Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Sparrowhawk Rescued from Oblivion



Many readers of Rule of Reason and other blog sites know me best by my novels, especially the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period. This seven-title epic series has been published by MacAdam/Cage of San Francisco since 2001.

But, no more.

Without going into the many details of the contentious and often acerbic relationship I have had with the publisher, MacAdam/Cage, over the last thirteen years, I have determined, after arduous time- and energy-consuming investigation, that the publisher is no longer in existence. The California Secretary of State's records report that the company has been "merged into another company," whose identity is not noted in that department's records. The founder of the company, David Poindexter, died of cancer on April 29th, this year. The surviving principals of the company subsequently vanished, or, rather, have rendered themselves incommunicado for months, and have not acknowledged or responded to queries whether by email, telephone, or regular correspondence by me, by other authors published by MacAdam/Cage, or by anyone else.

The Better Business Bureau of Oakland, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, has reported that MacAdam/Cage has not responded to my complaint about a breach of contract and nonpayment of royalties earned from either the printed books or the e-book versions, and otherwise cannot be contacted.

There is evidence that MacAdam/Cage and its British affiliated company, MP Publishing, which published the Kindle or e-book versions of the Sparrowhawk series, are now mere "shell" entities under which the surviving principals are hiding.  

In 2011, dissatisfied with MacAdam/Cage's failure to market the series, and with its overall dilatory behavior, and because of delayed royalty payments, which the firm was contractually obligated to pay twice a year, together with providing a royalty statement, I published the series on Amazon's Kindle program. About two months later, and much to my surprise, I was informed by MP Publishing that I was in violation of contract, because MP Publishing had purchased the e-book or electronic rights to the series. This was news to me, not having been informed by MacAdam/Cage that it had sold those rights to the British company in 2009. I took down my Kindle versions of the series. I later learned that MacAdam/Cage had sold the e-book rights to MP Publishing of its entire backlist of titles, presumably to raise cash.

While I knew that MP Publishing's versions of the series were being sold on Amazon, my premise and justification for publishing my own versions were that MacAdam/Cage had already breached the three contracts I had with the firm, so leave was on my side, not MacAdam/Cage's.

MacAdam/Cage had made some disastrous business decisions, among which were the costly bidding contest with a major mainstream publisher, Random House, for the publication rights to Audrey Niffenegger's bizarre novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, which contest MacAdam/Cage won, and the publication of other novels which did not begin to recoup the costs of their publication. Niffenegger received a stupendous advance from MacAdam/Cage for her novel. She later abandoned MacAdam/Cage for another publisher who paid her even more for the rights to her future books.  

The Sparrowhawk series, however, has been a steady seller ever since publication of the first title of the series in 2001, but MacAdam/Cage over the years had never made but token and amateurish attempts to advertise or market it.

So, to make a long and depressing story short, based on the evidence that MacAdam/Cage and MP Publishing have in effect relinquished the publication rights to the Sparrowhawk series, I have reinstated my Kindle versions of them and also plan to republish the series as print-on-demand books. I am making this move because, in answer to a request to Amazon to remove MP Publishing's Kindle versions of the series, Amazon replied in the affirmative and will be culling those titles from all its venues.  Here is the text of the notification from Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, dated August 6th, 2013:

Dear Edward,

Thank you for your message.  Please be advised that we are in the process of removing the following Kindle titles from all Amazon sites:

Sparrowhawk 1 - Jack Frake ASIN: B002WC95IC
Sparrowhawk 2 - Hugh Kenrick ASIN: B002WC95IM
Sparrowhawk 3 - Caxton ASIN: B002TG443C
Sparrowhawk 4 - Empire ASIN: B002YD7VIU
Sparrowhawk 5 - Revolution ASIN: B002YD7VJ4
Sparrowhawk 6 - War ASIN: B002U0M5FQ
The Sparrowhawk Companion ASIN: B002U0M4UW
Sparrowhawk - Trilogy 1 ASIN: B003LY496I

It typically takes 2-3 days for a listing to disappear once it has been removed from our catalog. We trust this will bring this matter to a close.

Best Regards,

Regards,

Anne Tarpey
Kindle Direct Publishing

All the cited titles are MP Publishing versions. They have already been replaced by versions published by the Patrick Henry Press, that is, by me.

And that is the end of that.

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