The remaking of Dorchester Publishing from a primarily mass market paperback publisher to one that publishes both e-books and trade paperbacks that began last fall had been going fairly well until earlier this month when author Brian Keene accused the company of selling e-books for which they no longer had the rights. To protest what he charged was Dorchester’s lack of responsiveness to his concerns, Keene began urging consumers to boycott the publisher, a movement which gained support online. In an interview Monday, Dorchester CEO Bob Anthony and senior editor Chris Keeslar said they understood Keene’s frustration, but said they are also frustrated by the situation.
Anthony said the call for a boycott is “truly regrettable and not necessary to get our attention, since he has our attention.”According to Anthony, after being notified by Keene that some sites had been selling e-books for which Dorchester had reverted the rights back to Keene, Dorchester sent suppression notices to the vendors. After Keene reported that some sites were still selling the e-books, Anthony said they sent another suppression letter telling the vendors they expected the e-books to be removed from sale. “We expected the vendors to act accordingly,” Anthony said, adding that “we respect the right of reversion.”
Given Dorchester’s financial struggles last year and issues about non-payment to authors, Anthony and 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.
Anthony acknowledged that in rebuilding Dorchester the company has had to “prioritize its cash flow.” This has resulted in not all authors being paid the money they are owed and that Dorchester had committed to pay when Anthony took over from John Prebich last November. “All authors will be paid in full,” Anthony vowed. The Keene controversy has been a setback to Dorchester’s turnaround efforts, but Keeslar said Dorchester is committed to rebuilding.