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March 29, 2011

Whither Dorchester?
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:15 PM * 61 comments

Dorchester Publishing: Leisure Books; Love Spell Books. They call themselves “the oldest independent mass-market publisher in America,” (founded 1971). Great editors. Great distribution. Really strong in paranormal and futuristic romances. One of the last markets for horror and westerns. Advances and royalties a bit on the low side, maybe, but they sold a lot of books. And they had some star talent: Stephen King published The Colorado Kid through their Hard Case Crime imprint.

Nice people. Really professional.

Then: 2008. Rumors start spreading that Dorchester is deferring royalty payments until 2009. Advances are rumored to be not only small, but … late.

2009. Rumors that Dorchester isn’t answering phone calls or emails from its authors. Some haven’t been able to get through to their editors in months. Rumors that Dorchester is planning to start e-publishing.

January, 2010. News. Dorchester has sold some of its backlist—and some of its frontlist—to Avon. Assorted Cassandras notice that the authors who are being sold to Avon coincidentally are the NYT best-sellers and authors with major agents. Small groups of the remaining Dorchester authors begin to gather and mutter among themselves. There’s talk that checks from Dorchester’s magazine-publishing arm (the Trues; True Romance et al.) are bouncing.

February, 2010: Dorchester announces its “Publisher’s Pledge”:

“Publisher’s Pledge is a reaffirmation of the business model Dorchester has always prided itself on,” stated Brooke Borneman, Director of Sales and Marketing. “Our strength has been identifying emerging voices and trends in the industry rather than chasing bestsellers. Our intent is to reestablish ourselves in the market as the publisher authors and agents turn to first to introduce new talent. Dorchester has proven countless times—through our innovative marketing, tireless dedication and willingness to take chances—that we are uniquely qualified for this special and vital niche. This program represents our commitment—our pledge, if you will—to everyone in the book publishing community.”

Launching in April 2010, the Publisher’s Pledge program will be supported by online and national print advertising; bookstore mailings; press release and ARC campaigns to media, reviewers, bloggers, retailers, libraries and consumers; lead features in bookseller, library and consumer e-newsletters; consumer contests and buzz campaigns through social networking sites; and a money-back guarantee for readers.

Authors are not reassured.

July, 2010: Rumor is that all editor appointments, workshops, and spotlights on Dorchester at the RWA conference have been canceled: Dorchester Dis-invited from RWA

August, 2010: Authors are stunned to get an email saying that, effective 01 September 2010, Dorchester will cease mass market publication in favor of e-books and digital printing.

Dear Authors & Agents,

Given the many changes in the publishing industry over the last several years, Dorchester has made the decision to more tightly focus its distribution models so that we may fully capitalize on the most profitable emerging technologies.

Starting with September titles, we will be moving from mass-market to trade paperback format. This will delay new releases roughly 6-8 months, but it will also open many new and more efficient sales channels.

And we’re pleased to say all titles will be available in ebook format as originally scheduled. The substantial growth we’ve seen in the digital market in such a short period—combined with the decline of the mass-market business—convinced us that we needed to fully focus our resources in this segment sooner rather than later.

Inventory for backlist titles is currently in the process of transition to a new warehouse from which all reorders will continue to be fulfilled.

Dorchester has always been known as a company ahead of the curve and willing to take risks. As bookstores are allocating the bulk of their capital to the digital business, it only makes sense that we do the same. Everyone keeps hearing that the industry has to change if it’s going to survive. We’re excited to be at the forefront of that change and will continue to keep you posted on further developments.

E-book enthusiasts are jubilant; their predictions of the future of publishing are coming true! Dorchester is leading the revolution! Others are not so sure. Some authors whose books were rejected by Dorchester wipe their brows and talk about “dodging a bullet.”

Publishers Weekly picks up the story: Dorchester Drops Mass Market Publishing for E-Book/POD Model

The big news from the PW article, hidden in a subordinate paragraph: Dorchester has fired its sales force.

