"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
Last Thursday, June 7th, Matt at Shocklines announced that he was closing up shop. He will be keeping the messageboard, but he is going out of business as a bookseller.
Last March, Brian Keene summoned up the state of small press marketing in a post to his blogs entitled “A Year of Scorched Earth.” He stressed the way that the small press had become dependent upon Shocklines for the bulk of their sales. Shocklines could make or break the possibilities of the small press to stay alive.
His shop was the single largest online shop carrying chapbooks and trade paper, and limited editions from the small press. An advance order from Shocklines could decide the number of books in a print run. Shocklines was that important. The other online stores devoted to horror cannot and will not carry an inventory that huge. It’s expensive. Small press books are non-returnable. Carrying them is a huge investment.
The small press market for horror has become glutted with mediocre writing to the point where it is difficult pick the wheat from the chaff.
With the rising cost of living, people have fewer dollars to spend and none to waste taking chances on small press books. Why buy from the small press when you can get two books from the majors for the price of one small press title?
So the trend of diminishing returns has finally hit a distributor instead of just a publisher in the industry.
Are we looking at the beginning of the end? Or just downsizing? This has happened to the majors, who believe that most horror does not sell, and therefore most of them will not carry books in that genre. When we see a major distributor go down, the handwriting is on the wall.