A Guide to Black Library Book Formats


Black Library is a company by Games Workshop Limited (GW). It exclusively publishes fiction set in and on the fictional universes of GW's renamed tabletop mini games: Warhammer Fantasy and its science-fiction cousin Warhammer 40.000. These miniature games are very popular with teenagers and young adults, especially in the UK and the USA.

Since its narrow focus, Black Library has grown from humble beginnings in 1997 into a highly prolific publisher. As of 2013, it publishes between 5 and 10 new, original novels, short-story anthologies or audio-dramas each month. Its catalog includes a many hit novels, many of which topped the New York Times bestseller lists for weeks.

As this publishing company grew successful, its catalog of publications grew ever more extensive. The following provides a guide on the main formats offered by Black Library. It also provides a short discussion on some of the alternative formats, including the Horus Heresy audio dramas and the upcoming graphic novels.

In summary, all newer formats consistently indicate an explicit and decent efforts by Black Library to move into a more up-market, premium segment with their products.

1. The mass-paperback format

Without a doubt, Black Library built its success on inexpensive pulp novels in a budget paperback format. Since the company's found 15 years ago, these well-thumbed 10-dollar volleyball detailing the heroes of medieval Knights or trials of far future Space Marines have become an ever-present mainstay among fans of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40.000 universes.

There are literally several hundred full-fledged novels, as well as a great range of short-story anthologies available in this format. Today, the public image of Black Library is closely linked to these books.

2. The hard-cover novellas

More recently, Black Library added a selection of shorter novellas in a premium hard-back format to its catalog. Typically these stories are 120 to 130 pages long, bound in a glossy hard-cover format without dust-jacket. Occidentally, they come with interior art or a map in the center of the book.

Originally, this smaller and, relatively, more expensive format was used to publish stories tying directly to specific product releases, such as the Dark Vengeance Novella published to go with the boxed set of miniatures of the same name. This set the novella apart from the regular novels, which tie into the fictional setting on a leader level, but not to any specific product released for the game.

The format has since been used more liberally.

3. The Black Library Premium Hard-covers

A big step by Black Library to upgrade their products (and its company image) from budget pulp-novels to a more upmarket publishing enterprise was the introduction of premium, or collectors, hard-cover version for their novels in mid-2012.

These novels resemble hard-cover books published by more mainstream publishers of fiction. They are larger in length and width than both the soft-cover and the novella publications, bound in a hard carton-cover, wrapped with a dust-jacket featuring the cover art.

These new collectors' hard-cover novels were introduced first in Black Library's most successful, New York Times bestselling Horus Heresy series of novels. This multi-author exploration of the fictional history of Games Workshop's dystopian sci-fi gaming universe has been available since 2006.

2012, Black Library started re-releasing older titles of the Horus Heresy series for Warhammer 40.000, such as the James Swallow Horus Heresy Novel The Flight of the Eisenstein , in this premium format. It also now publishes all new novels to this series in the premium format first, with the soft-cover version usually usually delayed by several months.

It should be noted that these premium hard-covers, unlike their soft-cover counterparts, are not available through retailers or e-commerce sites such as Amazon.


Overall, the variety of new products from Black Library tell the story of a new emphasis in branding, marketing and selling the fictional works that go with the Warhammer and Warhammer 40.000 universes as premium products.

However, given that the "budget-formats", which were and continue to be the foundation of their success, remain in print and in production, this trend only provides variety to the customer. And judging by the seeming success of the new formats, many of them crave their Warhammer and Warhammer 40K fiction in a premium format.