Authors, still huddled in corners, begin to wonder aloud whether “leading the revolution” might be a euphemism for “circling the drain.” Smart Bitches, Trashy Books speculates: Dorchester Does Digital, Authors Do What?

The Wall Street Journal is confused, but tries valiantly to figure out publishing.

Some authors, Mr. Prebich conceded, may be unhappy if their titles are available only via e-books and print-on-demand, but he said that so far the response has “been receptive to what we’re doing.”

Hold that thought.

A couple of days later, at PW: Confusion, Backtracking at Dorchester After ‘All Digital’ Headlines

Is Dorchester going all digital? Leah Hultenschmidt, editorial director at the publisher, said headlines from last week that emphasized the company’s move away from mass market paperback to a largely e-book program miscontrued the situation. “It’s true Dorchester is going digital, but only for the next six months,” Hultenschmidt explained. Her comment comes after Dorchester said late last week that it would be dropping its mass market publishing program, releasing all its titles in e-book format and publishing select books via print-on-demand.
Confusion, yes, as company spokespersons directly contradict one another.

Still later in August, authors learn that Dorchester hasn’t just fired its sales force. They’ve let all-but-one of the editors go. And there’s More Bad News From Leisure:

Worse, from what I’ve been told, the company is apparently not filling orders to vendors, bookstores or authors. I’ve seen this personally over the last week. In the past, authors could call the warehouse and order a box of their books to take along to conventions, etc. Last week, the warehouse staff was informed that no orders were to be shipped — not to bookstores. Not to distributors. And not to authors or other vendors. Insiders tell me three different reasons were given for this, including that the company “was switching warehouses” and “was taking inventory.”

Authors start to talk about dead-pools, and the words “six months” are frequently heard. Some of the optimists give them a year. Authors Speak on the Dorchester Shakeup.

The next day, authors learn that, the very same week Dorchester announced they were going all-digital, they’d let their digital director go: Don’t Have To Tell You What This Portends

The slapping sound you hear is authors face-palming. Some of the authors who gave Dorchester a year try to change their bets.

September, 2010: The September releases are announced, all of them “out of stock.” But there’s no hint of where or how to get e-versions of those titles. Rumors fly that “All Dorchester-Leisure titles are being returned by Borders, B&N, etc. Horror, romance, western, ALL TITLES. ” Author Brian Keene mentions this; he also says:

The other big news I announced at Horrorfind is that I’ve reached an agreement with Leisure Books/Dorchester Publishing for the return of my back-list (The Rising, City of the Dead, The Conqueror Worms, Ghoul, Dead Sea, Dark Hollow, Ghost Walk, Castaways, Urban Gothic, Darkness of the Edge of Town and A Gathering of Crows). Print rights reverted back to me today. Digital rights will revert back to me on December 31st. What this means for you, the reader, is that all of those books will be disappearing from your local bookstore very soon. The publisher can sell off their remaining stock, but can’t print more copies. So if you’ve been waiting to purchase one, you’d better do it soon.
Pay attention to the “digital rights.” They’ll be important soon.

Still in September rumor says that, up in Canada, older Dorchester titles are all “unavailable” on Chapters’ website. New Dorchester titles are reportedly not even listed. Some authors report getting reversion letters on their books. Some are stilled owed thousands in back-royalties with no indication when, or if, they’ll be paid.

E-book versions of at least some Dorchester titles are available. Including some titles that have reverted. Authors can’t get ahold of Dorchester to ask what’s up. Others, more experienced in e-books, say that in the e-publishing world reputation is everything, and is Dorchester aware of that fact?

By the end of September, Dorchester is giving away free e-books at B&N — including books to which they allegedly don’t own the digital rights. Some True magazine authors are reportedly being told that their lack of payment is their own fault, for failing to send invoices.

