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When publisher bankruptcy strikes

 

bigearthbankruptcy

A little over a month ago I posted here about the unfortunate news facing the Olive books: publisher bankruptcy (the Chapter 7 type). Few, if any, follow this blog because it is, admittedly, not used very often as a source of information. However, I’m certainly glad I posted the announcement about the bankruptcy because it did prove immensely beneficial. In fact, had I not posted here, everything I’ve put into the Olive books would likely have been lost.

Since my last post a lot has happened.

First, I was contacted by two different authors who were also published by Big Earth Publishing (Olive’s now-defunct publisher). We connected via email with a few other authors who were also caught up in this whole mess, sharing information as it became available. Had I not had the good fortune of connecting with these other authors, critical information would have never found its way to me because the publisher had an outdated address on file. Consequently I had received no direct communication from the US Bankruptcy Court in Colorado (where the publisher used to be). The first thing I did was send an official request for a change of address.

I won’t go into great detail, but suffice it to say that at this same time plans were already set in motion to destroy books being held in the publisher’s warehouse if they were not claimed and picked up by a certain date—a date that was fast approaching. The books in question at the warehouse that were those owned by the authors, not the publisher.

“Wait,” you say, “Publishers own the books—not the authors.”

That is true most of the time. However, in some cases (such as mine), authors pay to have the books printed, while the publisher assumes the role as order fulfillment and shipping clerk. This was the arrangement between the publisher and myself after I approached them in January 2016 with the idea. Prior to that I had a typical contract agreement with the publisher, but when the Olive books sold out of inventory a year ago, I was told there were no immediate plans to reprint. Perhaps this should have been a red flag, but in my assessment it seemed better to have my books in stock than not, and the printing costs were not terribly high, so I invested in the future of my own books. Once they were reprinted in February 2016, the rights to, and physical property of, the books became mine.

pulp-mill

And now my property was sitting in a warehouse, destined for the pulping facility unless I acted fast. Fortunately I did not have to arm wrestle with the attorney for the Trustee overseeing the bankruptcy case as the documentation in my possession backed up my claim for the books. But the race against the clock was now critical—I had to find a way to pick up the books at the warehouse before they were sent to a pulp mill.

Send in the Cavalry

Enter a gentleman by the name of Tom Wood, one of the other Big Earth authors. Tom works in Denver, not terribly far from the warehouse, and he generously offered to pick up any books for those of us authors in need.  I don’t think Tom imagined the quantity of Olive books at that time, but he made good on his offer. On Friday, October 14, Tom retrieved 27 boxes of Olive books (each weighing approximately 25lbs) and delivered them to his place of business. With the books safe from jaws of the pulp mill, I then reached out to a UPS store in Denver, not far from Tom’s office. Darrell Gobble, the owner of the UPS  Store #6326 (located at 757 E 20th Ave, suite 370 in Denver) graciously agreed to personally pick up the books and facilitate shipping them to me. The cost to ship the books was obviously not insignificant, but it would have been a lot more had I been forced to book a round trip flight to Denver, rented a truck or van to pick up the books, ship them, and stay in a hotel for 2 nights.

I cannot express enough thanks to Tom and Darrell for helping to get my books to me.

tradingsteelforstone

By this book while you still can.

upsstore6326

Do business at this store if you live in Denver.

What a shame

I don’t believe bankruptcy ends well for anyone, and I sympathize with all the other authors caught up in this mess. Most, if not all of them, have nothing to show for their years of hard work and passion that went into creating their books. If they happened to own—but did not pick up—their books at the warehouse on October 14th, their books have been sent to the pulp mill by now. If they did not own their books outright, they will have had the opportunity to purchase remaining inventory at an auction that ends on October 28th (but bidders won’t know if they won until the auction ends that day). And they have to pick up their books on October 31 (that doesn’t leave a lot of time to make arrangements). If this isn’t troubling enough, authors caught up in this debacle have to also worry about reversion of rights over their books. Without a publisher to revert the rights, who knows how that will be handled, and how long it will take? If their rights are not reversed, authors cannot shop around for another publisher to pick up the rights to their books. And what of unpaid royalties? I, for example, am owed more than two years back royalties, plus the share of books sold since they were printed last February under the new agreement. I don’t expect that I’ll see any of that.

bigearthpublishing-logo

No more.

I also feel badly for all the people who worked for Big Earth Publishing who were suddenly out of a job. My contact there over the years, Mira Perrizo, was always great to work with. I owe her a huge thanks for being instrumental in getting Olive published back in 2009.

So, now what?

What will become of the Olive books?  Amazon is already out of stock. Olive the Little Woolly Bugger,  Olive and The Big Stream and Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. The distributor for the books may have a few copies in stock, but I highly doubt it. A few fly shops scattered here and there may have a copy or two on their shelves but I have no way of knowing that. It won’t be long before the independent retail vultures begin listing ridiculous prices for a scant few remaining copies of the books that they happen to have (this always happens when books go out of print). Just wait and see in a month or two: prices will be laughably astronomical.

That's about 1,620 books that showed up on my doorstep.

This is what showed up on my doorstep—each box weighing over 70lbs.

