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Freight asks authors to buy own books

From The Bookseller:

Troubled publisher Freight Books has been accused of “rubbing salt in the wound” by sending an email to writers asking if they wanted to buy their own books.

Founded as an imprint of Freight Design in 2011 by Davinder Samrai and Adrian Searle, operations at publisher Freight Books have been thrown into disarray since the abrupt departure of Searle in April due to “irreconcilable differences over strategic direction”.

Last month, authors and agents called on Freight Books to provide more transparency about its financial status after it emerged its writers had not been paid for several months. It has also been reported that Freight has been in talks to sell the book side of the business, following an “unsolicited” request to buy the press, but last month the publisher was taken to court by Glasgow-based printing company Bell and Bain Printers over unpaid work dating back to the beginning of the year.

In an email to authors seen by The Bookseller, Samrai highlighted the “extremely uncertain” future the publisher faced and invited authors to buy their own books, saying that it “may be possible to set stock against any monies you are owed”.

Samrai said that during a “recent legal process”, it was explained that should the court’s decision go against him or Freight Books, then “matters relating to Freight Books […] could be taken out of my hands”.

“If you would like to buy stock of your titles, it may be prudent to act sooner rather than later”, Samrai said. “I appreciate this may cause unease but depending on quantities, I may be able to supply at a better discount than the regular author discount. If you would like to secure books – please email me your requests and I’ll do all I can to ensure you receive your books.

He added: “If any author is owed monies by way of royalties/advances etc. it may be possible to set stock against any monies you are owed. Also, if you are owed royalties an invoice should be submitted, in order to be registered on our accounts system (even if you not interested in books as payment).”

. . . .

A Freight author, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Bookseller: “I am utterly disgusted that a company in which so many writers put their trust thinks that selling an author discount copies of their own work can do anything but rub salt in the wound. The behaviour and mismanagement of Freight is an affront to everything the publishing industry should be about.” He added: “I for one hope I never hear of them again, and wish I had never had anything to do with them.”

Another Freight author, Alan Murray, said the offer was “a bit bonkers”. He said: “Authors who have not been paid are offered their own books at a discount – presumably allowing revenue raised to pay authors (and others) who haven’t been paid and whose contracts have probably been breached. Thanks, but no thanks. Count me right out.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

PG wonders if this story should be catalogued under “How Publishers Nurture Authors”.

Contracts, Non-US

13 Comments to “Freight asks authors to buy own books”

  1. If the printer has stopped printing due to nonpayment, then there may not be certain books to even buy (and thus just another scam to get a few more bucks from those foolishly trusting writers …)

  2. Getting heavily discounted copies of your books, along reversion of all rights, is probably the best deal possible here.

    It sounds like there is no money to wait for. Others are going to have first claim on what can be scraped together, and the contracts are likely to be tied up in bankruptcy court and then sold to someone else as part of the assets

    • Reversion of all rights would be great, but I don’t expect it to happen. Those rights are assets for bankruptcy, as you point out. To my cynical eye, it looks like they’re trying to dump or pay down liabilities, i.e., debts owed to authors and printers, while clinging to assets.

      • No, the best deal possible would be to send the authors all of the unsold copies of their books for free, plus reversion of the rights.

    • Reversion of rights was what I was hoping “authors buy their own books” meant. I hope the authors fight to do exactly that.

      • I hoped the same, so I reread it. No, I’m afraid he’s trying to persuade them to buy up his inventory.

        “If you would like to buy stock of your titles, it may be prudent to act sooner rather than later”, Samrai said. “I appreciate this may cause unease but depending on quantities, I may be able to supply at a better discount than the regular author discount.

        I went to the original article and searched for reversion. Zero hits. The authors are most likely going to see their rights licenses put up as bankruptcy assets.

        The other bit, about accepting books in lieu of royalties owed, might — might! — be the smartest way to go. If he goes bankrupt (and I think that’s pretty likely), author royalties are low on the schedule for repayment. There are plenty of stories of them never getting paid at all. If you had copies in hand, at least you could sell them yourself.

        • >he’s trying to persuade them to buy up his inventory

          That’s how I read it as well. This is the time to do some serious negotiating and get your rights back. Books at cost+ 10% and rights might be a worthwhile deal.

          • If they have enough inventory to sell the author to make reversion of rights more financially viable than holding those rights for the bankruptcy sale, then sure, they may go for it. Right now, its an asset that can be leveraged.

  3. It’s a pity all that literature – and “£170,000 worth of funding” from the Scottish government – can’t keep a little publishing operation afloat.

  4. If any author is owed monies by way of royalties/advances etc. it may be possible to set stock against any monies you are owed.

    Can you say ‘fraudulent transfer’? I knew you could.

  5. An offer to the authors to buy up any already printed stock of books is pretty common when a publisher is going out of business. I know Meisha Merlin did it when they were going out of business. Other wise the stock gets sold off and no royalties are paid on it any way.

  6. BOHICA! 🙁

  7. Also, if you are owed royalties an invoice should be submitted, in order to be registered on our accounts system

    Are they admitting their accounting system is so bad they don’t know how much their authors are owed?

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