November 7, 2007

Conservative authors sue the parent of Regnery Publishing over its deep-discount book club scheme.

The NYT reports. As if Regnery would have all those big best-sellers if they sold their tracts at full cover price in bookstores. Who are the plaintiffs? (They'd better not be scribes of the too-much-litigation genre.)
Jerome R. Corsi, Bill Gertz, Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson, Joel Mowbray and Richard Miniter state that Eagle Publishing, which owns Regnery, “orchestrates and participates in a fraudulent, deceptively concealed and self-dealing scheme to divert book sales away from retail outlets and to wholly owned subsidiary organizations within the Eagle conglomerate.”...

“They’ve structured their business essentially as a scam and are defrauding their writers,” Mr. Miniter said in an interview, “causing a tremendous rift inside the conservative community.”
A scam? A fraud? Did you not read the contract? Did you not see the structure of the business you were dealing with? Does this litigation demonstrate conservative principles?

Are you familar with the writings of Corsi, Gertz, Patterson, Mowbray and Miniter? Regnery made "best sellers" out of their books, but no doubt they're sad they haven't raked in as much as, say, Ann Coulter — who has published with Regnery and then gone on to other publishers and other contracts and is not among the plaintiffs.
[T]he publisher sells books to sister companies, including the Conservative Book Club, which then sells the books to members at discounted prices, “at, below or only marginally above its own cost of publication.” In the lawsuit the authors say they receive “little or no royalty” on these sales because their contracts specify that the publisher pays only 10 percent of the amount received by the publisher, minus costs — as opposed to 15 percent of the cover price — for the book.
Suggested titles for new conservative books by Corsi, Gertz, Patterson, Mowbray and Miniter: "A Deal Is Not a Deal," "Contracts Are Theft," "How Courts Can Help Americans Get the Money They Deserve."

Miniter said:
“It suddenly occurred to us that Regnery is making collectively jillions of dollars off of us and paying us a pittance.”
Aw, what's a conservative to do? Get a new publisher — or litigate for the deal you forgot to negotiate for? Should you suffer — while someone else profits — just because it only — suddenly! — occurred to you much later that — if the book were a big seller — you'd be jealous of the money made by the publisher that made it a big seller for you?
[Miniter] added: “Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?”
Why is Miniter sounding like a Marxist?


George M. Spencer said...

Memo to Book Authors:

Get the money upfront. As in now, today, and when the book is submitted.

Don't expect royalties.

Or anything else from any publisher.

Unknown said...

Although I'm one who thinks there are too many lawyers, I'm wondering why these guys didn't get themselves lawyers to review the contracts before signing?

Simon said...

"Does this litigation demonstrate conservative principles?"

No. Frankly it's embarrassing.

Repack Rider said...

Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

Mr. Miniter seems to be rethinking his views on tort reform. Funny how that works. He didn't have much sympathy in the past for victims of corporate rapacity.

Maybe these guys should have formed a union, or found some means of controlling the means of production before putting the product into the hands of people who did not share their self-interest.


Ignorance is Bliss said...

Rule number 1:

Never, ever enter into a deal involving a percent of the profits, unless you control the accounting.

Hey said...

This is really dumb. The authors involved should have known better, by having the contracts reviewed by outside lawyers and knowing to only bank on upfront money.

Regnery gets you massive sales, higher profile, better bookings, etc. You don't make money from Regnery, you make money from the exposure that Regnery gets you. That, and you have a much bigger impact on the discourse than a book that isn't heavily promoted and distributed.

Brent said...

I am a conservative, but all of the authors listed are too extreme for me.

And Ann Coulter, too.

Don't get me started on Tom Delay . . . .

And Bill O'Reilly is not a conservative.

And . . .
okay, that's enough.

former law student said...

I never heard of any of these guys, so I assume they're lucky not to have to sell their books out of a trunk at gun shows. They're not indentured servants; let them place their next books with more mainstream publishers.

Joe said...

Anyone who accuses a company of making "jillions" shouldn't be involved in anything actually concerning numeracy, including lawsuits.

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john said...


I think he meant to say "brazillions" of dollars. That would be a more conservative number.

Methadras said...

Ha!!! Supply side litigation. Who would have ever thought. The writer(s) should be embarrassed for bringing a suit like this. Don't fault the publisher/distributor for your crappy contractual negotiation skills.

Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

That's like those people who sign movie deals, taking a cut from net instead of the top line.

Then, after the studio has its way, everything is expensed away and accounted for.

Percentage of top line, always.

Robert Holmgren said...

Ha, the Times does a story about the financial shortcomings of Regnery a small conservative publisher. But when will we get to read about the financial stewardship of the Times in the Times?

Synova said...

Did YOU read the contract?

Is it not possible for a company who issues a contract to do so fraudulently?

I've little patience for the idea that people are supposed to hire lawyers to go through contracts that are written for the purpose of putting something over on them and if they don't then they deserve to get taken.

Dishonesty in the fine print is DISHONESTY.

A standard book contract has an advance and royalties. Most authors don't make enough, individually, to hire a lawyer to figure out if a publisher will use a seemingly reasonable aspect of the agreement to avoid reporting income that goes in the "pay royalties for this" column.

The news gets around, eventually, and it can destroy a publisher, but the authors who lost income or, sometimes, the ownership of their work *forever*, don't get that back.

Synova said...

A lawsuit, in this case, is probably the best way, win or lose, to warn other authors and agents to beware and be wary.