When publisher bankruptcy strikes
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with these other authors, critical information would have never found its way to me because the publisher had an outdated address on file.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.