October, 2010: Authors who had submitted manuscripts three or more years before start getting rejection slips. Authors speculate that this means someone is emptying out the filing cabinets at the office. Over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: Tales of the WTF: Dorchester Reverts Rights, But Continues To Sell Digital Books

…I thought the Dorchester drama was, for the most part, over - until I received an email in my inbox from author Jana DeLeon.

DeLeon received the rights to her work from Dorchester on 15 September 2010. She even sent me a PDF of the rights reversion in case I doubted her story. She hasn’t been paid, nor has she received royalty statements in months, but now she has a bigger problem.

Over a month later, her digital books are still on sale pretty much everywhere. (Please note: links to books on sale ahoy. I’m going to do something horrible and ask you NOT to buy them. Please. Do not buy them. I have no faith that DeLeon or any Dorchester author I link to would ever see a dime.)

Her books, including “Showdown in Mudbug,” are online at Amazon.com, and there’s a paper copy available, too. Barnes & Noble also has her books for sale for the Nook, and independent retailer All Romance also has them listed for sale.

Why? Short answer: Dorchester, despite being contacted by DeLeon and her agent, Kristin Nelson, hasn’t stopped their digital distributor from selling them.

SFWA sends out an alert to members about Dorchester’s unauthorized ebook sales. The story hits Publisher’s Lunch.

MWA alerts its members as well:

Dear MWA Member:

The National Board of Mystery Writers of America voted unanimously on October 6, 2010 to remove Dorchester Publishing from our list of Approved Publishers, effective immediately, primarily because the company no longer meets two of our key criteria.

First, the initial print run by the publisher for a book-length work of fiction or nonfiction must be at least 500 copies and must be widely available in brick-and-mortar stores (not “special order” titles). In other words, print-on-demand publishers and Internet-only publishers do not qualify.

Second, the publisher must not wrongfully withhold or delay royalty payments to authors. We have been hearing an unusually high number of reports from our members of unpaid advances and withheld royalties on their Dorchester books.

Dorchester titles will no longer be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration nor will its authors be eligible for Active Status membership for any books published after October 6, 2010. The board made it clear to Dorchester that it is welcome to re-apply once these problems have been cleared up.

November, 2010: PW reports Dorchester Hires New CEO; Sets New Plan:

After rumors surfaced over the weekend that Dorchester CEO John Prebich had left the struggling publisher, PW has confirmed that Prebich is indeed out and a new CEO has been named in Robert Anthony. Anthony, who was most recently CFO and CEO at Backe Marketing, is, per a statement from the house this morning, going to “revitalize” Dorchester, which has been under fire for not paying some of its authors and changing its plans, after announcing it was moving to an all-digital list.

No one quoted in last August’s PW articles still works at Dorchester. Anthony seems to have a marketing, rather than publishing, background.

Buried in the PW story: “Also, previously unavailable backlist titles from Dorchester will now be available online at www.dorchesterpub.com.” No one wonders at that moment why the backlist titles were unavailable.

In the middle of the night, Thanksgiving weekend, Dorchester authors get an email. It includes this paragraph:

Things you should know:

. If your rights have reverted, Dorchester is still able to sell these books. A caveat of our reversion notice allows for sales of all pre-existing stock. Be assured that we are not going back to press on any of these books in order to sell them at a discount.

What no one thinks to ask at the time is exactly what a “pre-existing stock” of an ebook might be.

Subscribers to the Trues get this notice from their distributor:

The publisher of True Story and the other True titles has informed us there will be a delay in printing their December 2010 Issue. This will cause the magazine to be delivered up to 4 weeks late; however, you will still receive the full term of your subscription.
The following magazines will be affected:
True Story
True Romance
True Confessions
True Love

We apologize for the inconvenience.

True Story, 91 years old, reportedly has 250,000 paid subscribers.

December 2010: SFWA puts Dorchester on probation.

January 2011: Some of Dorchester’s magazines are up for sale.

February, 2011: The Trues are up for sale.

March 23, 2011: Dorchester announces a contest:

Dorchester is building its upcoming pub list, and along with all the great new genre fiction filling the pipeline, we’ll be releasing the best of our backlist in e-book format. But we need your help!

