Thursday, October 21, 2010

Amazon, B&N and Dorchester Acting Badly

I got rear-ended on my way home from work last night. Pulled over only to see the other driver take off like a bat out of hell, weaving and dodging through traffic like a running back moving down the field. I gave chase while dialing 9-1-1 where I got a busy message. My goal was modest--get a license number to give the police--but I gave it up when I realized how dangerously she was driving.

The sheriff's department took 40 minutes to get to me. The deputy was very kind but dismissive. He handed me a card with my case number on it saying, "You do know that this is going to go on your driving record, right?"

When I protested, he said, "An accident is an accident whether you're at fault or the victim."


Then I came home to read a blog post that depressed me even more.

In August, I did a couple of posts about the troubles Dorchester Publishing was experiencing. Rumors had been circulating for months that their writers weren't getting paid in a timely manner. Then, Dorchester sold both the frontlist and backlist titles of some of their top authors to Avon, a division of HarperCollins. That author list included titles by Christine Feehan, Marjorie Liu, Nina Bangs and Lynsay Sands.

In mid-July Dorchester was disinvited from attending the 2010 RWA Conference because of their failure to meet contractual obligations to their authors.

Finally, on August 9, they announced that, effective immediately, they were moving away from a mass market paperback format to a totally digital format with selective print-on-demand.

Ten days later they terminated Leah Hultenschmidt and Don D’Auria--two of their three editors--leaving only Chris Keeslar.

The Internet has given a voice to the feelings of the Dorchester authors: bewilderment, anger, fear, dwindling hope.

My last blog on the situation was here.

Last night, reading the post on the Smart Bitches/Trashy Books blog made me feel sick, even worse than the woman who hit-and-ran had made me feel: Dorchester Reverts Rights But Continues to Sell Digital Books.

Two authors described the experience of seeing Dorchester still selling their books even after the rights had reverted.

My first reaction was disbelief that such a thing could happen. Author Jana DeLeon described how her agent Kristin Nelson had contacted Dorchester three times since September 23rd, demanding the e-books be taken down. Dorchester has responded that they will do so, but nothing has happened to date.

Leslie Langtry, another Dorchester author and Kristin Nelson client, has a story that is equally depressing. After her rights reverted, her book Guns Will Keep Us Together was offered as a free download for the Kindle:
[They] offered it free for three weeks, despite my agent’s repeated attempts to get it taken down. GUNS debuted as the #2 free download for a while and stayed in the top ten for about a week and a half ... GUNS debuted in the top ten on the Paid kindle bestseller list and stayed in the top 50 for a while. All of my books are still being sold by Dorchester on Amazon ...

I’ve had my rights since mid-September and to this day, Dorchester is still selling my books and profiting from them. I truly believe I won’t even see a royalty check from this.
What really ticks me off is that Amazon and B&N aren't responding either.

I just checked. Here's the Amazon listing.

Here's the B&N one.

I'm going to tweet about this. If Dorchester won't respond, maybe enough Internet outrage will force Amazon and B&N to do so.

Go here to read the whole story.



Maria Zannini said...

Holy cow! Why does it go on YOUR driving record if it was the other guy who hit and run?

I know you're out and about. Call me tonight or tomorrow if you have time.

Tara Maya said...

That's awful, Maya. About the accident, I mean. Dorchester's behavior was pretty much the equivalent in karmic slime.