A Conversation with Ray Russell of Tartarus Press
May 24, 2013 | 2:09 pm
Tartarus Press is “a small, British independent press founded in 1990. We specialise in collectable hardback limited editions of literary supernatural/strange/horror fiction, and we also publish paperbacks and ebooks. We have been the recipient of three World Fantasy Awards, and in 2010 received a Stoker from the Horror Writers Association.”
TeleRead recently spoke to Tartarus co-editor and co-publisher Ray Russell about the press’s e-publishing program, and how it fits with the rest of its business.
TeleRead: You sell your e-books off your own site, in EPUB and Kindle/Mobi format, without DRM. What decided you on that policy?
Ray Russell: Tartarus has always been about publishing good old-fashioned books in boards, choosing fonts and layout, printing lithographically on quality paper, and offering dustjackets, ribbons, head and tailbands, etc. We have created a number of e-books because customers have asked for them, and they provide a useful additional income. We have used available software to create them as easily and quickly as possible.
TeleRead: Not all of your list is available as e-books. What decides which are, and will the rest go digital at some point?
Ray Russell: We have made available as e-books all of those over which we have the rights. A large number of our books are in copyright, and e-book rights have either been too expensive, or are not available. For example, we would love to make our Robert Aickman volumes available as e-books, but the rights are with Faber & Faber.
TeleRead: Your e-books are distinctly high quality, many with artwork. How hard is it for a small press to produce to that standard, and how do you do it?
Ray Russell: We try to make them the best product possible, with our limited skills. We add rtf files to Calibre software to create EPUB files, and edit the result in Sigil. Back in Calibre, we then convert them again to Mobi files for Kindle. The software is very annoying, making a best guess most of the time, and the HTML requires a lot of tweaking, especially with pictures. It does seem to be a lot of effort to create a digital file, but readers appreciate the effort.
TeleRead: Do different considerations apply for smaller and niche presses doing e-books, and what are they?
Ray Russell: I don’t think that there are many differences between the considerations of large or small presses. The main problem a small press like Tartarus has is that we only create e-books when physical books are published, every six weeks or so, and that is enough to forget how to use the ebook software!