Be part of the process and help us select which backlist titles will be released! Send us between 10 and 20 titles that you want to see in E-book and be entered to win $25 worth of e-books from the Dorchester Web site!

Perhaps your favorite series is missing a few titles. Or your favorite author’s early works were published before e-books were even a possibility. No matter the reason, if you’re looking for a Dorchester title in e-book format and it’s not yet available, let us know. We want to hear from you, the reader, and make our upcoming list of releases the best it can be!

Exactly how they’re going to get the electronic rights for books that came out before e-books were even a possibility isn’t specified.

Some Dorchester/Leisure authors are less-than-thrilled: Stand Up And Fight.

Howdy -

I think this is a GREAT idea! But do you know what would be an even BETTER idea? If you gave back the rights to all the authors who have been waiting patiently while you guys screw around! If you do that, I’ll be a happy customer.

And the note from Dorchester got some folks thinking, and looking around at the web. They didn’t like what they saw. Various people comment on Dorchester’s Facebook page; the comments are deleted on an hourly basis.

March 24, 2011: Do you remember Brian Keene, who was going to get his digital rights reverted in December?

Dorchester wrote an email to Brian: “They asked me to ‘make a post’ stating that this wasn’t their fault and that they are ‘trying to rectify the situation’ because ‘people have been trolling the Dorchester Facebook page and posting angry notes.’ That they view their customers’ legitimate concerns as ‘trolling’ is quite telling.”

Dorchester is still selling his works even though they’ve reverted the rights. He writes a post, but it probably wasn’t what Dorchester wanted. He offers a recap (with links), and calls for a boycott of Dorchester.

Other writers pick up the call, and add their own personal testimony.

March 25, 2011: Guess What Dorchester? “It’s On” Author Stacy Dittrich wants the pirated ebooks taken down:

I will fight this to the finish at all costs, and the rest of the books will be available again and out of the hands of this corporate thief. Right now, I am using my contacts to secure an attorney who will happily file a class action suit against Dorchester publishing. I am also checking contacts at several law enforcement agencies to see if criminal charges are possible as well. Interested Dorchester authors contact me at info@stacydittrich.com so I can start compiling a list for the class action. I truly hope authors from all publishing houses publicly throw their support behind the Dorchester authors and sign Brian Keene’s petition. No writer should ever have to endure this type of treatment from a publisher.

Stacy notes that her one-day sales of a book that she put up in e-format herself, are greater than two years’ reported sales from Dorchester. She suspects shenanigans.

March 26, 2011: Jana DeLeon, the Dorchester author mentioned above who managed to get the e-book versions of her titles taken down last autumn because Dorchester didn’t own the digital rights, notes that her titles are back as mobile-phone apps—from Dorchester.

Today: Publishers Weekly runs Dorchester Promises to Do Right by Authors

Given Dorchester’s financial struggles last year and issues about non-payment to authors, [Dorchester CEO Bob] Anthony and [senior editor Chris] Keeslar said they understood there is skepticism about the company, but insisted that the publisher is committed to solving the problem with Keene and treating all authors fairly. Dorchester will pass along all money to Keene on e-books that were sold after rights reverted. “We’ll get him [Keene] everything that is owed to him” Keeslar said.

HWA has reportedly dis-invited Dorchester from the annual Bram Stoker Awards.

And that is where things apparently stand: Dorchester seems to be selling e-books to which they do not have the rights, and pocketing the cash. Where it will end…remains to be seen.

Here’s Dorchester-Leisure on Twitter, for those who want to see the latest.

Comments on Whither Dorchester?:
#1 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 01:45 PM:

Dumb question for legal eagles - aren't the Dorchester folks in violation of DMCA? And either committing fraud or selling stolen goods?

And if either is yes, where are they incorporated?

