EDitorial Comments

Coming Next Week: THE JOHNSTON MCCULLEY OMNIBUS

Posted in The Johnston McCulley Collection,Upcoming Books on February 1, 2019 @ 3:04 pm

Some of you will recall that upon publishing The Return of Black Star, a novel cobbled together from early yarns written by Zorro creator Johnston McCulley for Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine, we announced it would be followed by two similar collections by that author. Titled The Thunderbolt Strikes and The Spider Spins His Web, these book-length compilations gathered together the first three novelettes in each of those McCulley series, also published sequentially in Detective Story.

Priced at $19.95, like the other pulp reprints in our line, Return of Black Star didn’t exactly catch fire, sales-wise, and we indefinitely postponed the releases of Spider and Thunderbolt. Having done the time-consuming work of scanning and editing these stories, we’ve decided to publish the material in a different format that originally envisioned, rather than see them languish on the shelf, so to speak.

Therefore, rather than make the trilogy available as three twenty-dollar books, we’re bundling them together between two covers and pricing the jumbo-sized volume at $35—which works out to less than $12 per novel. We realize this will inconvenience those of you who did pay $19.95 for Black Star, but look at it this way: Buying the Omnibus for $35 will still be cheaper then buying Spider and Thunderbolt separately at $19.95 each.

You’ll notice the Omnibus uses the same John A. Coughlin Detective Story painting we put on Black Star‘s cover. Candidly, we feel this piece of artwork is more attractive than those DSM covers heralding publication of the initial Spider and Thunderbolt stories; hence, we’re giving it a second revival. Additionally, the Omnibus will feature an expanded version of the introductory essay we wrote for Return of Black Star.

We’ve completed layout and will be doing a few last-minute tweaks this weekend before registering the title and submitting the corrected digital files to our printer. We expect to get approval and begin soliciting orders by next Friday.


2/1/19: Customer Service Update

Posted in Murania Press on @ 2:31 pm

We’re happy to report that, finally, our lead time for order fulfillment is shrinking. It’s not quite what it is a year ago and before, but the average order is now being printed and shipped in a week or so (as opposed to the two weeks or more that was common in the last several months). That means most of you can count on receiving your books in about ten days from date of order, sometimes less.

Your continued patience is very much appreciated because, as we’ve stated here previously, the efficacy of our business model—such as it is—relies on a certain number of books purchased at this site, in addition to those sold by Amazon and the various resellers who carry Murania Press product. We make a higher margin of profit on orders placed here, and every dollar counts.

The takeover of our printer by Kindle Direct Publishing has been extremely trying (as it’s been for other small-press publishers serving our niche), but things seem to be improving slowly but surely.

Thanks for sticking with us during this difficult transition.


ART OF THE PULPS on sale!

Posted in Special Sale on December 5, 2018 @ 5:04 pm

Hey, gang, I’ve just discovered that Amazon is currently selling copies of The Art of the Pulps, which I co-edited with Doug Ellis and the late Bob Weinberg, for just $21.51 — about 40 percent of its original $49.99 suggested retail price. And if you’re an Amazon Prime member you can get it in two days with free shipping. This is a wholesale price, and was roughly what Doug and I paid for extra copies we purchased upon the book’s publication. I don’t think brand-new copies will ever sell any cheaper, so if you’re looking to buy a Christmas present for yourself and don’t already have AotP, now’s the time. I just bought a couple more copies for my own files!


Coming Soon: SATAN LIVES FOR MY LOVE!

Posted in Murania Press,Upcoming Books on November 29, 2018 @ 11:36 pm

A few particularly lurid magazines hold special places in the brief but storied history of the “weird menace” pulps: those published during the late 1930s by Martin Goodman, whose holdings would soon include the four-colored ancestors of the Marvel Comics empire. Among Goodman’s “Red Circle” group were Mystery Tales, Uncanny Tales, Marvel Tales, and Real Mystery—pulps that reached new heights (or, rather, plumbed new depths) of depravity with their blood-curdling, stomach-churning narratives built around sex and sadism.

Next month Murania Press will release Satan Lives for My Love!, an anthology of salacious, spine-chilling stories culled from the notorious Red Circle horror pulps. Outrageously outré for those late Depression years, these paraphilia-crammed yarns still, some 80 years later, retain their ability to shock even the most jaded readers. The adjectival phrase “envelope-pushing” easily could have been coined to describe the terrorific tales that spilled from the woodpulp pages of these periodicals like entrails from the bellies of their disemboweled victims.

Subscribing to the dictum “sex sells,” Red Circle’s editorial director Robert O. Erisman encouraged his contributors to wallow in licentiousness. This preoccupation with thinly veiled carnality was manifest not only in the company’s weird-menace titles but in its detective pulps and even in Marvel Science Stories, its first science-fiction magazine. Playing up sexual content was a way of distinguishing the line, which attracted second-rare fare because Goodman rarely paid more than a half-cent per word.

