There’s been a certain sentiment I’ve spotted around the interwebs lately in regards to a few Expanded Universe books that are coming out this year. People are unhappy with what has happened in recent series like Dark Nest, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi. So unhappy they claim they won’t be buying books like Mercy Kill and Scoundrels because they want to send a message to the folks at Del Rey at Lucasfilm. They do this despite the claims that they’re legitimately interested in these books. At first I thought that this kind of thought was isolated, but I’ve seen it mentioned by enough people now to warrant some kind of analysis and response.
Now, surely, a lot of this is just hyperbole. I imagine a fair amount of the people making these claims are going to go right out on release day to buy both of these books, but for a moment let’s look at this claim at face value. I’m unhappy with the state of the Expanded Universe so, as a means of protest, I will not buy these books I’m legitimately interested in. I don’t mean to belittle you if this is a mindset you’ve taken up, but I feel it’s important to spell this out explicitly.
A blanket protest of the Expanded Universe will not help your cause.
I apologize for being blunt, but it’s a point that needs to be made (and there’s going to be a lot of bold text in the rest of this PSA to drive the point home in an over-the-top fashion). Here’s the thing, even though sales numbers of EU material are down, series like Legacy and Fate of the Jedi are still selling relatively well. Well enough that Del Rey and Lucasfilm can continue telling stories like that and still make money. Even if you decide to stop buying books, period. There are enough fans who are content with the state of the EU to continue the status quo without you. In fact, the vast majority of EU fans are content with the status quo. You and I make up a minority. A vocal minority, but a minority nonetheless.
Here’s what your blanket protest will accomplish. If you choose not to buy books like Mercy Kill and Scoundrels, the only thing Del Rey and LFL will stop publishing are books like Mercy Kill and Scoundrels. Tim Zahn said as much during Origins. While his standalone books may be more critically reviewed than a series like Fate of the Jedi, they do not sell as well. The same concept will apply to Mercy Kill.
If you want more books like Scoundrels, you had better buy Scoundrels. If you want more books like X-Wing: Mercy Kill, you had better buy the first X-Wing book published in thirteen years.
If you don’t buy these books, the takeaway on Del Rey and Lucasfilm’s part won’t be that fans are discontent with the state of the Expanded Universe because the EU is still selling relatively well. The takeaway will be that there isn’t a market for the books you are interested in and have been asking for over the last thirteen years. Now is the time where we, as fans, have to put up or shut up because we’re at a very critical juncture that will determine what kind of stories are told in the Expanded Universe moving forward.
If you’re going to vote with your wallet, you need to be smart about it. Buy the things that interest you, refrain from buying the things that don’t. That’s how you can send a clear message. A blanket protest doesn’t tell Del Rey and LFL anything useful. I can’t make this any more clear. If you are interested in books like these and you want more stories like them, you need to buy them.