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Major Changes at the Science Fiction Book Club

Jonathan Strahan has the scoop on the unfortunate events happening at the Science Fiction Book Club.

On Monday Publishers Weekly reported that Bertelsmann would overhaul its Book Club business, restructuring a number of specialty book clubs and eliminating 280 jobs. It also announced that it would close Madison Park Press, its 18-month-old original publishing arm, to focus on its book club business.

The impact of these decisions on the science fiction community was immediate. While there have been no official announcements, it appears that both long-serving Science Fiction Book Club Editor-in-Chief Ellen Asher and Senior Editor Andrew Wheeler have lost their positions with the company. Given that they were the only editors working for the fifty-four-year-old SFBC, it seems likely that Bertelsmann will ultimately combine the SFBC with its main Doubleday Book Club.

Strahan also says “it seems certain that the books currently under contract will be the final original books to be published by the SFBC for the foreseeable future.” That is very unfortunate. The SFBC has produced many fine original anthologies over the last few years, some of which brought us award winning stories.

But more importantly, the SF community is sure to be adversely affected by the loss of these two influential Editors. We wish them both the best of luck in their future endeavors and are confident that they will excel at whatever they choose to do.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

10 Comments on Major Changes at the Science Fiction Book Club

  1. Hunh. Guess I can cancel my membership now. The only reason I have it is for the SFBC exclusive collections.

  2. Ah, the SFBC the mainstay of my childhood SF & F purchases and the occasional shopping fun as an adult.

    I’d be really sorry to see them go. My collection is filled with very nice hard cover SF & F that I got through their sales.

    Of course, I only bought during sales. Maybe I should take advantage of the next good sale before they’re gone.

  3. In my usual pattern of striking just when the iron is going ice cold, I rejoined SFBC (for about the fourth or fifth time in my life) via its website Saturday based on a mailing I got Friday.

    Certainly, learning I may have ended up enrolling in the Doubleday Book Club should be grounds for revoking re-enlistment!

  4. With all the changes in the book trade in the last decade I’m surprised that they have held out this long.

    Perhaps, this will open up options for science fiction publishers to run their own paperback book clubs like Dorchester’s Leisure Horror line or Hard Case crime books.

    I’d love to see a sci-fi equivalent to the Hard Case series of originals and reprints. Their deal for two paperbacks for about 10 bucks a month is hard to beat.

  5. Keep in mind, folks, that the SFBC will still be around in one form or another. Or at least I haven’t heard that it’s going away. The only changes I’ve seen are personnel-related and original-anthology-related.

  6. That is really sad to hear. I just joined the SFBC for the first time last year as there were a number of books that they had only that I really wanted. One of my greatest pleasures from that lot was the Robert Schekley anthology that they put out. It was incredible. I hate to think that they will no longer be publishing treasures like this.

  7. Carl V.: Modesty forbids taking credit for anyone else’s work — the Robert Sheckley collection The Masque of Manana was originally published by NESFA Press, a wonderful SFnal small press run by a fan group based in the Boston area.

    (But please don’t ask me to comment on anything else; I cannot and will not.)

  8. “Keep in mind, folks, that the SFBC will still be around in one form or another.

    But that’s the key, officially sure but long time experience in life has led me to considerable cynicism about corporate re-shuffles and division mergers.

    I suspect the form will be a shell of what it once was and not one that will keep me as a member.

    I’m not canceling my membership, but I’m hardly expecting great new things.

    Financial based re-orgs don’t lend themselves to continuing the sort of pricing and sales I found attractive about the SFBC.

  9. Update: A new editor has been named: “Rome Quezada, arriving from William Morrow, where he was an associate editor, has been named editor of the Science Fiction Book Club, replacing Ellen Asher, who retired after 30 years with the company.”

  10. fred strunk // December 21, 2011 at 1:04 am //

    The SFBC has been going downhill for a couple of years now. The same authors over and over. No attempt to take a chance on new authors. I had planned to cancel my membership early next year anyway. The club needed new blood in charge of selecting what was going to be published and I don’t mean old or new cartoons! Right now there are no good let alone great publishing companys of Science fiction/fantasy! Too bad!!

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