Financially troubled San Francisco independent publisher MacAdam Cage continues to struggle to stay in business. But in a recent phone interview with MacAdam Cage publisher David Poindexter, he said that after years of layoffs, a distribution change, the departure of editor-in-chief Pat Walsh and mounting complaints of nonpayment from its authors, the cash strapped house is now generating revenue and he claims to be making delayed royalty payments to MacAdam Cage authors.
Despite optimistic announcements in 2009 that the house had secured a six-figure emergency loan and that MacAdam Cage would sell a 30% stake in the company, Poindexter told PW that neither the loan nor the investor ever came through. But while Poindexter said he “took a serious financial hit personally,” to keep the house afloat, he said he believes that " we’ve survived.”
Poindexter told PW that editor-in-chief Pat Walsh has left MacAdam Cage; that the house has eliminated excessive overhead; taken over its own distribution and fulfillment (MacAdam Cage has a warehouse in Michigan); and plans to skip an admittedly skimpy spring publishing list in order to pay off debts, delayed royalties and other claims. “We’ll take that revenue and take care of authors,” Poindexter said.
It does look as though the house is slowly paying off its debts to writers, or at least some of them. Ed Cline, author of the Sparrowhawk novels, a series of historical novels focused on the roots of the American republic and set mostly in colonial America, is among a number of writers that contacted PW to complain about conditions at MacAdam Cage. Cline had complained of nonpayment since at least 2009. However, Cline said he and Poindexter had, “reached rapprochement,” in March and Cline agreed to a payment plan. He said he should receive the last payment of back-royalties in July and that MacAdam Cage retains the publishing rights to the series. Cline said he had stopped making appearances for the Sparrowhawk novels—which continue to sell, particularly to a private school in Utah which has bought more than 550 copies of the complete series to give to graduating students—to protest not receiving royalites but he said he has resumed making appearances and doing book signings.
Novelist Susan Vreeland had filed a lawsuit against the house in 2010 in a dispute over royalties for her novel Girl in Hyacinth Blue. However, according to her lawyer at the time, Lawrence Townsend, the issue has been resolved, at least partly, and he told PW that he had reclaimed the rights to the book for Vreeland. Another MacAdam Cage author, Linda Robertson, whose memoir, What Rhymes with Bastard, was originally published by HarperCollins U.K., complained that MacAdam Cage never paid Harper U.K. for the rights to book and had continued selling the book even after receiving cease and desist letters from Harper U.K. Asked about the book, Poindexter told PW that it is now out of print and its rights have reverted back HarperCollins U.K. He said the house has not been selling copies of the book and that there are no longer any copies in the MacAdam Cage warehouse.
Poindexter said MacAdam Cage will publish a “small list” in the fall of 2011 and in 2012 he planned to resume a full publishing program of about 20 books a year. While he has issued optimistic statements before about the future of MacAdam Cage, Poindexter told PW, “We've turned a corner.”