Mystery Tales, the first Red Circle weird-menace pulp, started off fairly tame. Like others of its type, the magazine initially published stories in which the threat of sexual violence was always present but rarely carried through. Presumably with Goodman’s knowledge and blessing, Erisman decided to increase its sleaze quotient. Completely throwing off the shackles of good taste, he instructed writers to devote considerable wordage to graphic depictions of torture, almost exclusively inflicted on women. Previously the protagonist’s wife or sweetheart always escaped physical punishment, if only at the last possible second. But by late 1939 all bets were off, and it was not uncommon for female leads to undergo floggings and worse, although the most gruesome fates were reserved for secondary characters.

Red Circle writers trafficked in sexual perversion to a startling degree. The pages of Mystery Tales, Uncanny Tales, and the others teemed with examples of sadism, masochism, necrophilia, and even hints of bestiality. Rapes were never explicitly described, but one needn’t read much between the lines to know it was happening. Young women always made the most alluring victims, and under Erisman their ages dropped precipitously. Sixteen-year-old heroines were not uncommon.

Most yarns were supplied by a small group of contributors—Bruno Fischer, Don Graham, Ray Cummings, Mary Dale Buckner, Arthur J. Burks, Allan K. Echols, and Robert Leslie Bellem—occasionally writing under their own names but also using a battery of house names and pseudonyms.

Satan Lives for My Love! collects the (curdled) cream of this crop: tales skimmed from all four titles, representing the mainstays named above. The 100,000-word collection includes Ed Hulse’s introductory essay “Unholy Jitters: Sex & Sadism in Red Circle’s Horror Pulps,” originally written for Blood ‘n’ Thunder #2 and reprinted several times by popular demand, most recently in The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Sampler. The book’s cover sports a J. W. Scott painting originally used on the July 1939 issue of Mystery Tales.

As high-grade copies of Red Circle horror pulps typically sell to collectors for hundreds of dollars each, this jumbo-sized book’s $25.00 price tag makes it a bargain. If you’ve got a strong heart and a stronger stomach, by all means try Satan Lives for My Love! We guarantee you’ll find it surprising, at the very least.

 

 


Holiday-Season Sale Begins Today!

Posted in Murania Press,Special Sale on November 23, 2018 @ 6:18 pm

The biggest, longest sale in Murania Press history begins today, November 23.

Until New Year’s Eve most of our books will be available at a discount of not 20, not 25, but 30 percent off cover price. For obvious reasons we’re excluding our most recent releases, Behind the MaskThose Sexy Serial Queens, and the newly revised Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction. And we’re holding the discount to 20 percent on Flickering Shadows.

If you plan on purchasing our books as Christmas presents and want to receive them before December 24, we strongly advise you to buy sooner rather than later, as increased seasonal demand doubtless will add to the delays our printer is already experiencing. At present it’s taking two weeks for them to print and ship books for us. Most packages are sent from their South Carolina plant via UPS Ground, so customers on the West Coast should add another week for delivery. We regret the long lead time in fulfilling orders, but as stated in a previous post, we’re at the printer’s mercy. Hopefully the steep discount we’re offering will compensate for the lengthier-than-usual wait.

We can offer, on a limited basis, immediate shipping of a few titles on which we have extra copies in stock. These include Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents, Volume One: Pride of the Pulps; Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents, Volume Three: Fighting Crime One Dime at a Time; The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Sampler, and Flickering Shadows. Likewise, we have a few extra copies of several reprinted novels: Barehanded Castaways, The Perils of Pauline, Pirates of the Pines, The Purple Eye, and The Wilderness Trail. Please be advised, however, that our copies in hand are limited.

As always, our sale prices include shipping to the domestic United States. Buyers from Alaska, Hawaii, and other countries must inquire for shipping rates before they make a purchase.

 

 


An Important Announcement for Murania Press Customers

Posted in Murania Press on November 9, 2018 @ 4:17 pm

As we write these words, Murania Press has arrived at a turning point in its 11-year history.

Those of you who’ve been loyal customers since we published The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Collecting Pulps in 2007 know that we’ve subscribed to the POD (Print On Demand) model of small-press publishing, which obviates the necessity of maintaining large inventories and printing books in quantities of 500 or 1000 copies to get a feasible unit cost.  We began with a printing company then called Lightning Source but in 2009 transferred our allegiance to an outfit named CreateSpace, which offered cheaper unit costs and had the added benefit of being allied with Amazon.

