Scoring Free Stuff? I wish.

So over on the Altus Press site, a few people have chimed in with their opinions on the recent “At What Price?” controversy. To recap, I reviewed the new Doc Savage book published by Altus Press. I loved the book.

I did say that charging $24.95 for a 250 page book felt like a ripoff to me.

I ended my review with these words: “Aside from that, however, this book is a treasure and I highly, highly recommend it to pulp fans far and wide. A worthy return of one of pulp’s greatest characters. ” I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars.

In response, the publisher of Altus Press tore me a new one and in a private email said that if I didn’t like his pricing, I should stop buying his books.

Imagine what would have happened if I’d disliked the book.

Well, folks are continuing to respond to the Altus Press’ blog on the events and a few days ago someone named Reggie Van Draught posted the following:


A few words in response if I may be so bold.

I believe that part of the problem is in the inherent nepotism within the new pulp movement community.

Compared to the cost shared amongst the new pulp author clique reading and reviewing each others books (i.e. gratis) the price for an average Altus collection must seem weighty indeed.

In all honesty to this relatively impartial observer it sometimes seems as if the whole “New Pulp” branding was created as a means for the purveyors to “score” more of the recent plethora of pulp material for themselves sans actually…you know…buying it.

Perhaps if Altus kept them supplied with an ongoing flow of complimentary copies of your fine publications the criticism would be less severe.

I find all Altus Press publications to be worth each and every penny.”

Okay… not sure what to say here. I have zero problem if Mr. Draught is fine with Altus and their pricing. I never told anyone — anyone! — not to buy their products. In fact, I’ve made it clear that I plan to keep buying the Doc books, even if I think they’re overpriced. I’m willing to pay that for Doc but not for most of the other stuff that Altus publishes. That’s my choice and Reggie has the right to make his own decisions, just as everyone does.

But I have a problem with the statement that “it sometimes seems as if the whole “New Pulp” branding was created as a means for the purveyors to “score” more of the recent plethora of pulp material for themselves sans actually…you know…buying it.” Where did that come from? I know in my case, I buy 99.9% of the things that I review for All Pulp. Some of them I check out from the library. Some of them I am sent in pdf format by the authors — I’ve received 3 of those in the past year. I certainly don’t troll for free books.

Given how much I spend on books, maybe I should.

New Pulp as a branding has ZERO to do with book reviews, however. It has everything to do with putting a recognizable tag on the books so  that fans of this material can use to find other books that they may enjoy. That’s why New Pulp is around. I was there for the ground-floor discussions about New Pulp and not once — NOT ONCE — did anybody say anything about “scoring free stuff” or about reviews in any way, shape or form.

Didn’t happen.

Could you argue about nepotism in New Pulp, in the sense that there’s a lot of bleed-over between publishers and writers? Yes, I think you could. But not in the way described above.

I’m looking forward to the new Doc Savage book. Desert Demons rocked.

But I still think it cost too much. 🙂


  1. Hello Barry,

    My comment regarding nepotism stems from what seems to be the ongoing circular commentary I have come to see as commonplace (at least to myself) amongst the New Pulp clique.

    It just seems to be that there is a lot of it going on amongst the reviews I have seen, and sometimes a double standard seems evident. Ron likes Barry’s Book. Barry likes Wayne’s Book. Wayne like’s Barry’s book. Ron likes Barry’s Book. Joe likes the New Pulp branding. We all love Joe’s comics. Nobody seems to have heard of Tom’s, or Tim’s, or Franks’s book.

    None of these were too expensive it seems and yet they were similar to The Desert Demons in price per page value.

    Ergo to my way of thinking there must have been some in-trading involved I deducted.

    Sorry, if I was wrong.

    As a nearly lifelong fan of the many forms of pulp fiction I can say there a lot of things about the new pulp movement that rub me the wrong way but I do indeed wish you New Pulpers all the success in the world.

    We classic Pulp fans can be a nit-picky opinionated bunch! But I’m sure you knew that…

  2. There’s a better word for what Reggie’s talking about than nepotism. It’s called “friendship.” Many people involved with New Pulp have known each other for many years. And when our friends publish stuff, we want to support them and help get the word out. So we write reviews.

    And no, we don’t ask for free stuff. Nor do we do it for free stuff. I first bought Barry’s work because I’ve known him for a long time. I kept buying it because it’s damn good stuff. I’ve never asked anyone to send me a free copy. I have received free copies at one time or another, but they were unsolicited and offered to me.

    Most of the New Pulp work I own, I’ve bought myself. Don’t make accusations when uou don’t even begin to know the facts, Reggie.

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