We all remember roughly when we read our first Target book. Some people bought theirs from a corner shop, or a John Menzies store. They’re a staple of jumble sales. Some fans read their first Target book in the ’70s, when they had titles like Doctor Who and the Loch Ness Monster or Doctor Who and the Space War. Anthony Dry, for example, picked up his first one in WHSmith in 1983. Some people even remember the time when Frederick Mueller Ltd. published the first three novels, putting the serials, The Daleks, The Crusade, and The Web Planet into prose form.
I bought mine in 2011 when a small selection of them were reissued and I’ve been a fan ever since.
I recently bought two job lots of old-school – or, if you will, classic – novels. It was my own fault, really; nobody made me click on the auctions or hand the money over. As I was trying to gently shove the books into my already-burdened bookshelf, the thought struck me: ‘Why didn’t I just buy these on Kindle?’ But, it turns out that, aside from the reissues from this decade, and the recent NuWho novelisations (Rose, et al.), there aren’t any on Kindle.
I think they’ve missed a trick here. Since they have the rights, BBC Books should put the currently out-of-print books onto Kindle. It’s not really practical to bring more than 100 novels back to a physical marketplace – most of them would quickly revert to being out of print. True, some of the work has already been done; as part of the reissues in 2011 and 2012, then again in 2016, the physical releases were accompanied by Kindle ebooks. For the digital collector, their work is partly done.
As we see it, there are a number of advantages to Kindle releases. We don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of publishing costs, but even your man on the omnibus could tell you that digital versions don’t come with printing costs, delivery charges, or need any warehouses to hold unsold stock. They’re very quick reads, so if the reader wants to keep going, they can download a new one almost immediately.
The prices can be set by the publisher; for instance, they could do a temporary offer where the eBook price is the same as the original price was back in the good old days. (For instance, next to me I have a copy of Doctor Who and the Planet of Evil, circa 1977 and priced 60p – how amazing would it be if you could buy a Kindle version for 60p?)
There’s no need for them to do a physical release for any of the 100+ books in the range, but they could if they wanted to, if there was sufficient interest. Anthony Dry could even do the cover art again.
We’ll leave the logistics to BBC Books, but this is an ideal way to take Target from the jumble sale to the modern age.
So what do you think, dear DWC reader? Would you like to see BBC Books dig into the back catalogue and produce ebooks of the stories now long sold out? Or do they all deserve print copies? Which titles are you itching to read again or for the first time?