Library rebinder Sagebrush, which had insisted that its procedure of receiving new ISBNs for paperback books it rebinds was not only legal but required, has agreed to settlement talks with the Publishers Marketing Association and its legal counsel, according to the association. The organization said it expects a meeting, and a possible resolution, as early as next month.
Some publishers also reported that Amazon.com's listings for Sagebrush titles no longer contain ISBN numbers and that photos of the books are "temporarily" unavailable. A search on the site for Sagebrush titles once turned up tens of thousands of titles, but that number has dropped dramatically since the dispute came to light. The news follows a letter to PW from a Bowker executive in which he disputed Sagebrush's contention that all new books must receive an ISBN, regardless of whether the publisher is a copyright holder.
PMA head Jan Nathan said that she remained hopeful about a settlement, though she said the group's members were still upset about Sagebrush's practices. "We had no idea that it had gotten as rampant as it had become." She added, "We don't know what will come out of [the talks]."
Sagebrush head Jim Zicarelli was unavailable for comment last week.
In August, after PW reported PMA's threat of a class-action lawsuit for copyright infringement or other damages, Sagebrush responded that acquiring new ISBNs was necessary, saying in a letter that not to do so would be a violation of the law: "Our industry operates within the rules established by existing copyright laws and all of the practices used for many years are completely legal and are well known by the publishers we buy from." PMA argued that the new ISBNs and the ease of ordering on Amazon are causing customer confusion.