That year we brought Blood ‘n’ Thunder to CreateSpace as well, and since then every Murania Press publication has been printed by them. Our books and magazines, with rare exceptions, were produced at and shipped from their South Carolina plants in Charleston and Columbia. While there have always been delays in processing large orders (such as our shipments to wholesale customers), for the most part we were able to fulfill single-copy orders expeditiously.

Last year we began noticing delays in single-copy shipments, and this year the situation has gotten steadily worse. It’s currently taking CreateSpace an average of ten business days to print and ship one book. We’ve complained repeatedly but to no avail. Things took a turn for the worse following September’s Hurricane Florence, which pounded the Carolinas and flooded the areas where CreateSpace’s plants were located.

The rollouts of our two most recent publications, Behind the Mask and Those Sexy Serial Queens, have been close to disastrous as a result of CreateSpace’s snail-like service. We deserve some of the blame for delays in early shipments of Mask, which had to be recalled to address a serious copyright-page omission regarding current ownership of The Lone Ranger. But even after processing the corrected files we sent, CreateSpace dragged its feet on fulfilling the initial batch of orders, resulting in month-long waits for customers.

Being now owned by Amazon (which is in the process of folding it into Kindle), CreateSpace has naturally been more prompt fulfilling orders for our books placed with Amazon. Of late there have been whispers among small-press publishers that this is a deliberate strategy to drive more business to that corporate behemoth at the expense of marginal operators like us. Apparently Jeff Bezos and his underlings don’t have enough money already.

We are keenly aware of dissatisfaction among those who purchase Murania Press books via our website. All year long we’ve fielded your e-mails. Most people have been understanding, some have not. We’re acutely aware Amazon has made rapid shipping so easy, and for no extra cost to Prime members, that customers don’t want to wait two weeks for a book from us when they can get it from Amazon in two or three days.

The problem is that we can’t survive on Amazon royalties, which return to publishers significantly less money than they can make by selling their wares directly via website. That’s why, even though fully aware of the inconvenience involved, we’re asking you to keep purchasing Murania Press products directly from us — even though you’ll have to wait longer to receive them.

We’ve established a reputation for non-fiction books that are well researched, well written, and well edited. We provide the handsomest editorial packages our limited budgets will allow. But it requires enormous investments of time and effort to turn out products of the quality we maintain, and unless we can meet a certain profit threshold we won’t be able to continue.

In recognition of the current difficulties, we’re taking steps to guarantee better service during the upcoming Christmas shopping season. Even though it runs contrary to the POD model, which was supposed to free us from the necessity of fronting money for inventory, we’re already ordering quantities of the books on which we intend to run holiday-season sales. Come early December we’ll have them on hand and will ship directly to you without relying on CreateSpace for short-order fulfillment. Obviously, if we run out of stock early on certain items, we’ll have to reorder and keep our fingers crossed for timely shipments from the plant.

What happens in the future? Well, we’re already looking for viable alternatives to CreateSpace. Unfortunately, the most likely is also vastly more expensive: our unit costs would practically double, forcing us to raise prices or accept greatly reduced profit margins. So we’re still looking.

During this difficult period we’re asking that you stick with us, even if it means longer wait times. Otherwise we’ll have to close down — and we don’t want to do that.

Watch this space for future announcements about future developments at Murania Press.


Collectibles Update

Posted in Collectibles For Sale on October 12, 2018 @ 4:41 pm

Two weeks ago we added approximately 30 new items to our Collectibles for Sale section but forgot to post anything here about the update. Well, consider yourselves informed. A number of choice items have been sold but many remain. And we dropped prices on a few that have been lingering in that space for some time now.

Check it out; there are interesting pieces available at excellent prices. And remember, shipping to the continental United States is included in each item.


October Overstock Sale

Posted in Murania Press,Special Sale on @ 4:33 pm

We’re currently overstocked on several Murania Press titles, left over from our exhibits at recent hobbyist confabs. Therefore, we’re offering them at 20 percent off list price as long as supplies last, which we don’t believe will be very long.

The books on sale include Pride of the Pulps (Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents, #1), Fighting Crime One Dime at a Time (Blood ‘n’ Thunder Presents, #3), Flickering Shadows, and The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Sampler.

The sale price has already been attached to each book’s page here on the site. Again, these are copies that are already on hand and available for immediate shipping.

 

 


2018 Labor Day Weekend Sale

Posted in Murania Press,Special Sale on August 31, 2018 @ 12:41 am

Beginning Friday at 12:01 a.m. and continuing through Monday at 11:59 p.m., all Murania Press books are on sale. Prices have been marked down between 20 and 25 percent, and as always shipping is included for domestic U.S. customers.

What’s different about this sale is that it will be the last one for certain titles in our catalog. I’ve recently been informed by our printer that costs are going up for the first time in nine years. Rather than pay more for books that are marginal sellers I will retire them from the line. So this will be your last opportunity to get some of these books.


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