Over the weekend, Brad Thor sent out a newsletter to notify readers that the release of Near Dark, the next novel in his #1 New York Times bestselling Scot Harvath series, was pushed back further into the summer.
Originally slated to come out in June, Near Dark will now storm into bookstores on July 21st. Though no reasoning was given in the newsletter, Thor did seem to indicate in one social media post that the delay had something to do with the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down most of the country—including bookstores.
“Dear readers: I just posted the plot for NEAR DARK on my website,” wrote Thor in a tweet that went out on April 4th. “Enjoy! I also posted an updated release date, which I hope will allow me to see you on tour while, together, we support our magnificent bookstores across the USA. Stay safe and stay healthy!”
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Publishing Industry
For what it’s worth, I’ve been talking to editors, authors, agents, and about a dozen publicists and various markering employees (all with Big Five NYC publishers), who’ve all told me, off the record, that they expect various releases to move back due to Coronavirus. The problem, of course, has been that as of right now, nobody can even begin to predict—at least not with any accuracy—when things will begin to go back to normal. So, if you’re a major publisher who has a book scheduled to come out within the next two months, it makes all the sense in the world to push that back . . . but to when?
Even if we did know exactly when the country would get back to work, if everyone positioned their biggest titles to come out at the same time, they’ll flood the market and many authors will take a major loss on sales as readers will most likely flock towards the biggest names in the industry. That seems to be the thinking from the people I’ve spoken too. And obviously, the writers who do have books coming out over the next four to six weeks—most notably Don Winslow, Brad Meltzer, and Jack Carr—have already canceled their book tours, much like Joel Rosenberg and others who just had new books drop were forced to do too.
On one hand, the industry people I’ve spoken to have all shared a common sentiment—that all of this, the COVID-19 pandemic and people fighting for their lives, is much, much bigger than books. However, there’s no denying the truth that in a moment like this, when people are stuck inside and afraid, a well-crafted thriller can provide a much-needed escape (FYI—a ton of authors have huge discounts on eBooks right now).
In the end, the general feeling I’ve gathered over the last two weeks from the dozens of discussions I’ve had with the very people having to make these decisions about publishing dates and whatnot is that nobody knows what to do.
In a fitting twist, one marketing employee from a Big Five publisher told me last week that they expected the first “domino” to fall soon, and that if it was a big name there might be a whole lot of other titles being pushed back soon thereafter. Well, Thor is the best of the best, and even if COVID-19 wasn’t the sole deciding factor for his book to be moved back, he’s the kind of household name that could spur other publishers to follow suit and delay some of their big titles too. That’s not a certainty, but I’d expect to see additional movement in the coming weeks. Either way, we’ll know soon enough.
Plot Details for Near Dark
To end with some good news and bring things full-circle here, Thor’s newsletter also contained the highly-anticipated plot details for Near Dark, which until this past weekend had been kept under wraps, and let’s just say that his 20th Harvath book sounds absolutely incredible.
Check it out below!
The world’s largest bounty has just been placed upon America’s top spy. His only hope for survival is to outwit, outrun, and outlast his enemies long enough to get to the truth.
But for Scot Harvath to accomplish his most dangerous mission ever – one that has already claimed the lives of the people closest to him, including his new wife – he’s going to need help – a lot of it.
Not knowing whom he can trust, Harvath finds an unlikely ally in Norwegian intelligence operative, Sølvi Kolstad. Just as smart, just as deadly, and just as determined, she not only has the skills, but also the broken, troubled past to match Harvath’s own.
Pursued by a select group of highly-accomplished assassins, Harvath must learn to work with Kolstad in order to wrestle his worst demons and battle one of his greatest foes – or be consumed by the darkness quickly closing in around him.
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.