The Casemate Group publishes as many as 50 titles on military subjects annually, so company president David Farnsworth speaks from experience when he says that many books about war are too specialized for a general readership. The result, Farnsworth says, is that publishers “run the risk of forgetting that new people are coming into the interest [area] every year.”
In order to reach those readers, Casemate is launching the Casemate Short History series, a line of single-subject introductory volumes. Unlike the large, detailed, and often expensive titles many readers associate with military history, these paperbacks retail for $12.95, are each about 160 pages long, and are narrative-driven. Each book contains breakouts, sidebars, images, and quotations to make it more inviting and less dense.
The first four volumes publish in August: Tanks by Oscar E. Gilbert and Romain Cansière, Big Guns by Angus Konstam, Fighter Aces by John Sadler and Rosie Serdiville, and Sharpshooters by Gary Yee. Four more follow in October, with another eight titles slated for release in 2018.
Casemate’s editorial team came up with the books’ subjects and commissioned experienced authors to tackle them. Tanks coauthor Gilbert, for example, is a retired U.S. Marine Corps artilleryman who spent over three decades working for the U.S. government. He and Cansière wrote an earlier volume for Casemate, 2015’s Tanks in Hell (Casemate, 2015), which won the 2016 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award for distinguished nonfiction.
The publisher is taking a reserved approach to marketing the titles in the near term. A larger push is planned after the first eight titles have published, because once the series is well underway, Farnsworth says, Casemate can present it as a whole to readers and to booksellers: “There are eight books out already, there are eight books next year, and we’ve got the sample copies.”
Already, he says, preliminary discussions with Barnes & Noble have been encouraging. “They get what we’re trying to do.”
The opportunity to publish for a general audience, says Farnsworth, a 20-year veteran of military history publishing, has obvious benefits for business. With their consumer-friendly format and price point, he says, “There’s a wide possibility of markets for these books.”