#2 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 01:54 PM:

I'm not certain where they're incorporated; their physical address is in New York. Reportedly some authors have had success in getting unauthorized e-books removed from sale by sending DMCA take-down notices to B&N, Amazon, and other retailers.

#3 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 03:13 PM:

Reason I ask is that a state AG, or Secretary of State, could shut them down by going after them where they're incorporated.

#4 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 03:27 PM:

... No class action?

I'm a bit surprised.

#5 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 03:35 PM:

So, what it sounds like to me:

Dorchester shipped a warehouse full of back-listed titles to a 3rd party to have them cheaply digitized. Their selling ebook editions of said back listed titles on their website and claiming that these count as disposing of the remaining catalog. Since they aren't delivering the actual hard copy backlog to any store, they can claim that they are fulfilling back orders with the ebooks and do so indefinitely, hoping no one notices.

Have I missed anything?

#6 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 03:38 PM:

Sounds like someone needs a visit from a Very Serious Officer of the Law.

(What do you bet the new president of the company uses a variant on the "Why didn't anyone tell me I couldn't do this?" defense?)

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 03:45 PM:

Stacy Dittrich is trying to put together a class action suit right now, and is talking about making a criminal complaint.

Perhaps of interest: Dorchester settled a class-action lawsuit in 1998 (brought in 1996) for underreporting and underpaying royalties, and inflating reserves-against-returns. They reportedly paid authors $950,000.

#8 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 04:30 PM:

Wow. I read through some of the links, and noticed this gem from the Stacy Dittrich post, from the email Dittrich reports the Dorchester authors received in November:

Bookstores can once again order your books [Dittrich's comment redacted], provided they are willing to do so on a non-returnable basis. Because of the caveat, depending on the number of copies they are willing to buy, they will be granted a scaling discount. They should call the Telecenter to set up orders.

That's... wow. Isn't one of the main issues with POD/vanity/scam publishers like Pblshmrc that bookstores won't carry them because A) they don't distribute through the usual channels (like Ingram) and B) they don't take returns like a "normal" publishing house?

#9 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 04:58 PM:

I believe that RT Book Reviews is no longer covering their releases any more, either. FWIW.

#10 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 05:14 PM:

Sounds like they're no longer circling the drain -- now they're down the pipes, and headed for the sewers.

#11 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 05:58 PM:

Jan 2010: There’s talk that checks from Dorchester’s magazine-publishing arm (the Trues; True Romance et al.) are bouncing.

I can confirm that one.

#12 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 05:59 PM:

I only have this third hand from a locked journal post, but a friend of mine (who writes horror, but refused to have anything to do with Dorchester after a look at their contracts) says that the Dorchester lawyers have reportedly listed their authors' rights as saleable assets in bankruptcy proceedings, thereby making everything about five more levels of unpleasant to get sorted out. Has anyone got further knowledge of that one?

#13 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 06:01 PM:

It had better be a criminal complaint, because I doubt any money will be found from a civil action (unless one can take civil action against the owners as individuals).

#14 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 06:14 PM:

How does Amazon pay publishers for ebooks? Does the publisher get paid on each transaction, or, say, monthly, in which case there might be some money to attach?

If I were an author whose works were being sold as ebooks by these guys, and I didn't have a copy, I'd be dithering between paying $10 to buy the ebook to make sure I got a copy before filing a DMCA complaint and not wanting to give them any more cash.

#15 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 06:28 PM:

Bill Stewart@14:

Amazon pays monthly based on sales (assuming that publishers have the same setup as the solo authors who use their CreateSpace POD system). As long as your ebook royalties are over $25 within a one month period, they cut you a check. If it's less than the $25 threshold, the royalties roll over until you hit the threshold.

#16 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 06:54 PM:

Yes, I would say this is one of those good cases for use of DMCA.

Going a little further, were I an author in the situation described where Dorchester was publishing e-books to which they did not have the rights, I would get lawyered up fast - because the statutory damages per offense under current US copyright law (i.e. what I could demand as a minimum) would probably add up to much more than I could have expected to receive as royalties for anything less than a massive best-seller.

