn't it be better to
    make your books more affordable !
    I would be more likely to
    buy 3 Mass Markets than 1 Hardcover
    title for about the same amount of cash.

  6. Anonymous11:04 AM

    I have to agree w/ the negative comments about the new format. I know the excitement here should be about a new line of mass market paperbacks, but frankly, I find the new format awkward and unwieldy. Not only that, but a price increase of approx. $2 just because the dimensions of the book change?

    Despite this, I wish you success w/ the new line.

    Jeff P.

  7. Anonymous12:42 PM

    I'm in agreement on the dislike of the new format. Seems like a marketing gimmick to me. I've never had a problem reading the traditional MM.

    So unfortunately, I won't be buying these in premium MM (or any book in premium MM format). But if I do buy them (which I was looking forward to reading this series at some point), I'll buy them in TP. Or not at all.

    MMs are already $7 to $8. It's hard for me to justify $10 for a MM just because there is more space on every page.

    However, it is good to see Pyr expanding. You guys are one of the best SFF publishers out there. I like a lot of the stuff you publish.

  8. You know, I appreciate everyone's honesty and feedback. Thing you have to understand is - it's neither a marketing gimmick nor a price jump of $2. As a publisher who has never done mass market before, it's actually a price drop for us of about $5 to $15.98 off our trade paperbacks and hardcovers. The parent company is an independently-owned mid-sized publisher (a rarity these days), not a big multinational conglomerate, so getting into mass market is a risky move. Mass markets have an incredibly low profit margin and an incredibly high rate of return - stores take them in great quantities and return them in same. And unlike trades, where you get the whole book back and can resell it, mass's are torn up. So one bad move can really hurt a smaller publisher. The premium format gives us a little more margin of safety while taking this (big for us) step. It also allows us to continue to showcase the great artwork that we've been known for, and - as SFSignal points out - that extra inch will help our books stand out while allowing them to fit into the mmpb racks in stores, getting them more shelf exposure as they do so.

    I'm very excited by it, especially by the possibility of reaching a wider readership that doesn't necessarily frequent the blogs, but I'm not going to complain if our core readers keep buying in trade paperback and hardcover. (Hardcover is my own preferred format, personally.) Again, I appreciate all the feedback, positive and negative, as well as the nice things said about the line in general by those who aren't necessarily wild about the premium size. We're taking steps into e-book and audiobook editions too, so basically this is all about expanding and growing the line, reaching more readers across a variety of formats, and seeing what we can do. Thanks!

  9. I'd rather see Pyr get into DRM-free, multi-format eBooks, maybe in partnership with Baen's Webscription service.

    To be honest, I'm buying fewer and fewer paperbacks. If I can get an eBook, I'd rather buy that. If I can't get an eBook...more often than not, I just skip the paperback.

    Partly it is space (I have over 8,000 books at home). Partly it is just that I find it very "science fictional" to carry 2,000-odd eBooks around with me.

    With this new format...very nice covers, but I'd be even less inclined to buy them. Why? The odd size will make storing/shelving more difficult (neither fish nor fowl; they will look too small on the hardcover shelves and will not fit in with other paperbacks). I'd be more inclined to buy, if they were "standard" paperbacks.

  10. Anonymous4:19 PM

    I appreciate your reply, Lou (my first reply was the one before yours), but I'd like to clarify something. Clearly, you have a legitimate reason to go with the premium format. And I am all for you guys doing whatever it takes to keep the business going. As I said before, you are one of the best SFF publishers.

    I don't think that Pyr publishing MMs for the first time in this format (at such a risk for a small publisher, as you said) is a gimmick.

    However, the concept of the premium MM as an easier to read product (with a $2 price jump) is a gimmick to me. I feel this way because if you look at the authors being published in the premium format, for the most part they are authors who publishers aren't really have to take a risk on: Stephen King, John Grisham, etc.

    The shelf exposure point is legitimate, as the premium MMs tend to stand out more than a standard MM. So the the premium format is probably much more valuable to a publisher than it is for the consumer.

    Again, it's good to see Pyr expanding.

  11. I understand that. It may even be a gimmick from the perspective of the publishers of the authors you site. From our perspective, it's a stepping stone to expanding a readership, as you say. And a big step, though not the only one.

    Case in point, there are a few Pyr audiobooks out there now at Audible, and I've already heard from at least one reader who bought the audiobook first, never having heard of us before, and then - as I always believed happens - went and bought the print book when he was 1/2 into it. Getting more people aware of the line = good.

    And thank you again for the kind words. We're working hard here so I'm glad someone is noticing!

  12. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Congrats! These sound great! Any chance Mike Resnick's Starship books will be coming out in this format?

  13. There are quite a few books I want to bring out in this format - as well as forthcoming books that would benefit from it as well - but the Starship books are very near the top of the list!

  14. Rich Dodgin10:08 AM

    I recently bought "Crossover" - the larger size (and fantastic cover design) is precisely what drew my eye to it in the book shop.

  15. Hi Rich
    That would be the trade paperback edition, not the mass market - but thank you. I hope you are enjoying it!