5 Replies Latest reply on Feb 6, 2012 3:55 PM by keriflur

    Be sure your Dorchester e-books are backed up

    Doug_Pardee

      I've made a more extensive post in the Community Room, but you need to know that Dorchester Publishing will probably be out of business by the end of the month. It's quite possible that sometime between now and then, B&N will no longer be able to let you re-download your Dorchester e-books. The same for other e-book stores. So make sure you have good backups of any you want to keep.

       

      Also, buy any Dorchester titles you're interested in while you can. Once Dorchester closes down, you probably won't be able to buy any more of their e-book titles. Some of the authors will undoubtedly show up later under other publishers; some won't.

       

      Here's a link that will bring up all 569 Dorchester e-book titles that B&N currently sells: www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?store=ebook&pn=dorchester&size=90

       

      [Personally, I'm planning to get the other five books in the Gabriel Hunt series. I got the first one for free and liked it, and it was a "package" series from Dorchester so it probably won't be picked up by another publisher. I've still got some of those discounted Sony gift cards left, so I'll be getting the e-books over there even though they charge more than B&N does.]

       

        • Re: Be sure your Dorchester e-books are backed up
          keriflur

          FYI - Dorchester has been refusing to pay their authors and selling ebook editions that they do not own the rights to sell (including giving some of those books away for free).

           

          So, if you want to support the authors with books published by Dorchester, don't buy from Dorchester.  Wait until the author has another publisher, or, better yet, check in with the author for the best way to gain access to their books.

           

          http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/thousands-join-dorchester-publishing-boycott_b26464

           

          http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/blog/tales-of-the-wtf-dorchester-reverts-rights-but-continues-to-sell-digital-bo/

            • Re: Be sure your Dorchester e-books are backed up
              swan480

              It's worth mentioning that both of those links are quite old.  The Media Bistro link is from March 2011, and the blog post is from October 2010.  Do you have any more recent evidence of Dorchester failing to pay authors or selling their books after the rights have reverted?  Or did they correct the mistakes after all the noise about it last year?

                • Re: Be sure your Dorchester e-books are backed up
                  keriflur

                  swan480 wrote:

                  It's worth mentioning that both of those links are quite old.  The Media Bistro link is from March 2011, and the blog post is from October 2010.  Do you have any more recent evidence of Dorchester failing to pay authors or selling their books after the rights have reverted?  Or did they correct the mistakes after all the noise about it last year?


                  This article indicates that while Dorchester made some efforts, they have not rectified the issues:

                  http://www.sfwa.org/2012/01/report-to-sfwa-members-regarding-dorchester-publishing/

                   

                  FWIW - The SFWA is the second delisting for Dorchester, after the Mystery Writers of America delisting in 2010.  Dorchester has been failing to provide proper royalty statements, or to pay royalties, or to properly revert rights, to various degrees and to various authors since 2009.

                   

                  If you want the full backstory, just google Dorchester.

                • Re: Be sure your Dorchester e-books are backed up
                  Doug_Pardee

                  In the category of "making up a justification"...

                   

                  I did buy the five other books in the Gabriel Hunt series. This is despite being aware of the situation with unpaid royalties and unreverted rights, and definitely having a sympathy for the authors — I'm an aspiring author myself (although I'll probably never move beyond aspiring).

                   

                  Some of the factors I used to justify this purchase:

                   

                  1. The series was created by Dorchester, who doubtless owns the rights. It will probably never be released through another publisher.
                  2. For the same reason, rights reversion is almost certainly not an issue. I'm quite certain that Dorchester still retains the right to sell these titles.
                  3. Royalties are a funny thing. The first rule of royalties is not to talk about royalties. But generally, the author is given an up-front "royalty advance" against the percentage, and only a fraction of books ever "earn out" their advance. So the advance is what the author gets.
                  4. For classic "package" book series (think Nancy Drew), the author was given a pre-arranged payment on a work-for-hire basis. They produced the book, got the payment, and the packager got all of the rights. I don't know if that's the case here.
                  5. So... either the author got the advance or the contract payment, or they didn't. My buying a copy doesn't change what they're owed; it only means the company has more money which they might (ha ha) use to pay the royalties that they do owe. So I'm not making things any worse, and there's a teensy-weensy chance I'm making things better.
                  6. In the worst case, the books were written with a standard percentage/advance arrangement and all of them have earned out their advances. In that case, the authors are due additional royalties from my purchase, which they may or may not (probably not) eventually get from Dorchester. Again, royalty rates aren't openly discussed, but for the big publishers they run about 15% of list. So that's $1.04 for each of the five books (list price $6.95), each of which was written by a different author.

