Monday, February 06, 2006

The New Era of Chess Publishing

I enjoy receiving the Chessville Weekly by email, and the most recent issue has an excellent and thorough column by Rick Kennedy reviewing two books by non-grandmasters that sound intriguing--one of them not to buy at the price asked, perhaps, but to contemplate. They exemplify a trend that we'll be seeing much more of in many fields:

You’ve played chess for years, you’ve gotten pretty good at it and you’d like to think that you have something to say to others on the subject. What do you do? Nowadays, with word processing and chess software available to anyone, with print-on-demand publishing houses readily accessible, and with the Internet awaiting your marketing efforts – you write a chess book!

Chess is a Struggle by Neil Sullivan, a FIDE 2100-range player, sounds like a book well worth a look. I hope that the new world of publishing brings out a lot more experts and masters with interesting games and thoughts to share. The days when you had to be an IM to get a look-in at a chance to publish a chess book are over!

Unorthodox Chess: Unconventional Opening Strategy for the Modern Chess Enthusiast by the pseudonymous 'Some Loser' has it's own website, and an unusual approach, to say the least:

When news about the publication of Unorthodox Chess appeared at such sites as, there were people who rushed to the author’s website and quickly decided it was so over-the-top, it had to be a hoax. How’s this for an introduction:

It's called Unorthodox Chess: Unconventional Opening Strategy for the Modern Chess Enthusiast and it's the best thing that happened to chess since the invention of the black square! It will change your game! It will change your life! It will change your future, change your past, change your entire gaming mindset so thoroughly that all your days until now will be seen as merely prelude to your moment of near-divine illumination, clouded only slightly by occasional memories of how you had once wasted so many previous years in trudging the dusty corridors of the discredited notions of a moss-backed professional establishment whose sole purpose was to deny you the intellectual riches contained in this fantastic new tome!!


Rick Kennedy makes the effort to thoroughly review this "fantastic new tome" and it sounds interesting, if over-the-top, until the reviewer reveals that, "The 'indisputable test' of Unorthodox Chess is if the one hundred plus samoleons it is going to set you back, plus the time spent thoroughly studying it..."

Yikes! Vanity publishing just isn't what it used to be. At any rate, I wanted to point out a well-done review column, and the new trends in publishing. In fact, I'm working on my first book right now, to be called The Mistakes Were There, Waiting to be Made--and I Made Them!

I'm thinking the $7.99 price point, rather the one hundred plus samoleons approach.


Anonymous said...

Self-publishing is not just for the amateur players, but also for the amateur writers. I plan, in the vein of Geuzendam's new book, THE DAY KASPAROV QUIT, to publish my own collection of chess interviews and writing (hopefully with a few less punctuation errors). God luck with your blog, Robert!

Howard Goldowsky

Anonymous said...

Robert, I have reason to predict that will publish a review of my new book "Play Stronger Chess by Examining Chess960" sometime in 2006.

The problem we independent or self-publishers have is we do not work together. We are fragmented. Thus we lack the clout that comes with quantity and numbers.

Images of our book covers do not appear in the sales catalog fliers printed in Chess Life, but they could if we cooperated together. Ironically that would mean expanding my one man publishing company, Castle Long Publications, into a multi-author shop, making it more similar to the system of publishers that already causes the problem of exclusion.

Ah, but there is one major difference that works to our advantage. For us self-publishers, money is not the driving factor. What we want is our titles to be available and known about. We are happy enough if the small niche of chess players who would like to purchase our books can be made aware they exist.

That should mean a quality bar must be reached to earn entry into the cooperative for a title. But financial gain need not be a consideration. POD (Print On Demand) techniques eliminate financial risks.

The better self-published chess books would fit in quite well with the typical fair published in mass by Everyman and Gambit. Those houses tend to homogenize the chess literature of our era. We self-publishers should cooperate with each other.

Thank you.
Gene Milener

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