Imprint Identification

by Mike Escutia

Shortly after RACC Presents #1 was posted, Stephen Reid noted that there was no way to tell from the table of contents which imprints the various stories were parts of. He reasoned that there should be -some- way of letting people know that such-and-such-a-story was an LNH, Omega, NTC, or Eleck story. For example, how many people knew that Stephen's own story in that issue, "Long Distance", was a New Troy Chronicles story from the table of contents alone? He had a point, and at the time, I agreed fully with him.

But that was then. This is now.

I tried various possibilities, from putting imprint names in parenthesis after the titles to putting them after the names of the -writers-, but wasn't satisfied with any of them. And I didn't want to split the lines in two, either, because these posts are already long enough as it is.

I kept looking back at that first variation -- the one with the imprint names in parenthesis after the titles -- and all I could think of was one question:

"Is there any point to having these here?"

How many anthology books have you seen that tell you in the table of contents what universe a particular story is set in? Chances are, you havn't seen any. If Terry Pratchett was to write a story for some fantasy collection, it probably wouldn't say "(Discworld)" after the title. It probably wouldn't even say "(A Discworld Story)", unless Pratchett decided to make it part of the title.

And, really, would it matter if it did? Would someone who had never heard of any of the authors in that anthology, let alone Terry Pratchett, care if the table of contents told them what worlds the stories were set in? Chances are, they'd probably scratch their head, wonder what all those words in parenthesis meant, and go on to the next page.

More importantly, though, they'd at least get to the first page of a story before they decide if they want to read it.

There's a simple rule at work here, and I'll put it in as few words as possible:

Don't confuse people when you don't have to.

Seriously. RACC Presents is supposed to be as newbie-friendly as humanly possible, and the less it confuses readers, the better. The individual stories already tell you what imprints they're set in, so there's no real need to do it in the table of contents, too.

(And yes, I know this goes completely against the keyword principle we've all become attached to. But then, not every principle works in all possible cases.)

Besides, in the long run, what does it matter if there's no immediate separation of stories into imprints? They're all serving the same purpose (to be read and, hopefully, enjoyed), much in the same way that different types of apples serve the same purpose (to be eaten and, hopefully, enjoyed).

After all, when it comes right down to it, an apple is an apple is an apple.

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Addendum: It occurred to me a few days after the Usenet release of RP2 that half of my argument falls flat on the Web. Go figure.

-Mike Escutia

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