                  So here's where the justification comes in. Supposing the worst case (#6):

                   

                  1. Dorchester is shutting down, and the boycott no longer matters. Either the company is going to pay (some amount of) what they owe, or they aren't. Whether they sell any more e-books or not won't affect that, except that maybe they'll have some money to pay if they do sell e-books. Again, I'm not making things any worse, and there's a teensy-weensy chance I'm making things better.
                  2. And finally: I'm not going to lose sleep over whether five established authors each lose a buck (on a purchase that I made legally) because of someone else's misdeeds. If I refused to do business with every company that was known to be misbehaving, I wouldn't be able to buy much at all.

                  All of that said, I sure can't fault anyone who refuses to buy from Dorchester.

                   

                    • Re: Be sure your Dorchester e-books are backed up
                      keriflur

                      Doug_Pardee wrote:

                      In the category of "making up a justification"...

                       

                      I did buy the five other books in the Gabriel Hunt series. This is despite being aware of the situation with unpaid royalties and unreverted rights, and definitely having a sympathy for the authors — I'm an aspiring author myself (although I'll probably never move beyond aspiring).

                       

                      Some of the factors I used to justify this purchase:

                       

                      1. The series was created by Dorchester, who doubtless owns the rights. It will probably never be released through another publisher.
                      2. For the same reason, rights reversion is almost certainly not an issue. I'm quite certain that Dorchester still retains the right to sell these titles.
                      3. Royalties are a funny thing. The first rule of royalties is not to talk about royalties. But generally, the author is given an up-front "royalty advance" against the percentage, and only a fraction of books ever "earn out" their advance. So the advance is what the author gets.
                      4. For classic "package" book series (think Nancy Drew), the author was given a pre-arranged payment on a work-for-hire basis. They produced the book, got the payment, and the packager got all of the rights. I don't know if that's the case here.
                      5. So... either the author got the advance or the contract payment, or they didn't. My buying a copy doesn't change what they're owed; it only means the company has more money which they might (ha ha) use to pay the royalties that they do owe. So I'm not making things any worse, and there's a teensy-weensy chance I'm making things better.
                      6. In the worst case, the books were written with a standard percentage/advance arrangement and all of them have earned out their advances. In that case, the authors are due additional royalties from my purchase, which they may or may not (probably not) eventually get from Dorchester. Again, royalty rates aren't openly discussed, but for the big publishers they run about 15% of list. So that's $1.04 for each of the five books (list price $6.95), each of which was written by a different author.

                      So here's where the justification comes in. Supposing the worst case (#6):

                       

                      1. Dorchester is shutting down, and the boycott no longer matters. Either the company is going to pay (some amount of) what they owe, or they aren't. Whether they sell any more e-books or not won't affect that, except that maybe they'll have some money to pay if they do sell e-books. Again, I'm not making things any worse, and there's a teensy-weensy chance I'm making things better.
                      2. And finally: I'm not going to lose sleep over whether five established authors each lose a buck (on a purchase that I made legally) because of someone else's misdeeds. If I refused to do business with every company that was known to be misbehaving, I wouldn't be able to buy much at all.

                      All of that said, I sure can't fault anyone who refuses to buy from Dorchester.

                       


                      For this particular series, if it's indeed created by Dorchester (I tried to get more info but my company's website filter thinks the Hunt for Adventure site is porn), then I expect that you're right and the series won't find a home elsewhere.  No one could (IMO) fault you for buying these books.

                       

                      That said, I disagree with your justification section, if (and only if) I take it out of the context of Dorchester-created series and into a more general arena.  If an author has the rights reverted to them, they can sell the book elsewhere and actually get paid.  So, by buying from Dorchester you (the general "you") are potentially hurting the author (i.e. making things worse).  You effectively become a lost sale for that author, because you have the book and are not likely to buy it again later, when the author might actually be paid for the sale.

                       

                      As for #2, to paraphrase one of the former Dorchester authors:  "Why didn't I take legal action?  Well, as I haven't been getting paid, I'm now broke."

                       

                      Again, as I mentioned above, I don't fault you personally at all for buying these particular books.