... and I thought criminal damages can not be discharged during bankruptcy proceedings though I could be wrong.

#17 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 07:12 PM:

I don't know as Dorchester has filed for bankruptcy yet.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 08:03 PM:

Making their money the old-fashioned way: stealing it.

#19 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 08:08 PM:

It occurs to me that perhaps corporate law should include better provisions to protect corporate officers who "know when to fold 'em", and to let them do a clean shutdown of the company instead of this desperate thrashing.

#20 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 08:17 PM:

re rights as salable assets, IANAL, but I believe that, were they in bankruptcy, the filings would be public.

#21 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 08:27 PM:

Clifton Royston@16, the catch with lawsuits is that it only works if they have money to pay you with. It may be that the only asset you get back is the rights to your own book, unless they were sufficiently criminal that you get to pierce the corporate veil and take the CEO's house or something, but if that happens they probably owe a bunch of money to printers and such as well as authors. You could get lucky and find they were getting stupid and desperate before they ran out of money, but that's not the usual way things go.

#22 ::: Matthew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 08:52 PM:

I do agree that the US needs better laws and norms for the "dead company walking" stage of corporate life. In the UK, for instance, a company can be declared insolvent if it fails to pay a debt of over 750 pounds within three weeks, or it is proved to a court that the company is unable to discharge its obligations. US law allows management to keep a company running on promises and non-payment for a lot longer, which can end up screwing over a lot more people before things are stopped.

#23 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 08:54 PM:

From the PW article:

[CEO] Anthony acknowledged that in rebuilding Dorchester the company has had to “prioritize its cash flow.”

What that means is that they have no cash and are desperately looking for investors/buyers. Very familiar from dotcom days.

#24 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 09:13 PM:

I'm thinking that the point where they went all-digital was when the printers said, "Cash up front or no dice."

The thing that makes me wonder is why they're releasing e-books that they don't have the rights for.

Don't they have enough books under contract, don't they have enough material, that they could put out a bunch of novels without playing fast and loose? The various all-electronic publishers aren't having a lot of trouble getting submissions. What was the matter with saying "Go with God!" to all their authors who wanted their rights reverted, publishing the rest in electronic form, and opening submissions?

That's what frankly has me baffled. It's all so unnecessary.

#25 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2011, 11:40 PM:

If, as at end August 2010, Dorchester Publishing didn't have any actual editorial staff, surely it ceased being a publishing company? Possibly what's needed is a definition of key positions, tasks or criteria for various industries, and when those staff are "let go" or fall beyond a certain range, the company can no longer remain incorporated as a particular type of business (for example, a computer game programming company would need to be employing actual programmers and testers; a publishing company would need to be employing editors; a manufacturing company would need to actually have a working production line etc). As a further proviso, it might be possible to specify a balance of management vs production staff, such that when a company appears to have more people overseeing things than actually *doing* them, it might be time to call in the auditors and find out what's actually happening...

#26 ::: Erf ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 12:04 AM:

Meg @25: Wouldn't that mess with the initial setup stages, though? I don't think you could hire editors until you were incorporated. Unless companies have some sort of "starting up" status for the first X months/years (or some other metric)?

#27 ::: Rita ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 02:09 AM:

Excellent timeline! Wow! Someone finally mentions the travails of the True writers--who also have trouble getting paid. Also--March 22-- press releases went out indicating the rest of the Trues, including True Story, are on the block. One of the press releases is so unedited and garbled--it's sad. When a Trues writer calls the Dorchester offices she is told it's not true and for everyone to keep submitting stories. Huh? This writer wants to know the truth here. Writers no longer get contributor copies or subscriptions we pay for ourselves. And thousands of other subscribers also aren't getting any mags.

#28 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 03:49 AM:

Meg #25: Adding to Erf's comment, IANAL, but AFAIK there isn't any "typing" for American corporations. Whether any given corporation started out as a widget manufacturer or a public aquarium, they're free to go into publishing any time they want (assuming the board of directors agrees).

