There are few ironies in the calculating world of book publishing. One of them, though, is the persistence of tradition. I don't read many of what are called "popular fiction" books these days. Frankly, I find the truncated versions of trade paperbacks that are supposed to pass for mass market paperbacks unwieldy, and frankly, a waste of paper. Color me conspiratorial, but I think it's just an excuse to charge more money for them.
Hard Case Crime is an imprint that was originally slow to catch on. It started up as a reprint house for those old 50's and 60's hardboiled detective novels that were oh-so-popular at the time. Girasol Collectibles has been publishing pulp fiction from the likes of The Shadow, Doc Savage, and The Whisperer for some time with a certain measure of success. After a few titles, Hard Case began to publish new "hard" crime fiction. And, guess what? It caught on. Even Stephen King has contributed to the line.
On its way to 100 titles, and with a house style of cover art and design that makes it hard to distinguish it from its forebearers, Hard Case Crime is not going to replace popular fiction by any stretch of the imagination, but it does show there is still a market for the old style detective thriller that filled most of the paperback spinner racks in drug stores. That there remains interest in a seemingly lost genre (and one could argue the same for monster movie magazines) of regular-sized paperback novels in the days of the iPad and Kindle is indeed ironic.
The December 2011 issue of PENTHOUSE magazine celebrates the continuation of a tradition that has hung on by its tough, greased-stained fingernails to persist in a world gone mad with social right-sizing.