About The Edmonton Project: Longarm
This site is under construction. Please return soon to enjoy my Longarm themed skin. Eventually, every subject heading below will be its own separate webpage. Please browse all the titles in the collection and make comments on all of the books that you are familiar with. Thank you for visiting. If you have a collection of Longarm paperbacks and are willing to let me scan them into the database please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please check out the projects of my classmates at http://www.crcstudio.arts.ualberta.ca/strawberry and http://www.crcstudio.arts.ualberta.ca/chinese
Longarm in Edmonton
This site documents the adult-action-western (AAW) series Longarm. Since its inception in 1978 the Longarm series has published over three hundred individual paperbacks and still continues to publish at least a paperback a month. The series, written by several authors under the pseudonym Tabor Evans, offers a unique perspective into the paperback trade in Edmonton. The sheer popularity, the series’ genre crossing nature, and its voluminous publication numbers—in short, the public presence of the Longarm series—provide a unique window into the popular print market in Edmonton. There are over three hundred individual Longarm titles in the series, and many of them are in there seventh, eighth, and even ninth printings.
The Edmonton Aspect
Beyond the usual garage sales and second-hand shops, Longarm paperbacks are bought and sold in a number of locations within central Edmonton. There are two types of Longarm points of sale (POS) in the city, the recycled paperback market and the new paperback market. These two markets, co-existing within the same city, give the series an interesting vitality. A reader can easily find early and mid-run Longarm paperbacks, as well as fairly recent Longarm paperbacks, in the recycled market and then go to the local grocery store to pick up the latest installment in the series.
Longarm in the new paperback market
Wal-Mart, Save-On, and London Drugs all offer the Longarm series at several of their Edmonton locations. Interestingly, Superstore and Safeway do not, though they both have roughly equal amounts of retail space devoted to paperback books. The cover price of a new Longarm is $5.99. However, most POS offer a discount of between twenty and twenty-five percent off of the cover price. Save-on often offers the older stock Longarms for $1.99 when newer paperbacks in the series arrive. There are usually, however, only the latest three or four Longarm titles available at any given time. The availability of these sexually explicit paperbacks in retail chains that are usually culturally understood to offer family-friendly goods is striking. It prompts a few questions about the marketing of Longarm and other AAW’s in North America. I’ll address these questions in later. It is also worth mentioning that neither Chapters nor Indigo offer the Longarm series or any other AAW series at their locations in central Edmonton. Coles in West Edmonton Mall, however, does offer them.
Longarm in the recycled paperback market
The Wee Book Inn in Edmonton is by far the largest seller of recycled Longarm paperbacks in the city. Old Scona Books offers them as well but not to the extent of The Wee Book Inn. Roughly twenty-five percent of Old Scona Books’ Western shelf space is devoted to the Longarm series. The store’s entire offering of Westerns comprises two shelves and about forty titles. The AAW genre comprises approximately fifty percent of the total offerings in the Western paperback genre at the Wee Book Inns that I researched. The Longarm series, itself, comprises about thirty-percent of the total retail space devoted to AAW’s at the Wee Book Inns. These books, depending upon quality and age within the series, the older ones are generally less expensive, are priced anywhere from one dollar and fifty cents to four dollars. This is interesting because, as noted above, sometimes it is less expensive to buy the same Longarm title from a new paperback outlet than it is to buy the same book from a recycled paperback outlet. However, the recycled market offers hundreds of Longarm titles compared to the three or four latest titles available from the new paperback market. This probably speaks to the reading and buying habits of the Longarm reader. My goal with the website is to create a place that elicits worthwhile comments from those readers.
What is fascinating about the recycled market, specifically the Longarm paperbacks bought at The Wee Book Inn is the presence of store stamps from other recycled book sellers. Longarm 3, the image is located on the website, contains a store stamp from Pyramid Books, 10002 103rd, Fort Saskatchewan. Alberta, T8L 2E2. These books seem to be bought and sold over and over again. They even circulate between cities and provinces. Tracking the store stamps in these paperbacks would also be useful and fascinating study of the recycled paperback trade.
