Ever since I was a child I've had a fascination with all things horror - books, magazines, movies - you name it .... I loved it! Friday nights were always a great treat. My parents let me stay up late to watch a double bill of horror films (usually black & white) on BBC2 - scary stuff when you're a ten year old!
In my teens I discovered Fangoria magazine and as video players became more affordable indulged my passion by trying to blag 18 rated video cassettes from my local rental shop when I was clearly not old enough (funny but when I was old enough it wasn't half as much fun). I also developed a love of the written word and without even realising it became a "book collector". My mom had bought me a paperback of Carrie (the one with the blood dripping head) when I was off school sick - WOW! Then my English teacher, a great guy by the name of Dave Kelly, lent me his copy of The Stand. That was it .... job done .... I was hooked for life. I read avidly; Stephen King, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz, Shaun Hutson, James Herbert, my all time favourite Richard Laymon (now very sadly deceased) and many, many more.
From my late twenties I started collecting seriously; first editions, signed editions, uncorrected proofs and then thanks to the internet I discovered Limited Editions and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest if my life .... publish some great books!
Back in 2000 I discussed publishing with my good pal Roy Robbins but I was so busy with my DVD business it never got off the ground. Ten years on and Roy is publishing some great titles through Bad Moon and I'm just about to launch. Funny the way things work out sometimes.
So is there room for another small press? I think there is because this is a small press with a difference. When I started putting the business plan together (yes ... it is a business! ... I have to feed the kids somehow) I had a really good look at my own collection and what other publishers were doing.
The first thing I realised was that there were very few UK based companies who seemed to be taking it seriously (Pete Crowther's excellent PS Publishing being the notable exception). All the big names were US based.
The second thing I realised was that "Limited Editions" were no longer "Limited". The business seemed to have become much more commercial .... whilst a restricted print run of 1000 copies is by definition "Limited", to me that's not a "Limited Edition".
The third thing I realised, and this was the real kicker, was that the quality of the binding had deteriorated. In the good old days a limited edition would usually be fully bound in real cloth with a sewn text block. Not today. Most "Limited Editions" are bound in Wibalin and have a glued spine - exactly the same as the trade hard covers you can buy in Waterstones (or Barnes & Noble if you're in the US). Okay, they may be signed and have lots of pretty pictures but for me, as a collector of books, the binding and presentation of the book itself definitely leaves something to be desired.
Lastly, when I looked at my bookshelf I realised that there were a lot of gaps. There are some great books out there that deserve to be published as a limited edition ... a book that can be treasured for generations to come.
So, MHB Press was born and my philosophy is simple. Whilst I will publish some new works / new authors I am going to specialise in publishing "out of print" and classic works of horror and erotic horror. I am only going to publish a title if I would be happy to see it on my shelf (very self indulgent I know but hey! ... I'm a collector and I figure if I would want it so will someone else) and I'm only going to publish books I would be proud to own.
And so to the books themselves. I knew I wanted to publish finely bound "limited" editions (I get as much pleasure out of holding a well made book as I do reading it!) but I also knew that collectors have different budgets and so after taking lots of advice decided that each title would be published in three states:
A Collectors Edition - either 150 or 300 numbered copies signed by the author, fully bound in cloth with a sewn block (just like the good old days!), DJ, coloured end papers, head bands and bound in ribbon book mark.
A Deluxe Edition - either 75 or 150 copies numbered in roman numerals signed by the author, sewn text block, quarter bound in the finest quality goat skin leather with cloth or paper covered boards, marbled or embossed endpapers, head bands, ribbon book mark and issued in a robust hand made slipcase.
A Lettered Edition - 26 copies lettered A-Z and signed by the author, crown quarto size, sewn text block, usually fully bound in the finest quality goat skin leather with gold stamping to spine and boards, hand made marbled end papers, gilt edges issued in a custom hand made solander traycase.
The Deluxe and Lettered editions are all hand bound by British craftsmen using traditional binding techniques - (that means you get a properly rounded spine!). I have been very fortunate to find a binder who is as excited about this business as I am. Okay, he may not be in to horror but he is as much of a book nerd as I am ! His help and advice has been invaluable and the quality of his work is quite simply outstanding.
That's about it. Apologies for being so long winded but I needed to explain all of this to the wife anyway!
If you have just read this for the first time and you are thinking about buying one of my books - you won't regret it. If you've already pre-ordered / purchased one of my books then I'd like to thank you for your support.
Greg Hurlstone (publisher - at last!)