Toronto’s ECW Press is experimenting with short-form digital and print nonfiction with its new series of “pocket pop.” In April, ECW will release the first two books in a "Pop Classics" series, in which authors will have 20,000 to 40,000 words to passionately argue a case for a fresh look at or a new appreciation of particular pieces of pop culture.
In the provocatively titled It Doesn’t Suck, Adam Nayman, a film critic for Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, who has also written for the Village Voice and L.A. Weekly, will argue that Paul Verhoeven’s film Showgirls didn’t deserve the 1995 Razzie for Worst Picture, and is smarter than it was initially deemed.
The other lead title, Raise Some Shell, sees Richard Rosenbaum, a fiction editor at the online magazine Broken Pencil, arguing that the continued popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, “isn’t mere nostalgia, but the result of characters and a franchise, that mutated in a way that allowed them to thrive in a post-modern world,” according to an ECW release.
ECW already publishes a lot of books on television, film and music, but editor Jennifer Knoch told PW: “We’re a really passion driven publisher, and so we’re trying to encourage the same thing in our authors.” The short format may be liberating for some authors, she said. “A lot of times, we have authors who might not want to write 80,000 words on a particular topic, but could they write 20,000 to 40,000 words? Absolutely….It gave them a vehicle to really make a passionate plea for a certain film or series or artist or anything of that nature,” she said.
ECW is also betting that the short format will appeal to readers. “We’re calling this pocket pop, the quick light little thing that you can take with you when you are on the move or that is easy to read on a device in that it is a quicker, faster read," said Knoch.
Marketing will be guided by the books’ subject matter, she said, noting that Nayman will have an opportunity in March to introduce and discuss Showgirls at a retrospective of Verhoeven’s work being held at the Toronto International Film Festival’s new permanent home in downtown Toronto, the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
The next two books in the series — one on Elvis Costello’s album My Aim is True by film critic Richard Crouse and another on the television series Twin Peaks by pop culture writer Andy Burns — are slated to be published in February 2015.
Knoch said ECW had noted that forays into shorter non-fiction books appear to be doing well for other publishers and ECW wanted to test it out. Knoch mentioned Continuum Books’ 33 1/3 series, but Canadian houses such as Coach House Books, Linda Leith Publishing and Rocky Mountain Books have also been publishing short works of non-fiction as well.