In researching the recycled Longarm market in Edmonton, I came across several Longarm paperbacks with reader’s marks written in the front inside pages. Most often these marks are initials, sometimes they have a little more flourish. Please see the image of the inside covers of Longarm 10, Longarm 3. Longarm 2 has two names and, coincidentally, Longarm 4 has four reader’s marks written on the inside front pages. I noticed these marks, or initials, too late in this project to get very far with them. However, while finding the owners of these marks could be impossible, there very existence seems significant. Currently, I am thinking of them as a form of branding. But for what purpose? I hope someone who visits this website can tell me.
Bought and Sold and Bought and Sold
So, a Longarm paperback is printed by Jove and shipped to Edmonton, (any information about the process of book distribution would be greatly appreciated), it sits on the shelf at Save-On, for example, and is sold for twenty-five percent off the cover price. That is $4.50. The purchaser reads the paperback inscribes it with a reader mark and trades it in for more paperbacks or sells it to a recycled paperback outlet. The store stamps the inside cover and puts it on the shelf for $4.00. It is bought and sold and marked and stamped until it is too worn to read again. That’s an amazing journey. I am roughly estimating, but a Longarm resold five times including the initial purchase could conceivably have totaled around twenty-one dollars in sales and traveled hundreds of kilometers. This process is what I wish I would have focused more specifically on in the early stages of this website. Any help or thoughts about this journey would be much appreciated.
The Longarm reader
It may seem impossible to label a Western series that is perennially on the weekly top fifty Western best seller list a cult or underground classic. It may also be pejorative, but there is a mystery around these AAW’s that is enticing. Why does Wal-Mart sell explicit pornography in the form of a Western when it is a well documented family-friendly store? Violent rap records are not sold at Wal-Mart nor movies that are deemed morally unsound. Wal-Mart does not sell Playboy or Hustler, yet on its bookshelves are these AAW’s among which the most severe can contain violent depictions of rape, murder and pedophilia. I am not interested in this contradiction from a moral standpoint. I am, however, interested in the existence of the contradiction. How has this genre slipped under the radar when so many other sexually explicit aspects of North American society have not? While adult entertainment has certainly become more widely accepted thru the late nineties and into the twenty-first century, it has not arrived at the local grocery store. In fact, adult entertainment magazines have been largely removed from local grocery and convenience stores.
Does this contradiction stem from the readership? Is there an ignorance about the genre? The label given by Jove Publishing is somewhat vague. The phrase ‘adult action western’ could mean anything. Does Jove Publishing inculcate this ignorance? But, again, what about the reader?
This is a small aspect of the type of information that I hope The Edmonton Project: Longarm website will provide. I created the website in order to elicit responses from the reader: Where do you buy Longarm? What do you like about the series, the genre, the individual texts? What does Longarm mean to you? How do you approach the series? Do you read them all or just the ones that sound interesting? Do you read others in the genre like Spur, Bushwackers, Diamondback, and Jake Slocum. Due to the sheer size of the series, giving the fans and the readers a space to help document it and unravel its mysteries is a necessity. I view the website not as a culmination of this study, but a very early beginning—many small details must be worked out for the website to function as I envision it. Some of these questions not necessarily pertinent to popular print in Edmonton, but they are pertinent to serial popular print in general. Who are the writers of the series? What are their real names? What are their other pseudonyms? What else do they write? Do they collaborate? The pseudonym Tabor Evans is currently listed as a house pseudonym for Jove Publishing. Debates about artistic integrity aside, what does it mean for a corporation to, essentially, write a serial? Efforts to contact Jove Publishing directly about the series and the genre have failed.
The Adult-Action Western Genre
The Longarm series is just one series in a genre that is, by sheer shelf space, a significant section of popular print, and this sub-genre comprises a majority of the Western genre. The series: Spur, Lone Star, Jake Slocum, and Bushwhackers all fit into this sexually explicit genre. These are just a few titles, there are more. They are similar in that they are Westerns and that they contain explicit sex scenes. Any more specific of a definition of the genre seems to make a judgment on the moral, cultural and literary worth of the genre. This is what I have been attempting to avoid. The protagonist or protagonists can be anyone from cowboy brothers to a coed team experienced in martial arts, to a former Confederacy officer on the run from the Federal police in the post-Civil War South. And then there is Longarm, the nickname of Custis Long, a Federal Marshal based out of Denver in the post-Civil War South. Interestingly, some of the series published by Jove overlap. In the Longarm Giant editions of the series, the martial arts team from the Lone Star series joins Longarm to solve a crime. These Longarm Giant editions are published biannually and run about three hundred pages in length, a hundred pages longer than the usual editions.
