Tuesday, April 11, 2006

In The Reticle: Meisha Merlin

Meisha Merlin Publishing is the absolute worst small press in publishing today.

Now I'm sure it's not their intent -- no one sets out to be the worst there is what they do. In fact, I think they had and still do have high aspirations. I've seen some of their Janny Wurts novels in Borders, and any small press breaking into the chain stores is a positive thing.

I just wish it were happening for a press that deserved it.

Meisha Merlin purchased the right to print George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series in the late 90's. (I'm not sure of the date, it's so far back in the mists of memory.) They announced that the series would be beautiful matching limited editions, crafted with acid-free paper and gilting, with satin bookmarks, in matching slip cases. The editions were to be sold for 250 dollars each -- hardly a drop in the bucket. Each customer had a right to expect a finely crafted book.

What we got was a decent book, but it was two years later than promised.

Ok, I can accept that. Shit happens. Do better next time.

The next volume was also two years later than promised. You don't read such expensive and collectible books, you place them on the shelf and wait patiently for the next volume. As soon as I placed A Clash of Kings on the shelf next to A Game of Thrones, I noticed that they did not match. A Game of Thrones was noticably taller and A Clash of Kings was vastly thicker, despite there being only 60-something pages difference in length. The slip cases were made of a different material. The font in the writing did not match.

I had spent 500 dollars on two books, and they did not even match.

So what next? I decided to look for other problems with this years-later-than-promised and unmatching tome. Upon looking at the signed limitation page, I noticed an editing slip-up that a drooling troglodyte would have caught while surfing for porn.

They never bothered to change the name of the book on the second volume.

If you'll notice in the picture, it says This edition of A Game of Thrones is limited to 500 copies.

This is not an edition of a Game of Thrones.

It is a 250 dollar copy of a Clash of Kings that was never glanced at by an editor.

Hell! They didn't even have to edit the actual text of the book -- the limitation page and the art are the only new additions.

Thankfully Subterranean Press has swooped in and saved all the GRRM collectors of the world from having to suffer through another Meisha Merlin travesty. They purchased the rights to the series from Meisha Merlin.

I don't know if George had anything to do with change, but honestly I could not be happier. Subterranean Press is the polar opposite of Meisha Merlin; they offer some of the finest books being made anywhere today, and they practice remarkable attention to detail.

So that's it, of course. I'd never be stupid enough to buy from such an incompetent publisher again, right?

You'd think so.

Then came the complete works of Robert A. Heinlein: The Virginia Edition from Meisha Merlin. I had mentioned it offhand to my wife, being a big Heinlein fan and lamenting the identity of the publisher, and sometime last year (2005) she went and subscribed to it for me as a Christmas gift. the first volume was to be out in plenty of time to have under the tree, they told her.

As I write this, it is April 11th, 2006, and the first volume has not yet arrived.

To add insult to injury, in December Meisha Merlin double charged my wife's debit card for mythical books that have not yet arrived. So during the holiday season, we had 300 dollars less than we had figured on. We made it through, but that is hardly the point.

Their solution to their unauthorized theft from my wife's card? "We'll credit it to next month. You won't have to make a payment until February."

Oh. Well. That makes everything better.

Comments on "In The Reticle: Meisha Merlin"


Blogger William Lexner said ... (5:51 PM) : 

Though the website insists that the new release date for the Virginia Edition is April 2006, I sit here and type this on May 31st, first volume nowhere to be found.


Blogger William Lexner said ... (9:16 PM) : 

I have since received a full refund from Meisha Merlin after numerous demands. It was not smooth sailing, however, the manager was quite rude throughout the entire ordeal.

However, the moral of the story is that refunds are available if you persist long enough, despite what is written on their site. (Hell, they don't abide by what they say, why should you?)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:08 PM) : 

This is quite a fascinating story. I did look at the Heinlein series and drool a bit but money was tight when I saw it and I had to pass. I was somewhat sceptical about MM's ability to get out such a huge series of 46 books like that when they couldn't get out a small handleful of GRRM titles. This is a company which from what I can see has a negligible direct mail order business from their web site and they're going to sell 5000 direct subscriptions for the Heinlein series???? Now I know Heinlein is always popular and hot, but Meisha Merlin is not. There's so many other presses that I would rather see doing this.

Anyway, in the end I decided to simply wait and if the project does get off the ground I can always buy the final set on eBay and the like 5 years now (and if I like the quality of the books). With a print run of 5000 there should be no shortage of copies/sets coming into the secondary market down the road (people need money, people die) and in the meantime I don't have to agonize over MM holding my money and wondering when the books are going to appear and if they're all going to appear or if MM's going to bail out part way through like they did on the GRRM books.

I see on their web site the promised start date is now June.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:49 PM) : 

Ok, it's now July. Website stll says "June." Does anyone know if they've started shipping?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:13 AM) : 

Still looking for A Game of Thrones (Meisha Merlin). Does anyone know where I can find a copy?



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:14 AM) : 

The first Virginia Edition book, I Will Fear No Evil, did ship in mid-July. The second book, Time Enough for Love, is supposed to be on its way right now (9/1/06). With any luck Meisha Merlin will actually update its site to show what these books look like, inside and out, including the Donato slipcase-edge artwork, for curious onlookers as well as potential customers. (Not the same "Anonymous" as above)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:27 PM) : 

It seems there is another side to the story on Meisha Merlin:


Maybe their good hearted boobs.


Blogger William Lexner said ... (7:42 PM) : 


They gave away a free book to someone who is spending thousands of dollars on the much delayed Virginia edition.

Plaster Saints.


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Blogger Ed S. said ... (2:03 PM) : 

Well, Meisha Merlin has just announced that they're shutting down. Apparently the Heinlein edition will continue to be published with details to follow. What a fiasco.


Blogger Anastasia said ... (9:45 PM) : 

Now, to get some other small press to pick up all the books that MM was/would have been publishing! I personally really like the tradebacks (the cheap ones match, what can I say...), got 9 on my shelf, and would have much more if they stayed in business. They've resurrected a lot of great out-of-print books, and I miss them sorely.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:02 AM) : 


I'm curious what number/letter of AGoT and ACoK you have? The folks over on westeros.org have been putting together a list of who owns what to help people with fragmented sets of these limited edition books. I'm not sure if you have continued on with buying the limited ASoS and AFfC but if not I'm sure the person who now owns your number/letter would be interested in buying your copies to complete their set.


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