Black Library is a Games Workshop Limited (GW) company. It publishes exclusively fiction set in and about the fictional universes of GW’s famous tabletop miniatures games: Warhammer Fantasy and its sci-fi cousin Warhammer 40,000. These miniature games are very popular among teenagers and young adults, especially in the UK and US.
Despite its narrow focus, Black Library has grown from humble beginnings in 1997 into a prolific publisher. As of 2013, it publishes between 5 and 10 new, original novels, short story anthologies or radio plays every month. His catalog includes many successful novels, many of which topped the New York Times bestseller lists for weeks.
With the success of the publishing house, its publication catalog became more and more extensive. Below is a guide to the main formats offered by Black Library. It also offers a brief discussion of some of the alternative formats, including the Horus Heresy radio plays and upcoming graphic novels.
In summary, all of the newer formats strongly indicate an explicit and determined effort by Black Library to push their products into a higher premium segment.
1. The mass paperback format
Without a doubt, Black Library built its success on inexpensive paperback sized pulp novels. Since the company’s inception 15 years ago, these well-reviewed $10 tomes, detailing the exploits of medieval knights or the trials of Space Marines from the far future, have become a ubiquitous mainstay among fans of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes .
There are literally several hundred full-fledged novels available in this format, as well as a wide selection of short story anthologies. Today the public image of the Black Library is closely linked to these books.
2. The hardcover novellas
Black Library recently expanded its catalog with a selection of shorter novellas in a premium hardcover format. Typically these stories are 120 to 130 pages long and are bound in a glossy hardcover format with no dust jacket. Occasionally they come with interior art or a map in the middle of the book.
Originally, this smaller and relatively more expensive format was used to publish stories that tie directly into specific product releases, such as the Dark Vengeance Novella, which was released alongside the miniatures set of the same name. This distinguishes the novella from the regular novels, which tie into the fictional setting on a broader level, but not any specific product released for the game.
The format has since been used more liberally.
3. The Black Library Premium Hardcover
A major move by Black Library to upgrade their products (and corporate image) from budget pulp novels to a more upscale publishing venture was the introduction of premium or collector’s hardcover versions of their novels in mid-2012.
These novels are similar to hardcover books published by more established fiction publishers. They are larger in length and width than both the softcover and novella releases, bound in a hard cardboard cover, and packaged in a dust jacket bearing the cover art.
These new collectible hardcover novels were first introduced in Black Library’s best-selling New York Times bestselling novel series, Horus Heresy. Available since 2006, this multi-author exploration of the fictional story of Games Workshop’s dystopian sci-fi gaming universe.
In 2012 Black Library began re-issuing older titles in the Horus Heresy series for Warhammer 40,000, such as the James Swallow Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, in this premium format. Also, all new novels in this series are now published first in premium format, with the softcover version usually being delayed by several months.
It should be noted that unlike their softcover counterparts, these premium hardcovers are not available through retailers or e-commerce sites like Amazon.
Overall, the diversity of Black Library’s new products tells the story of a new focus in branding, marketing and selling the fictional works that make up the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes as premium products.
Since the “budget formats” that were and are the basis of their success remain in print and production, this trend only brings variety for the customer. And judging by the apparent success of the new formats, many of them are longing for their Warhammer and Warhammer 40K fiction in a premium format.
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