#29 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 04:09 AM:

Meg @25, David @28: As far as I'm aware, at least in most US states the situation is the same as here in the UK: the articles of incorporation of a company specify the object of the company, which traditionally was a single field of business the company should trade in, but in most cases these days is just a boilerplate catch-all that is designed to have as little restrictive effect as possible (e.g. the company I'm a director of has "the object of the company is to carry on business as a general commercial company" in its consititution).

#30 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 05:48 AM:

Whither Dorchester?

Wither, Dorchester!

#31 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 08:48 AM:

I don't want to start a witch hunt or anything, but who on earth is actually in charge of the company? Do they know what effect all this is having on their reputation and possibilities of doing business with anyone ever again?

(I suspect a reputation is an undervalued thing)

#32 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 09:07 AM:

Does the language of the criminal copyright infringement law limit itself to software? Cuz iirc you only have to peddle $2500 worth of copyrighted stuff you don't own to spend 5 years in jail.

#33 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 10:50 AM:

Jules @ 29: "(e.g. the company I'm a director of has "the object of the company is to carry on business as a general commercial company" in its consititution)"

But! But! What if the company decides that the object of the company will be to carry on life as a small dog?

(cue segue into ObSf: corporations as artificial life)

#34 ::: Brian Keene ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 12:30 PM:

For what it's worth, I've responded to Dorchester's response to PW (linked above), including new allegations and testimonials from other authors: http://www.briankeene.com/?p=6306

#35 ::: John Johnston III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 01:07 PM:

I'm the SFWA Griefcom chair, but I am writing this purely as a SFWA member. If any of you have any of your works for sale digitally in an unauthorized form at any site, then my advice to you is to stop reading this and file a DMCA notice with that site RIGHT NOW if you have not done so already. You'd be surprised at how effective those notices can be.

Best of luck to you all.

#37 ::: Dave Howell ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 01:41 PM:

Wow. I feel sorry for everybody snared in that, but especially the management at Dorchester, who've got to be panicked and desperate. To try to buy time for the company, they cut staff, but then don't have the neurowatts/second to handle everything that needs to get handled, so mistakes get made, bad decisions are decided, stuff slips by, and handbaskets start appearing all over the office.

At least when I feel morose about my publishing company's implosion and dissolution, I can console myself that it was at least a clean, graceful death, that (hopefully) didn't have much adverse affect on my personal reputation.

Ick.

#38 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 01:55 PM:

C.Wingate #36:

I'm at a loss to determine what, if anything, that fellow is arguing for or against. Perhaps he'll clarify it someday. Until then, I feel no qualms about ignoring it.

#39 ::: Cara ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 03:47 PM:

How interesting, Dorchester is now actually keeping a few negative comments, as well as a link to this article, on its Facebook wall.

#40 ::: Cara ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 04:28 PM:

Oops, I spoke too soon. Dorchester deleted comments asking when they were going to pay their authors.

#41 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 04:38 PM:

May they go the way of a certain literary agent (who just got six years in the slammer here in the UK for theft from clients and investors).

#42 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 06:32 PM:

It's my understanding that a company such as Amazon will act on a DMCA notice, because doing so protects them against being sued. And Amazon, unlike Dorchester, has enough money to be worth taking to court.

(Cynical? Moi? You bet your sweet bippy.)

#43 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2011, 09:10 PM:

Dave: You bet your sweet bippy.

Now I feel old.

#44 ::: --E ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2011, 11:22 AM:

Jim@38: I'm glad to hear (read) you say that. I wondered if my reading-comprehension circuits were on the fritz.

#45 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2011, 11:04 PM:

@37, Dave Howell: "neurowatts/second".
"Neurowatts" is already a per-second unit. (watts are energy-per-second.) Neurowatts/second would be some sort of mental acceleration.

I've tried NOT posting this. I really have.

