Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Otto Penzler, The Champion Of Crime Stories: My Washington Times On Crime Column On The Noted Editor And Publisher

The Washington Times published my On Crime column on Otto Penzler.

I’ve often been told that short-story collections don’t sell, which is disheartening, as I love short stories and 10 of my crime-fiction short stories have appeared in online magazines.

Otto Penzler, the president and CEO of MysteriousPress.com and the owner of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, disagrees with that notion, as his anthologies of short stories sell quite well.

He is the editor of a good number of anthologies, such as “The Big Book of Reel Murders: Stories That Inspired Great Crime Films,” which I reviewed here, as well as “The Big Book of Pulps,” “The Big Book of Female Detectives,” “The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories” and “The Big Book of Jack the Ripper.” He also edits “The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year” series, the “Best American Crime Reporting” series, and other collections.

Otto Penzler has for decades been the champion of crime stories. The Mystery Writers of America presented him with two Edgar Awards, one for his “Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection” in 1977 and another for “The Lineup” in 2010. The Mystery Writers of America also presented him with the Ellery Queen Award in 1994 and the Raven, the organization’s highest non-writing award, in 2003.

I asked Otto Penzler how “The Big Book” series began. 

“It started when a British publisher asked if I could do a collection of pulp stories,” Mr. Penzler recalled. “He said do one on detectives. I barely started and he said do another one on women in pulps, and then while you’re at it, do one on villains. I produced three books and each one was about 500 pages. My agent saw these and said we should get an American publisher. The editor of Vintage liked the books and wanted to make them into one big book. He published the first “Big Book,” “The Big Book of Pulps.”

Otto Penzler said the book was so successful that his editor asked him to next edit “The Big Book of Black Masks Stories.”

“The ‘Big Books’ are a terrific bargain,” Mr. Penzler said. “It is like buying six books.”

I asked him how he selected the stories for his anthologies.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 50 years. I’ve been a reader, a collector, an editor, a publisher, and a book seller,” Mr. Penzler said. “I’ve read voraciously for many years and my collection is nearly 60,000 volumes of first editions of mystery, thriller, espionage and suspense.

You can read the rest of the column via the below link:


You can also read my reviews of books Otto Penzler edited via the below links:





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