I have A LOT of books on hand (1,620 give or take), but I have no intentions of getting into the business of becoming a retail book seller or even a wholesaler. I will give some books to retail shops with whom I’ve had a relationship over the years, and I will donate a lot of books to conservation and fly fishing related organizations to be used as fundraisers. And yes, I will keep stock on hand for personal use, so if you need a set of books, feel free to contact me and we may be able to work something out.

Eventually I may seek out a new publisher for the Olive series but I’m not sure about that yet.

Thank you to all who have supported Olive over the years.

Kirk Werner

 


21 thoughts on “When publisher bankruptcy strikes”

  1. Judson says:

    Kirk,

    We love “Olive the Little Woolly Bugger” and have the MFC fly box as well. The book has been read more times than I can count. My daughter reads it on her own and now 7, loves to be out on the water. I had gotten them from Elkhorn in Loveland, CO.

    I search out the other two books to complete the series.

    Wishing you the best in this turbulent time.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for the great comments. If your daughter seeks the other two books shoot me an email and we can work
      Something out: Kirk (at) itchydogproductions (dot) com

    2. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for the comment—I appreciate you taking the time. Email me if you’d like to score the other two books for your daughter. They may be very hard to find any other way.

  2. I would love to get my hands on at least a single set if possible. I manage a fly shop and have a 4 month old baby girl. I had ordered the books some time ago via Montana Fly Company, but it was already too late. Thanks in advance! Jimmy

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for the comment. Shoot me an email and we can work something out. Kirk (at) itchydogproductions (dot) com

  3. Without going into details, I know of what you speak. I’m really sorry to hear you are having to deal with this mess Kirk. Good luck and I hope Olive continues to thrive.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks buddy. In the grand scheme of things, this is just a blip. Not like a a broken down vehicle that ruined a fishing trip or nothing 😄 I appreciate having you in my court.

  4. Kirk, it’s so unfortunate to hear of your struggles when the books are so amazing. Say something humble if you must- but there is no comparison of the division spewing out of my television the instant it’s turned on vs. the kind messages flowing from your work. At it reaches the target audience at such a critical point; our children and teaching them young. I hope you find a way to continue to share this work and if possible or so inspired… to expand on it and reach more. (And hopefully this time and rightfully so to your benefit for your hard work).

    Too many words to say a simple “thank you”, but cannot underscore it enough.

    Thanks and see you on the high ground.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      I appreciate the good thought, amigo, and the support over the years. Whatever holds for the future of Olive is anyone’s guess—for now at least 1,620 more kids will get a chance to “meet” her!

  5. Poppy Cummins says:

    Thank you for the update. The Olive books are awesome.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks, Poppy. I appreciate you supporting Olive over the years and giving out books to kids.

  6. Donna Broers says:

    Amazing how everything fell into place and you were able to get what was left of Olives books back, thanks to some great help along the way. You never know what the future may hold for Olive. Thanks for sharing the update Kirk.

    1. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for the note, Donna. Yeah, it was quite amazing that things fell in place as they did, with the help from people with no skin in the game and a willingness to go the extra mile.

  7. Joe Mathis says:

    Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I just happened on a FB post that led me here. I have the entire series saved in an Amazon wishlist for my wife for Christmas. I would have been so disappointed. Please contact me at Joe@fireholeoutdoors.com as I would like the entire series if available.

    Thanks, Kirk!

    Best,
    Joe

  8. John C Frank says:

    Kirk, I’m glad that you were able to rescue your books. Maybe it’s not surprising, but there were not many bidders at the auction sale of Big Earth’s inventory. After I successfully bid and made arrangements for pick-up and shipment through Packed with Care, a Denver area firm, all of the remaining 600 plus copies of my book are now safely in my home office.
    Good luck on marketing, and don’t forget to file a claim for back royalties with the bankruptcy court. –John

  9. Marjorie E. Miller says:

    Kirk, why not sell the books on Amazon? You would have to ship them yourself as ordered, but it’s not a big deal. You can easily setup a Publisher’s account on the Zon and keep the books for sale. They’re your property to do with as you wish.

    Wishing you the best, Marjorie Miller
    Yellow Cat Publishing

    1. Marjorie E. Miller says:

      PS I will add that, as a publisher, I received notice of the auction. They had over 300,000 books in their warehouse. Just curious to know how many were remaindered or shredded. What a shame, as they had some really great books. My company has gone 100% to ebooks and audio and even though we still have print books, we won’t reprint any when they’re all sold. Such is the wave of the future and I encourage all authors to go indie – you get to determine your own future and keep most of the money. No need to ever deal with situations like this.

      1. Kirk Werner says:

        It’s my hunch that the majority of the books found their way to a pulping facility, unfortunately. I know a small handful of authors that purchased their books at auction and retrieved what they could, but I fear the worst for so many others.

    2. Kirk Werner says:

      Thanks for the comments, Marjorie. I’m holding off of entering into the Amazon thing for a while as I figure out what exactly my long term plans are. Fortunately the distributor of the books is still listing them in their catalog so retailers who purchase through this distributor and have carried the books in the past, can still do so. What I really don’t want to do is become an order fulfillment and shipping clerk 😉

      1. Marjorie E. Miller says:

        Yes, you do have to process your own orders with Amazon. Best of luck – it’s a great series of books.

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