Nov 302010

Sadly, Specialty Press is shutting down their aviation publication biz effective right now. This means that the books that were due to come out in 2011… won’t be coming out (unless they find another publisher).

I called them earlier today to confirm that this was true, and sadly it is. The reason is purely economic… the market for aviation books has been in decline for the last decade or more (call it “since the end of the Cold War”), and the current recession has made an even bigger dent.

Here’s what I got from a phone call to the VP of operations:
1) Yes, they are shutting down publishing of their own books. No more new titles.
2) They are in the process of informing the affected authors. The public announcement of this was to occur sometime in the next day or so, but they wanted to talk to the authors first.
3) They are hoping to find new homes for the cancelled titles with other publishers, but the options are few.
4) This is a result of the economy in general and a several-year-long major decline in sales of books in this area in particular. Sales have been so slim that the print runs have been too low to be economically viable.
5) Piracy is *not* considered a major factor… just economics and a change in the demographics. people just aren’t as interested in the aviation topics as they used to be.
6) SP isn’t shutting their doors… they will continue dealing with other publishers. But their own publishing business is, sadly, kaput.

So if you were planning on buying one of their forthcoming books… tough luck. if you were planning on buying one of their current books… do so now, as there probably won’t be any more. And the chances are, they’re not going to get any cheaper when there aren’t any more of them.

Here’s a link to the Amazon search results page for “Specialty Press:”

Specialty Press
And here are some SP books I recommend from personal experience:

AAAARGH. I really wanted volume 2 of that…

Damn, I’ve got a lot of their books.

 Posted by at 9:38 pm
  • Bruce

    I always liked the unbuilt and prototype stuff myself along with the built
    and known stuff.

  • Jim Ward

    Yup, was waiting on two such titles in the new year. Ah well.

  • Pat Flannery

    Interest in things like this was always related to plastic model building, and model building is dying off fairly rapidly… due to too few kids getting into the hobby when they are young, and the model builders of yesteryear (like yours truly) rapidly aging.
    And who can blame them? There are few entry-level low-priced models left out there, and the new ones are very detailed, but also very expensive, far more suitable to an adult’s rather than child’s income, and too complex for a beginner to cut their teeth on with any degree of assurance that they will end up with anything presentable for their labors and monetary investment.

  • Michael Holt

    Thanks. I forwarded the Up-ship links to my Other Half in hopes that she’ll pay attention to my needs.

    I’m truly sorry to see this one go away, but I’ve seen the diminishing interest in matters technical in all arenas. Pat’s stated one of the problems quite well. I tried to find my son a starter model, but found nothing suitable for someone who’d never before built models.

  • Bruce

    They used to have starter kits years ago…didn’t Revell,Aurora and Monogram have a few?

  • admin

    Actually, re: starter models, there are a *lot* of starter models available out there. The thing is, they’ve been dumbed *way* down… pre-painted, a very small number of parts. And of course, BACK IN MY DAY, a simple model cost like two bucks. They’re up almost an order of a magnitude.

    Testors has a whole series of “quick build” models, aircraft, cars and tanks, that might fit the bill:

    Now, take note: while the models are fairly serviceable in terms of accuracy and ease of construction, for some unknown reason Testors decided to just slap random scales on the boxes. “1/72 scale? Sure, who’ll care?”

    Another manufacturer of entery-level models is “Hobby Boss,” a Chinese company. I hate to say it, but the Hobby Boss kits I’ve seen tend to be really quite good, and really quite cheap.

    And yet another source of entry-level models are the “4D Vision” kits out of Japan. The smaller kits are described not as “models,” but as “puzzles,” but still build up into servicable models:

    4D Vision also makes some realy *very* impressive full-up large-scale “cutaway” models. Thesea re also snap-together, pre-painted kits, but far more complex (and lots more expensive):

    I have both the F-14 and the Shuttle. They are awesome.

    What I don’t have:

    DROOOOOOL. I wants me a bunch of those.

    4D Vsion also makes a whole mess of “visible critter” snap-kit models, including sharks and dinosaurs:

    I’ve not built any of those, but I imagine they’re good.

  • Pat Flannery

    Kill two birds with one stone; get the kids the reissues of the old Lindberg kits of 1950’s jet fighters.
    Start here:
    Those kids need model Convair Pogos, Douglas Stilletos, McDonnell XF-88 Voodoos, and German jet and rocket fighters.
    The fact that the cockpit detail will consist of a pilot in a seat and no control stick or instrument panel will give them a challenge to develop their vital skills at scratch-building things.
    As an added bonus, some of these kits will have _moving parts_ and some will have _raised rivets_ all over them, rather than today’s anemic recessed panel lines. 🙂

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  • Jeff Wright

    Now the book Terraforming was an SAE imprint, with the recent Apollo and Enterprise books were Haynes. I wonder if the folks who print automobile manuals might be looking for new titles to keep running. Then too, didn’t Starlog make money of wrestling mags. Omni had Penthouse to prop it up, and it still went down…

  • That’s really devastating news. The number one reason I love Specialty Press is that they go the extra mile when it comes to releasing fantastic aviation titles that may not appeal to the masses. Very sad to see that indeed to all good things comes an end.

    *insert four-letter obscenity here*!

    My Christmas wishlist is about to multiply now…

    This news definitely did not make my day, but thanks so much for letting us know.

  • PS. Anyone knows how to get in touch with the authors? Might have a publisher or two for them already!

    PPS. That Hobby Boss Hellcat box “art” is a rather pathetic form of plagiarism:
    I mean seriously… what is that Hellcat doing?

    PPPS. The 4D Vision snap-kits are really quite neat.

  • admin

    > Anyone knows how to get in touch with the authors?

    I’m in occasional contact with many of them.

  • Glenn Weaver

    This is indeed sad news. I have many Specialty books and was so looking forward to the future releases. I personally know a few of the authors who wrote books for SP. Hate to see them lose their gigs. Hopefully a new publisher will pick them up since they all do such excellent work.
    Pat Flannery is right about the younger generation not being as involved in model building as we older guys are. Many of SP’s books do go hand in hand with modeling.
    Another victim of a changing world and very tough economy.

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