As I promised in yesterday’s State of the Blogs post, here’s my summary of what I read this past year. I’m going to include both publishers and individual works that I thought were standouts, but due to length, I’m going to break the post in two. The list of year’s best authors and titles is here. Many of them are published by the publishers listed below.
I’m going to restrict this list to imprints that have distribution in the major chains. That means no small presses. Small presses tend to focus on reprints or collectible editions that are often priced for the collectors market.
Also, I’m going to list some science fiction and crime/noir titles and publishers as well. I’ve not read enough in those fields this past year to justify a separate post on Futures or Gumshoes. I plan for 2014 to be different on that point. Details in tomorrow’s post.
We’ll start with publishers, in alphabetical order (For publishers with more than one imprint, the imprint I read the most will be listed first.):
Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A: All three of these publishers are part of the Osprey Group. Angry Robot keeps pushing the boundaries of the genre. I didn’t read quite as many books from Angry Robot this year as I have in the past. That partly due to time commitments. Strange Chemistry is the YA imprint. It focuses science fiction and fantasy. Exhibit A is the newest imprint, and as you can probably guess, it’s a crime and mystery publisher. I’ve not read any Exhibit A titles, but their line looks really promising. Because this blog was short-listed for an award sponsored by all three imprints, I got to choose three books. All of the titles were from Exhibit A. Look for reviews over the next few months on Gumshoes.
Hard Case Crime: One of the top crime/noir publishers in the world. It’s hard to go wrong with this particular publisher. They provide a solid mix of new and reprint work from some the best in the business. And the contents are as hot as the covers.
Orbit: This publisher almost didn’t make the list since their electronic review copies have an expiration date. Print review copies don’t, so why should electronic? Are they really so worried about piracy that they’ll treat their reviewers as though they expect the reviewers to give their ebooks away? Please, Orbit, show some class. This publisher is on the list solely on the strength of Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood. (No, that wasn’t the ebook that expired.) There are several other titles that have caught my eye I’ll be reading in 2014.
Pyr and Seventh Street: If you’ve read this blog for long, you know that Pyr is the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books. Seventh Street is the crime and mystery imprint. Both imprints publish some of the best genre titles around, in large part because they publish both established favorites and innovative newcomers. Pyr is again my favorite sff publisher, although it does have competition.
Solaris and Abaddon: I’ve not read a great deal of titles from this Solaris in the last year or two, but that’s going to change. I’ve always thought they’ve had one of the best lines, especially in science fiction. Abaddon publishes much darker works than Solaris, across horror, fantasy, and science fiction. I’ve got a number of titles in the TBR pile I’ll be reading and reviewing over the next few months.
WMG Publishing: WMG is a new publishing company owned by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. In addition to bring the extensive backlists of these two authors back into print, WMG is also the publisher of Fiction River, one of best new publications around. Published every other month, each issue has a different focus. Not all of the issues will be fantasy or science fiction. One of the upcoming issues will be mysteries.
That’s my list of the top publishers in 2013. It’s not meant to be definitive. There were some publishers whose offerings I simply never got around to reading this past year.
You’ll notice none of the bigger imprints are included. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, I tend not to buy from publishers who price their ebooks the same price as their print books. That would be most of the big houses. (There are exceptions to this, but not many.)
Second, much of what the big imprints publish either simply isn’t to my taste or doesn’t interest me (I’m talking sff, here, not mystery and crime). These imprints are owned by large conglomerates, and as such, they have an obligation to their parent companies to show a profit. Keeps the shareholders happy and the editors employed. The result of this is that their books often cater to the lowest common denominator or follow trends, publishing what’s hot. One of the consequences of such a practice is that their lines tend to be bland and uninteresting, at lest to me. Again, I realize there are exceptions.