This is a profile of a publisher that does not block text-to-speech for the Kindle at time of writing. I want to recognize these publishers, and give you a bit of background on them.
Pocket was crucial in US publishing history. The idea of cheap paper editions had caught on in Europe, but it wasn’t until that magical year of 1939 that Pocket Books, under the direction of Robert de Graff, popularized the format in the United States.
For twenty-five cents (roughly the equivalent of four dollars in 2009), you could get a classic like Shakespeare (five tragedies in one volume) or Wuthering Heights (a bestseller that year), or a genre book, like the ghost comedy Topper or the fantasy/adventure novel, Lost Horizon.
This is somewhat of a parallel for me to what is happening with e-books. We are getting cheaper editions, and they are heavy on classics and genre works. However, we also are getting the mainstream, and that’s nice.
Over the years, the Pocket kangaroo (named Gertude) has had a lot of books with cult followings, like the Perry Mason books and the Star Trek books.
They also had the important strategy of moving book sales out of only bookstores into other places, like drugstores and variety stores. You might not be able to buy your books in a grocery store if it wasn’t for Pocket.
Pocket is (since 1966) part of Simon & Schuster, which in turn is part of the New York based CBS Corporation.
Pocket itself includes:
- Downtown Press
- MTV Books
- Paraview (uses Pocket phone number)
- Star Trek (which may say Pocket)
- Threshold Editions
- WWE (used Pocket phone number)
Simon & Schuster also distributes Baen Books (science fiction and fantasy), Games Workshop Group (best known for the Warhammer games), Harlequin (romances), Merck (best known for the Merck Manual medical reference books), and the World Almanac.
Other Simon and Schuster imprints include the Free Press, Scribner, and Simon and Schuster.
Carolyn Reidy is President and CEO of Simon and Schuster. She took over the company in January of 2008. Her experience in publishing goes back to 1976, and she has also worked for Random House and William Morrow.
Louise Burke in in charge of Pocket Books.
Company contact information
Toll free Customer Service phone number: 1-800-223-2336
Customer Service e-mail: Consumer.CustomerService@simonandschuster.com
New York offices:
Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
In the e-book world
Pocket has embraced e-books, which isn’t too surprising given their innovative approach to publishing in the past. According to their website, they actually have more e-books available than they do new mass market paperbacks or trade paperbacks (although the combination of trade and mass market would be larger). It certainly says something that e-books is the format with the largest number of titles.
Amazon has 1,195 e-books by Pocket as I write this. It’s important to realize that I am only talking about books with the Pocket name, not other imprints (like Baen, which they distribute, and Juno).
Some books appear in more than one category, but 939 of them appear under fiction (79%).
The most popular Kindle book they have right now is Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin. It’s #488 (again, as I write this) out of 396,117…that’s pretty good).
While that book comes from a particular viewpoint, it’s not the type case…they have a lot of different things.
For example, they have several Star Trek novels…nowhere near the 1201 they have in the Amazon store altogether!
Generally, they seem to be releasing Pocket branded e-books a day after the mass market paperback, although I didn’t look at a big sample.
Pocket e-books in the Kindle store
Here is a sampling of their books in the Kindle store. You can also get Pocket e-books from other sources.
by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and Michael Jan Friedman
If you watch the Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters show, you’ll know Jason and Grant…plumbers by day, proplamologists by night.
by Ann Rule
This is the fourteenth book in the true crime series from Rule, who had a huge hit with her book on Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me.
by Emily Bronte
This classic was one of their first paperbacks…they still do quite a few classics in e-book.
by Janet Chapman
The latest in a romance series.
by Victoria Gotti
A tell-all biography by a member of the infamous family.
by Alan Dean Foster
Pocket has been the Star Trek publisher for decades, and they continue with this novelization from science fiction novelist Foster (who has also written quite a few other tie-ins)
by Christie Golden
This is the fourth in a series of World of Warcraft books…the company does have a gaming connection.
by Stephen King
Here’s a nice collection of King short stories, from a company that doesn’t block text-to-speech access.
by Suzanna Clarke
Contemporary first person non-fiction, bringing a glimpse of what it is like to move into another culture.
by M.C. King
Pop culture…I’m guessing the author and I might have different highlights for this decade, but this companion to the E! miniseries is likely to spark a few personal memories for you.
by Sanjay Gupta, Tarun Kumah Wahi, Manish Gupta, Lalit Sharma (illustrator)
A graphic novel by the CNN commentator/neurosurgeon/Surgeon General candidate…in Hindi? I think this is the same person. I tried a sample on my K2: it actually looked pretty good! I could even see using this to show people the graphics capability of the Kindle. As to the Hindi: since it is part of the picture, it reproduces…the Kindle wouldn’t be able to do it if it need the character set, currently.
Well, that’s a pretty eclectic bunch! If you want to support company’s that don’t block to text-to-speech, or even if that isn’t an issue for you, you’ll probably be able to find a Pocket Book to give you a great reading experience on your Kindle.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.