Maybe they don't make enough money selling complete HH novels and its just not sustainable for them to do so?
I strongly doubt that was originally the case. Near the end of their mass market paperback release cycles the HH novels were hitting the NY Times Bestsellers list. After their switch to "limited hardback" -> "trade paperback" -> "maybe we'll eventually get around to a mass market paperback if we aren't busy reprinting old books and jacking up the price" policy? Not so much.
Not sustainable for them to sell novels of a bestselling series? Somebody's doing it wrong.
Frankly, I think BL has horrendously botched the management of their product lines. The true unsustainable model is what they're doing now: releasing less and less content for higher and higher prices, while utterly failing to communicate with their customer base beyond "Surprise! Here's another super-limited edition for a 120 page novella that costs $40!"
Their first mistake was coming to view their product line as some range of high-end collectibles, as opposed to what they really do, which is pulp tie-in fiction. And let's be clear: there's nothing wrong with pulpy fiction
, in the same way that there's nothing wrong with a cheap and cheerful diner that serves up heaping platefuls of comfort food. It's just a different sort of product compared to, say, a three star Michelin restaurant that's all about the latest trends in locally sourced ingredients and experimental techniques. However, if that comfort food diner tries to market and present itself as that exclusive restaurant, it's going to fail. Black Library is trying to do just that.
Their second mistake was in their response to that dissonance when sales dropped. Instead of looking at why
sales might be dropping, they chose to raise prices, and raise prices, and raise prices. Oh, and put out less product. Zuh?!
Isn't that a classic recipe for a spiral of doom?
"Hey boss, people are buying less of our stuff."
"Great! Make it more expensive, that way we'll get the same amount of money even though we're selling less."
"Done! Uh, hey boss, people are buying even less of our stuff now."
"Great! Make it more expensive, again!"
At this point, the whole system is fethed. I just hope some of the authors who've put out solid work make it out okay.