In yesterday’s ‘The Great LBR 2011 Retrospective, Part 1’ I took a look at the ten best genre novels of the year. Today, it’s time to take a look at the best genre publisher or imprint for the year. I don’t want to take up too much of your time on this fine Christmas Eve, but before I get around to doing all the proclaiming winners and what not, I’d like to give a bit of an overview of the thought process I went through to select the winner. Then, we’ll see who won. Shall we begin?
First off, what defines - in this blogger’s opinion - the best publisher/imprint of the year? The answer, simply enough, is: the one who releases the largest amount of good books - or great books, of course. There are, however, a few complexities and limitations to this definition. In my mind, it isn’t just the numerical amount of good books released that counts, since this would unfairly advantage larger publishers. Sure, not all of the books they put out may be good, but it stands to reason that the more books you publish, the more likely I’ll find one I like.
That’s why there’s a consistency criteria. Not only must the publisher/imprint publish good books but do so consistently. That means if, despite however many good books they’ve released, the other half of their titles are try are mediocre, the publisher/imprint gets marked down.
Variety also, has it’s role to play. This one’s straightforward enough: does the publisher/imprint cover a wide variety of genres and sub-genres within the bounds of SFF? I have a tendency to read more fantasy than anything else, so clearly I might be slightly biased towards a publisher which releases more of that, but I’ve tried to look at the overall variety of the publisher, also counting those titles I’ve not read.
With those three criteria in mind - quality, consistency, and variety - and reminding you once more that this post is the representation of my sole opinion, let’s get to the award....
LBR’s Best SFF Publisher or Imprint 2011
If you’re a reader of the blog, this shouldn’t really be a surprise to you. Already last year Pyr Books had tied with TOR UK for this same position. Also, throughout the year, in almost every review of their titles I’ve written you’ll have noticed some mention of how great Pyr is. Under the deft editorial management of Lou Anders, this imprint of Prometheus Books continued to grow on the genre scene this year, even expanding to include a new YA-oriented line of books. But more importantly, Pyr continued to do what we love it for; publishing consistently first-rate genre novels, adorned with gorgeous artwork from their Art team.
Pyr doesn’t necessarily publish the most thought-provoking novels or those with great literary ambitions - they publish the devilishly creative, offbeat, and fun ones. Their books are often pulpy, hilarious, colorful, and brimful with fantastical goodness. Pyr knows how to pick them, and we’re glad they do.
Last year’s prize was a tie, but since this year there is a single winner, I’ve decided to announce a runner-up.
Orbit, both in the US in the UK, impressed me greatly this year. It’s a big publisher, so it’s got a bit of the unfair advantage we talked about earlier, but that doesn’t really matter here. More than in 2010, I feel like Orbit have stepped up their game, bringing us a staggering amount of quality genre reads. Some of my personal highlights (by which I judge it) are Parker’s The Hammer, Correy’s Leviathan Wakes, Abraham’s The Dragon’s Path, Sullivan’s ‘Riyria Revelations’, and Canavan’s The Rogue, to name but a few. What kept it from the top spot are the misses its had. I sincerely hope, however, that it will keep this up in the new year.