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E-Reads got involved with John Norman and The Chronicles of Counter-Earth around 2000, when Richard Curtis started E-Reads, an "online publisher dedicated to bringing you the quality books you remember by authors you know and love." While New World Publishers focussed on paperback reprints of the first part of the series, E-Reads released the first ten eBook volumes in December 2000, and continued with the next six volumes in 2001. After the demise of New World Publishers in May, 2004, E-Reads begon editing and correcting the revised texts of the first 25 volumes of the Gor Series, scheduling a republication of the entire series in both paperback and ebook in 2006, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the first book of the series, Tarnsman of Gor, which was published in December, 1966. Due to various circumstances (perhaps, most importantly, Ballantines error with the Tenth Printing of Tarnsman of Gor, when the copyright year was changed from 1966 to 1967), the E-Reads Paperback edition of the first 26 volumes of the Gor series was published in June, 2007.
On Monday, October 8, 2007, E-Reads announced the new series by asking "Are John Norman's Gors *Boy-Books*?"
I'm proud to say that all of the original novels in John Norman's Gorean saga are together for the first time in decades, plus seven he has written since E-Reads commenced its reissue program. The journey of the series from Blockbuster to Can't Give Them Away and back to Blockbuster (they are among E-Reads' biggest sellers) is a saga in itself and sheds some interesting sociological light on the publishing industry.
The first novel, Tarnsman of Gor, was released by Ballantine in 1966, and over the next fifteen years or so another 24 were published by Ballantine and then DAW. The books were enormously popular and sales were tremendous -- until, one day it all ground to a halt, mysteriously, like that scene at the end of War of the Worlds where a seemingly invincible alien catches cold and drops dead. What happened? Tastes in reading habits change but usually they evolve rather than fall off a cliff as Gor did.
The answer may lie not in what readers like to read but what editors like to edit. The Gorean Saga's epic sales were fueled by the kind of red-blooded male readers that consumed cowboy books, Executioner and Destroyer action-adventure, Spillane-type thrillers and space operas by the carton. And many of the editors who acquired them were red-blooded males themselves (with notable exceptions like Judy-Lynn Del Rey, the diminutive titan who gave her name to Random House's science fiction line).
Then came the Feminist movement, and with it a revolution in editorial viewpoint. And Feminists had a lot to say about the morality practiced by the masters of Gor on their female slave subjects. As Feminists occupied more and more significant editorial positions at major publishers including the science fiction and fantasy divisions, hard-line Feminist thinking influenced decisions on all kinds of books, especially the kind that guys cherished. A lot of Feminist ire focused on Gor -- many female editors passionately hated Norman's world and all the decadent male chauvinism it seemed to stand for. (Not surprisingly, the author takes a very different view of all of this!) In any event, yes, by the 1990's you couldn't give Gor away.
The books were all out of print when I started E-Reads around 2000, but I discovered something very interesting when I went online. Not only was there a huge cult revolving around Gor (some of his hard to get editions sell in the used book market for well over $100), but many of those involved in Gorean role-playing games were women who were into fantasy slavery or simply took the stories in with a large dose of good humor.
Gor is once again alive and thriving on E-Reads, I'm happy to report. And as for Feminism in the publishing industry, IÆm also happy to report that it's here to stay. But it still unnerves me when female editors refer to the literature men like to read as *Boy-books.*
Readers and fans interested in learning more about John Norman and his Gorean world can visit John Norman's Chronicles of Gor.
- Richard Curtis
The First E-Reads Paperback Series was published in June, 2007, and consists of 26 books, from Tarnsman of Gor to Witness of Gor, which are easily identified by the small 40th anniversary button in the upper left corner of the cover. Between November, 2008 and September, 2012, E-Reads added another six volumes with the same cover design, but without the 40th anniversary button.
Note that E-Reads used a small 40th anniversary button, that didn't overlap the authors name on the left side of the cover. In 2010, with the Kindle Edition of the series, E-Reads used a large 40th anniversary button, overlapping the authors name on the left. As far as we know, these Kindle covers were never used for the paperback versions of the books.
Also note that the 26 books featuring the 40th anniversary button had a colored spot on the left side of the G of the word Gor. Even though the color scheme of the entire series followed a continues cycle (red, yellow, blue, green, orange and purple), the spot remained red on all the covers. This too was corrected with the Kindle Edition. Finaly, in 2008, with the release of Prize of Gor, E-Reads stepped away from the earlier color design. Following the light blue cover of Prize of Gor, a color that hadn't been used before, Kur of Gor should have been green, and not orange. Even worse, Swordsmen of Gor was published in reddish brown, and Conspirators of Gor in a very dark blue, also colors that hadn't been used before. With Smugglers of Gor the series returned to its original design.
Between 2009 and 2012, E-Reads published another eigth books by John Norman, and two by John Lange.
On Tuesday, March 5, 2013, E-Reads announced the release of the Second Printing of the Gor series:
E-Reads has commissioned new cover art for its bestselling John Norman fantasy series The Gorean Saga, and will be releasing the new editions early in spring 2013. Of the many landmarks in the publication of John Norman's bestselling Gor fantasy series, this new look is the most exciting since publication of the original volumes featuring Boris VallejoÆs cover art.
For some time, in response to fan feedback, E-Reads has been contemplating a brand-new, illustrated cover treatment to replace the current cover. After an extensive talent search, early in 2011 E-Reads contacted Shefali Randeria, founder of Cirque-Studios in India. Her studio's work reflected the look and feel we were looking for and Cirque was engaged to create a cover image for each volume, taken from the books themselves.
John Norman himself was personally involved in suggesting the scenes depicted and providing details of the Gorean world including flora and fauna, clothing, weapons, foods and customs. The result is a suite of colorful, dramatic and striking covers that will adorn the 32 volumes published over the last forty-plus years, making it the longest-running series of adventure novels in Science Fiction history. (And some more good news: a 33rd volume is on the way.)
The existing E-Reads covers will be taken down in the next 30-45 days, so collectors who want to fill in missing volumes in their e-book collections or print volumes are urged to purchase them now, as the old images will no longer be available after the changeover. However, avid collectors of the print editions can rest assured that the old spines will be retained, so that if they mix the old and new editions they will be indistinguishable when displayed spine-out.
Above are a few samples of these striking new covers. Keep your eyes out as the rest of the collection hits e-book and print retailers.
Four days later, on Saturday, March 9, 2013, The Complete John Norman republished the annoucement on its Home page (currently available in News), together with a five-cover preview.
On Friday, March 22, 2013, E-Reads released thumbnails of the entire new covers series:
John Norman's epic Gorean Saga is one of the longest-running and most successful series in the history of fantasy. It is also one of the most controversial. Over the course of more than thirty books produced over a span of six decades, the series has sold millions of copies and built legions of fans unrivaled in their devotion. E-Reads invites you to rediscover this brilliantly imagined world where men are masters and women live to serve their every desire. Read the entire saga, now with brilliant new cover art specially commissioned by E-Reads.
The series consists of 32 books.
The 33th volume of the Gor Series, entitled Rebels of Gor, and also featuring new artwork by Cirque Studios, is scheduled for publication in the second half of 2013.
Here is a cover gallery showing all the titlesand printings within theE-Reads Edition. The images are sorted by title. Click on any cover to see the book.