When I got home this afternoon, I found a package on my enclosed back porch — one of the nice things about Mondoville is that the letter carriers know you well enough to put stuff where it won’t get rained on. The package proved to be a day-brightener: Signed copies of three volumes of Lawrence Block’s reissued Matthew Scudder series. The oversized/trade paper volumes are attractive, sturdy feeling, and feature a pleasant shot of the author on the back, looking amiably Mephistophilean. As it happens, the three books (A Stab in the Dark, A Walk Among the Tombstones, and A Long Line of Dead Men) happen to be faves of mine, so this one’s a win no matter how you slice it. Those of you who don’t have friends in high places, meanwhile, can snag their own signed copies through Block’s website, just by clicking the bookstore link at the man’s homepage. Thanks, Larry!
Of course, this is happening because Mr. Block has seized upon the latter-day model of bookselling, using e-book and print-on-demand technology to bypass the slow grinding mills of the traditional publishing industry. But he’s a generous guy, and he points out that we can do the same thing in a recent blog post. (Well, maybe not the same thing — for example, a hypothetical novel from your genial host wouldn’t be as… what’s the word?… good as one of Lawrence Block’s. But the concept remains valid.)
As I’ve noted previously, it seems that writers are catching on to what a lot of musicians figured out a while back — if you can be your own record label (or publisher), you can get your work to people who want to buy it without less difficulty and fewer middlemen. And that means more money for the artist or writer. There’s nothing mysterious about that.