Felony & Mayhem Press was born out of irritation. I was one of the owners of Partners & Crime, a mysteries-only bookstore in New York’s Greenwich Village, and I had spent years recommending books to my customers. I got a big kick out of this, but that kick kept getting harder to find, as mass consolidations in the publishing industry meant that thousands of good book were being taken out of print. Time and again, I would find myself saying “I have the perfect book for you! And…we can’t get it anymore.” This made me cranky.
Then I read an article in the New York Times about a machine invented by some fellow in Florida. With a name like Bookmaster 15000, it was a loony, Rube Goldberg-like contraption involving computers, printers, glue trays, paper cutters, laminators, thermostats, pulleys, and a partridge in a pear tree. The inventor claimed it could produce a paperback book in seven minutes. It cost $30,000, had no service contract, and was roughly the size of a small mobile home, but for one brief, shining moment I was captivated: We could get the rights to these out-of-print books, manufacture them in our basement, and sell them at Partners & Crime! My partner put the kibosh on the idea, in part by pointing out that we had room in the basement for perhaps two large shoeboxes.
But the idea of bringing out-of-print books back to life had taken hold. From there it was merely a matter of making an insane number of phone calls, borrowing a terrifying amount of money, and mailing out catalogs. We launched officially in June 2005, and now have more than 100 titles in print. Many of them, including some of our bestsellers, are reissues, but we also publish an increasing number of first paperback editions of books previously published in hardcover, and (particularly) first U.S. editions of books that initially came out overseas. Last year we brought out our first original: Annamaria Alfieri's The Idol of Mombasa, a historical mystery set in 1910s British East Africa, which will be followed by another title in that series in January 2018.
Maggie Topkis, Publisher