I’m not sure I’ll ever figure out the publishing industry. Leaving aside some of the arcane intricacies of how things are paid for, and the interesting paths a book may take from writer to publisher to book stores, there are all sorts of weird things going on. The latest and at least to me most perplexing are the recent decisions by two name game creators to start and discontinue their non gaming publications. Wizards of the Coast started their imprint, and not long later it went poof. Games Workshop started their imprint a bit longer ago, and has had some really entertaining series and works, and yet they’ve decided that despite being a money earner, It just isn’t something they wish to continue. So, Solaris is up for sale.

Because of the "credit crunch" that has precipitated the whole economic slowdown around the world, If someone wants to buy them they will probably have to pay in cash or have an enormous amount of brownie points stored up with some bank. Given the number of publishers who have official, or unofficial buying freezes, this probably makes for a very short list. Either way, this likely means either a major change, or extinction of a brand that is entertaining, and well run.

Given the well documented layoffs, and reorganizations of major publishers, i can’t see anyone who has an SF/F imprint taking on Solaris and doing the right thing by making it mostly or completely autonomous. It’s just not enough a part of human nature for someone to make a purchase that large and then leave it alone. Either favors will be called in, or some bean counter will wish for a more profitable editorial team (read less expensive) or they will decide to move the imprint to the US or Germany, or Russia or wherever and lose people that way. On a small team that already lost a key person to Angry Robot recently, those one or two people lost could have a huge impact on the product.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised and someone will buy them and take a hands off approach, or Games Workshop will decide that as good as the goose might taste the eggs are a nicer thing to have overall. Either way I wish the Solaris team, and their authors good luck wherever the land.

  • At this point in time, I'm looking hard at small presses as a better source of publication(not financially, alas, but for newer writers unless you get struck by lightning). That's based on the advice of several pros I know well.

  • So, what happens to their catalog of already published books, especially for someone like Gail Z. Martin who is smack in the middle of a series?
    As someone who is working towards producing publishable material, its a shame to see what looked like a promising new publisher vanish like that.

  • For Cedunkley – they plan, at the very least, to carry through to spring 2010 on their release schedule.
    As for why game companies spin off these sections, it boils down to one topic: opportunity cost.
    (all numbers are POOMA for sample sake)
    They can spend a hundred dollars on developing, producing and marketing books and get a 15% return. That's a pretty good return. Except that GW can put that same hundred dollars in developing, producing and marketing new miniatures and game books and produce a 30% return.
    That means that, from a straight economic perspective, earning that 15% on books is actually a 15% LOSS from what they should be making.
    This is why WOTC cut their imprint – for Magic cards and D&D 4e. It's why Steve Jackson Games doesn't produce many hardcopy GURPS books anymore – Munchkin makes SO much more money (on the flip side SJG regards GURPS as part of their reason to exist, so they'll never stop making it).
    It's why GW cut Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the wildly successful (by RPG standards) Dark Heresy less than six months after Dark Heresy came out.
    Economics suck 🙁

    • And yet these same fine economics with their preference for theoretical money over real money have never failed so we should of course continue to heed their every bodily emission…

  • Considering WOTC sells gaming tie-ins with rather nice size print runs. I wasn't too surprised to hear them pull out of the regular fiction market.
    Were they even selling 10% on the new books compared to pre-existing game lines?

  • I will definitely miss Solaris. They weren't always getting their books in stores, but what they did were some rather good pieces of fiction.

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