Yesterday, we first heard of threats from some members of the so-called ‘Bring Back Legends’ movement to spoil The Force Awakens on public Facebook pages. Apparently some of them made good on their threats, because the folks at Del Rey have deactivated their Star Wars Books page. They explain their decision – no, it’s not gone for good – on their Tumblr:
We don’t want to give people who wish to spoil the movie for others a platform to do that and we are under no obligation to do so.
The ‘Bring Back Legends’ (or ‘Give Us Legends’) movement is a rather scattered gathering of fans of older Star Wars novels and comics – almost everything published before September 2014, including several decades of storylines that continue past Return of the Jedi. Last year, Lucasfilm announced that the older fiction would stay in print as ‘Legends’ – but as an alternate universe that doesn’t count towards the new films. Most Bring Back Legends fans want the older storylines to be continued, but there is a rather wide spectrum of opinions and attitudes on how and why.
My policy has been – and remains – to not cover them, for the most part. Most of them seem rather harmless – bitter, sometimes annoying, but harmless. But this is not the first incident where they’ve crossed a very distinct line, and that I will not ignore.
This is not going to change anyone’s minds about Legends, and spoiling people for a hotly-anticipated movie may be skeevy, but this is not a matter of life and death. Still, no one should have to invoke the nuclear option because of what is and isn’t canon in tie-in fiction.
The Wall Street Journal writes about how Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens novelization won’t be available in hardcover until January – something we’ve known since April. (The ebook will be out on December 18, along with the movie.) It was, not surprisingly, due to a request from Lucasfilm:
David Moench, the Del Rey spokesman, said the publisher would have preferred to put out the hardcover edition out on the day the movie opens in order to capture more sales.
“We would love to release both formats of the novelization simultaneously and not miss the holidays,” he said, “but we recognize the importance of protecting the story for the fans.”
Apparently, fans still prefer the physical books:
“It’s a collector’s mentality,” said Scott Shannon, Del Rey’s publisher. The “Star Wars” titles the publisher has issued have “way over-indexed” in terms of physical book sales to digital copies, said Mr. Shannon.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of information: Del Rey has sold more than 1.2 million Star Wars books in the past twelve months. (Only Aftermath and Lords of the Sith get namechecked.) That number extends to 70 million over the life of the license (including Bantam). It’s not clear if that number goes back to 1977 or 1991, but I suspect ’77. It would be interesting to see the numbers for at least the previous novelizations, but alas.
Fun fact: Although many Star Wars books have made it onto the New York Times’ Best Seller list, only four have made it to #1: The Return of the Jedi Storybook by Joan D. Vinge, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, The Phantom Menace novelization by Terry Brooks and (go figure) The Force Unleashed novelization by Sean Williams.
We learned today that Del Rey will be setting up in Booth 1211 for Celebration… And they have lots of treats. First and foremost, there’s a 2015 Book Sampler with a cover by Phil Noto. The cover clearly teases Lords of the Sith and Dark Disciple… But what else could be in it? Dare we hope for a peek at Aftermath? Chuck Wendig just finished the first draft the other day, but stranger things have happened… And note how the poster image carefully covers big chunks of the timeline… Battlefront? A novelization, even? (And for those not attending, the last sampler was put online for free, so chances are that’ll happen again.)
There are some nifty book cover pins, too. (Don’t forget Saturday is Aaron Allston Tribute Day!) There’s also a schedule of signings. Authors listed include John Jackson Miller, Christie Golden, James Luceno, Drew Karpyshyn, Alan Dean Foster, James Kahn and Michael Kogge.
Del Rey will also be handing out some Marvel stuff… Does Marvel not have a booth of their own? Curious.
Remember way back in 2009, when LucasBooks announced that the Fate of the Jedi paperbacks reprints would be in the slightly taller premium paperback format – and then changed their minds? Well, it seems like it’s just as well, because now it gives Del Rey a quick, easy way to make the canon novels stand out among the piles of Legends when they come out in paperback. The A New Dawn paperback, due out late next month, will be the first, but Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi have all been listed with the new format.
The premium paperback issue was rather controversial back in the day, but it seems that EU fans have bigger fish to fry these days. Below, a picture I took in 2009 to show the differences between trade paperback (The Clone Wars: Wild Space,) premium paperback (Stephen King’s Just After Sunset) and mass market paperback (Dark Force Rising.)