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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why I Hate Reprint-Only Anthologies

There's something boring about the concept of a reprint only anthology. I know that every year publishers release "best of" collections and the like, but I rarely buy any of them, not because I think the stories in them are bad, but because it has nothing new to offer me except an editor's opinion about what constitutes "the best" of the year (an opinion I can get just by looking at the table of contents). I like opinions, but the only reason to buy one of these "best of" anthologies, to me, is for the chance to read a lot of fiction that I might not have seen before (maybe because I don't subscribe to the original publishing venue). Often times, I've already seen the stuff.

But reprint-only anthologies in the English market are, to me, a good-intentioned cashing in scheme. Yes, authors get paid again for a story they sold for a crappy price before (even if they sold to a big market), and a publisher gets a great chance to sell a lot of copies of a book filled with stories by previously published authors, folks who have some degree of quality to be inherited. But beyond that, there's no incentive for me as a consumer to buy a reprint-only anthology, and as a writer I find them rather off putting. Why can't most reprint anthologies have some new and some old work, like a lot of Strahan's anthologies? That way as a consumer I get something new, and as a writer I get an opportunity be alongside writers I respect?

Then again, I guess reprint-only anthologies aren't meant for people like me. I'm the kind of consumer that generally isn't targeted by such things precisely because I've probably already read most of the stuff being reprinted. But, even so, every time I see a call for submissions and realize it's only for reprints I get a sick feeling in my stomach. Maybe that's because I don't have a previously published story to send them; regardless, I rarely buy reprint anthologies for the two reasons alluded to here: 1) it has nothing new to offer me as a reader; and 2) I can't submit to them.

Does that make me a bad person?

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  1. I definitely agree with you to a point. Reprint anthos are off putting to me as an author, but the Best Ofs are cheaper than a years subscription to any of the major mags, and they offer a good overview of the themes and styles that were popular in that year. Also, specifically themed reprint anthos are convenient, b/c the editors spent the time slogging through the mire for fitting stories, which then is something I don't have to do.
    But yeah, I hate going to a 'call for subs' page only to realize they're looking for reprints.

  2. Adam: I suppose if you don't subscribe to any of the magazines, a "Best of" or some other reprint-only book would be great, but beyond that, I don't know if they have that much value to folks like us. I like them, I just don't usually buy them because they don't offer anything new to me.

    And I like the novelty of themed reprint anthos, but I also want to see something new, not stuff that's probably already been circulated a few times before.