Tuesday, December 4, 2012

True Crimes and Misdemeanors

Click Cover for Amazon
I'm a big fan of true crime books. Not mystery books. I want the real thing. I'm sure most people would find this predilection out of character and I admit I've wondered about it myself. Is there something wrong with me, something ghoulish? I've even written a poem about it, Why I Read True Crime Books, a sestina, of all things, a form that I wrestled with for months. 

So when I heard that Joe McGinniss had a new book in progress, my ears perked up. This new work is of double interest to me because it's being released in serial form. McGinniss says the old way of publishing books is on its way out. Of course, publication by serialization isn't new; it's an old method resurrected. Charles Dickens, for one, published his novels chapter by chapter in magazines and newspapers. This "new" way seems ideal for people who love their Kindles. And while some of us might feel frustrated and impatient waiting for the next installment, don't we already do that for TV series?

The series title is 15 Gothic Street which is the address of a courthouse in Boston. That's the setting where each episode, a criminal trial, takes place. My impression, then, is that each episode will be self-contained. Each episode gets its own title. The first is "Primitive," which sells for $.99. The second episode is "The Human Circus," which is now available and sells for $2.99. It looks like subsequent episodes will be released at 2-3 month intervals. At the completion of the series, McGinniss plans to release the entire book in traditional book form. I wonder if this will boost sales?

The work is published by Byliner Serials. The press offers this description of their work: "Byliner commissions, collects, and curates quick-read stories from the world's best writers." Visit the website for a list of the authors on board. Apparently, getting on board is by invitation only. I wonder if this will start a hot trend?

I also wonder if this could translate to poetry. How would you price a single poem? Just think, as I often do, if a poetry book contains 40 poems and sells for $15, the poems are going for less than $.40 a piece. And yet how many people shell out money for novels but won't do the same for poetry books? Surely, a poetry book is one of the best bargains around, especially considering that the poems so often bear repeated readings.

So let me end with a reminder that the perfect holiday gift is a poetry book. Let's all buy at least one poetry book for someone we care about. It would be a crime not to.

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