Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 14th 2015 Contents A31
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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It s hard to believe, but it s been
just over 40 years now.
Sometime around 1974, I sat on a
culvert at Trinity College in Moka
waiting for the school bus to arrive
and opened my school bag to turn
the first page of a weathered copy of
a new action hero series.
The Destroyer was written by
Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy
in the midst of a new surge of manly
man paperbacks, led by Don Pendle-
ton s The Executioner series.
But where most of these books
were dour, vengeance-filled outings
clotted with spilled blood and largely
illuminated by explosive gunfire dis-
charged by guns described with
almost pornographic detail, The
Destroyer was something else entirely.
Its reluctant heroes didn t use guns,
their villains were colourful lampoons
of real world naughtiness and the
books were an undeniable page turner,
something that couldn t always be
said of their remorseless rivals on the
Last week I read Destroyer No 150,
written by Murphy who outlived Sapir
by a good three decades, continuing
the series with other officially uncred-
ited but widely acknowledged ghost
writers and writing partners.
The books have had their ups and
downs, and the 150th outing didn t
have the spark of the 20th or even
the 100th, but it was a serviceable
and entertaining read and it s the first
that I ve read as an electrons-only
Half of the back-catalog of the
series is now available for Amazon s
Kindle, and all of the more recent
instalments are as well.
Surprisingly, the medium has
sparked fresh development on the
series, with Murphy teaming with
Gerald Welch to create a new gen-
eration of Destroyers facing down
evil and rank stupidity with grace
and murderous martial arts skill.
This is an aspect of the eBook that
gets far less buzz than it should.
Publishing isn t really a business
of creating books, it s all about man-
aging inventory. In a perfect world,
you would publish 10,000 books,
reach 10,000 buyers and keep repeat-
ing the process until you saturated
But the printing process doesn t
contribute anything to that idyllic
dream. Getting a press started on a
printing project is a staggeringly
expensive proposition and buyers
come in surges.
In the reading community of T&T,
a good book with solid buzz is guar-
anteed sales of between 1,000 and
1,500 within a couple of months of
its release. After that, it crawls along,
with surges when anything from a
particularly good review or entirely
unforeseen circumstances make it
something that people want to have
a look at.
This is pretty much how the whole
publishing industry works globally.
While the numbers are larger in first
world markets, the cycle remains the
That s how last year s bestseller
ends up in the one dollar remainder
bin of the few remaining bookstores
left in the US. Digital distribution
flips that script, though not entirely
in favour of authors or publishers.
Getting an eBook system up and run-
ning can be a challenge. For older
books, the cost of digitising the book
will add to the cost, but a running
system prepares a new book or one
with a manuscript in electronic for-
mat for an embarrassingly small frac-
tion of the cost of traditional printing.
That math has led to new paths
I discovered Andy Weir s The Mar-
tian as an audiobook last year, and
by then, it was already in its third
edition and still to see print.
After Weir couldn t get a literary
agent interested in his work, he put
The Martian online as a serial, one
chapter at a time on his website.
Fans called for an eBook, so he
made a Kindle version available for
the minimum price Amazon allows,
US$0.99. After it hit the top of the
list of best-selling science fiction
titles there, Podium Publishing bought
it to create an audiobook. The book
was sold to Crown publishing for a
print edition soon after. The Martian,
starring Matt Damon, is scheduled
for release in October.
Not every eBook is destined to
become a major motion picture. The
Punisher, a rather pallid clone of The
Executioner series, has had three
movies while the original is almost
The Destroyer series has con-
tributed so much to the filmed and
televised action hero genre that it
remains an iffy proposition for cin-
ema. A 1985 film and later TV pilot
went nowhere, and another effort is
in current development.
But there are at least a hundred
local books that deserve to be intro-
duced to a new audience via digital
distribution. That s reader and devel-
opment potential that s still waiting
to be tapped.
The eBook archive
A new stash of Destroyers brightens my Kindle
bookshelf. PHOTO: MARK LYNDERSAY
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