Originally, we were only going to publish Joyland in paperback.
Steve grew up buying paperbacks for fifty cents from the wire spinner racks at his local drugstore in Lisbon Falls, Maine, the sort with sexy cover paintings and lurid cover copy and breathless storytelling that kept you glued to the page well past your bedtime. I did, too, though in my case it was in New York City rather than Lisbon Falls, and by the time I came around the wire spinner racks had vanished and the era that produced them was gone, too. When I found these paperbacks it was at flea markets and library sales, at used book stores and on my father’s bookshelves. (My grandmother’s too – this proper old lady had been a big fan of Mickey Spillane back in the day.) Like Steve, I fell in love with them, discovered they scratched a powerful itch I hadn’t even known I had. And when, years later, I found myself reminiscing about them with a friend over drinks, we decided the world needed more books like that, damn it. That’s how Hard Case Crime was born.
The idea from the start was to replicate a pleasure from the past – not just the type of stories told in those old books but the physical artifact itself. Painted covers, and not digitally painted ones either. (One of our painters offered to digitally clean up some schmutz on his canvas and I told him I’d break both his arms if he did.) Old typefaces that existed in the hot-metal-type days. Graphic design that isn’t arch or ironic or campy but rather duplicates in a proper and workmanlike fashion what books looked like back in the day. Our goal was to give the impression that Hard Case Crime had started publishing sometime around 1945 and just somehow never stopped. We didn’t want to look old-fashioned — we wanted to look old. And if no one but us gave a damn about books like that, well, fine. We’d publish half a dozen of the things, sell no copies, and hang up our hats proud of a job well done.