#46 ::: Deneane Elise Clark ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2011, 12:16 AM:

1. I am a Dorchester author.
2. I have never ever had an email ignored or a question unanswered.
3. Yes, they were late on compensation with me ... for a while. They have caught up, sometimes with partial payments, but they have caught up.

Just wanted to toss some positives out there. I think they're really trying hard to remain solvent and to make everything right. Perhaps it's the hopeless romantic in me ... after all, that IS what i write. ~smile~

#47 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2011, 01:43 AM:

Deneane Elise Clark @ 46 - May your good fortune in your dealings with them continue. However, it looks like you'd be wise not to take that for granted.

#48 ::: Cara ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2011, 12:43 PM:

Small correction: the Trues didn't go up for sale until March.

http://www.foliomag.com/2011/dorchester-media-puts-remaining-magazines-block

#49 ::: Jo MacQueen: is she seeing spam? ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:00 AM:

At #49, or one of those probe thingies, perhaps? Maybe there's a deeper significance of which I'm not aware at the end of my working day...

#50 ::: Jo MacQueen: is she seeing spam? ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:03 AM:

At #49, or one of those probe thingies, perhaps?

#51 ::: Jo MacQueen: is she seeing spam? ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:04 AM:

at #49? Or one of those probe thingies? I admit there could well be a deeper significance to the above than I might be seeing at the end of the working day, but still...

#52 ::: Jo MacQueen is stymied by weirdness with her browser ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2011, 03:07 AM:

A triple post? And all slightly different, too? My apologies - the cursor just kept spinning and spinning, and I should have left it to itself, rather than try again twice.

#53 ::: tickedwriter ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 06:15 AM:

How about an update on Dorchester? Go to the Facebook page for True Story--a sister company of Dorchester Publishing--called Dorchester Media. The posts tell the story. And Dorch ignores them and still is asking for submissions and promises to pay within 60 to 90 days. But the mag writers are AGAIN reporting they haven't been paid for stories from this last summer/fall.

#56 ::: tickedwriter ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2012, 12:32 AM:

How about an update on Dorchester? Lights off. Now they are a virtual business. All sorts of corporate wangling and fraud still happening. www.briankeene.com or pubrants.blogspot.com or lindahilton.blogspot.com for more info.

#58 ::: begrudging writer ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2012, 05:42 AM:

Yes--I had lots of posts about Dorchester on my blog with information that I either experienced, confirmed or heard from reputable writers. I took them all down except one. Because as of today I am writing an ebook about Dorchester--based on my experiences, two years of hellish research and what other writers and customers are saying. Feel free to email me--both the good and bad if you want your proven statements considered for my ebook. Your name will be kept private--if requested. http://www.begrudgingwriter.blogspot.com for more information on what I am doing and who I am. NOT a money-making thing (break even thing)--just getting the word out. Go to True Story, True Confessions, Dorchester Publishing, Dorchester Publisher and True Renditions Facebook pages and see for yourself what is happening right now. Or I should say--not happening.

#59 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2012, 11:00 PM:

Latest in the on-going train wreck, from PW:

Dorchester Publishing, whose publishing program has been moribund for months, is likely to be acquired by Amazon. The e-tailer/publisher has made a bid to acquire the assets of the company and, as part of the sale, Amazon will pay all outstanding royalties owed to Dorchester authors. Through the deal, Amazon will acquire 1,900 active titles in many of the genres in which it already publishes, including romance and westerns.

Moving forward, Dorchester authors will, Amazon said, be offered the choice about how they want their titles published. An Amazon spokesperson explained: "We want all authors to be happy being a part of the Amazon Publishing family going forward and we have structured our bid so that we will only take on authors who want to join us. As part of this philosophy, if we win the bid, Dorchester has committed to revert all titles that are not assigned to us."

#60 ::: Search Engine Marketing ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2014, 04:53 AM:

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If they allow 'like' those pages and share your link there.

#61 ::: Ludens sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2014, 05:57 AM:

@60

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