If the AAW genre is set apart from the Western genre due to its explicit sexual content, then these individual series can be categorized by the type of sexual content that they contain. Longarm, for example, describes about four consensual sex scenes with adult women in each new paperback. The description of the sex scenes is more explicit than one would get in an average Harlequin romance, however, it is decidedly more reserved than what one would find in the Spur series. And the Diamondback series feels only slightly more explicit than a Harlequin romance. I submit the penis scale for rating the sexual explicitness of the individual series in the AAW genre. For example, the words penis or shaft are used to describe a penis in a Diamondback paperback. The words shaft, manhood, and cock are often used to describe a penis in a Longarm paperback. And the words dick and prick are used at the exclusion of generally less risqué terms for penis in a Spur paperback. Spur also contains accounts of pedophilia and rape-murders. This information is not pertinent to what I am attempting to do currently, but it will probably become more necessary as the attempt to document the distribution and readership of Longarm and the AAW genre progress.
Jove Books is an imprint of Berkley Books, which is, in turn, owned by Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Information about Jove Books can be found here: http://www.idiotsguides.com/static/packages/us/about/adult/jove.htm. Jove publishes the Longarm series and some of the other AAW’s that I have already named. As I have indicated before, attempts to contact Jove Books have failed. However, the Penguin Group Website offers an introductory history of both Jove Books and Berkley Books. Jove Books currently publishes the AAW series: Longarm, Diamondback, Bushwhackers, The Gunsmith, and Jake Logan. A Jove Books AAW series that is no longer running is Easy Company (see the images for Longarm 11. They contain an advertisement from 1979 about the Easy Company series.) I am sure there are other discontinued series out there and hopefully the reader feedback from the website will help rediscover these lost series.
The AAW series Spur is published under the Leisure Western imprint owned by the Dorchester Publishing. For history on Dorchester Publishing see: http://www.dorchesterpub.com/Dorch/about.cfm
Discovering the authors behind the pseudonym Tabor Evans has been difficult. I have found the names of three authors who worked on the series in its beginning. The Literature Resource Center, available through the University of Alberta’s Library’s on-line databases, has helped verify the results of initial Google searches. Lou Cameron, Harry (Benjamin) Whittington, Jeffery Miner Wallmann, and William Cecil Knott Jr. all have authorship of numbers Longarm paperbacks attributed to them on the Literature Resource Center’s Author Biography. Interestingly, up to three authors at one time are attributed authorship of the same Longarm paperback. This poses the question, were these paperbacks written collaboratively? Again, hopefully a fan or a reader could provide this answer on the comments section of the website. A more accessible site with information about William C. Knott is the Cowboy Directory, www.cowboydirectory.com. Information on Harry Whittington can be found at www.disc-us.com/profiles/whittington_home1.htm. A slight bit of information on Lou Cameron, under the pseudonym Ramsay Thorne, can be found at www.clodbooks.com.
The Stores that Sell Longarm in Edmonton.
I came up with this list by visiting all the book stores in south and central Edmonton listed in the Yellow Pages. It may not be a hundred percent coverage but it is pretty close. Any suggestions or corrections would be much appreciated.
The Wee-Book Inn
Old Scona Books
Cowboy Directory (for William Cecil Knott Jr.)
History on Jove Books
History on Leisure Westerns
History on Dorchester Publishing
Literature Resource Center (must have a computing account with University of Alberta)
All images were scanned in at the world famous CRC studio. Many thanks to the CRC staff who helped me scan in these images on the Epson 1250, manipulate them into three different viewable formats in Photoshop and then upload them to the site. All images were created in April 2004.
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