Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chiming in on Solaris's Sale

The news that affected me the most yesterday was Mark Chadbourn's announcement that Solaris is up for sale. Now for me, Solaris is an imprint that gave us impressive anthologies such as The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction and Poe.

Larry chimes in on the subject so I won't speculate. Instead, I'll narrate another similar event last year.

Solaris's parent company is Games Workshop, the guys that produce Warhammer and Warhammer 40K (yeah, it's a gaming company). Until last year, Games Workshop had a Black Industries line which produced games not in their main niche (miniatures). They brought back the Talisman board game for example as well as produced the Warhammer 40K RPG. Interestingly enough, both games went out of print quickly and had fans clamoring for more. Now this isn't really an instance where one or two games was keeping the business afloat at the expense of other failing products. A lot of the forthcoming products from Black Industries was for the Warhammer 40K RPG and its other products were holding their own. Anyway, long story short, Games Workshop shut it down. Here was the official statement last year:
"As a result of the continued and impressive success of our core novels business, which we have built around 40K and Warhammer, we have decided to focus all of our efforts on growing this part of our business. Black Industries has seen fantastic success, most recently with Talisman and Dark Heresy. This change does not take away from that achievement rather it allows BL Publishing to focus on producing the best novels we can. This is a purely commercial decision and will enable us to carry on the huge growth that we have recently been experiencing with our novels."
Now I'm not saying they made a bad decision. Producing books (especially mainstream novels) tends to be more profitable than producing games. Less manpower involved and presumably higher profit margins.

But if Games Workshop shut down what was a successful company line to concentrate on their core brand, the sale of Solaris (and I was surprised at the quality of the titles it was producing albeit one that wasn't necessarily mainstream--anyone remember the Wizards of the Coast: Discoveries line?) shouldn't be so surprising (and let's face it, the publishing industry last year is very different from the publishing industry today).

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