Dorchester Publishing, a company whose track record is so scandalous (refusing to pay authors after years, refusing to abide by contracts, selling ebook titles it doesn’t have the rights to) that it has inspired a boycott, was spotted with a booth at BookExpo America. (See picture above. Booth #4549.)
Many publishing insiders I talked with were surprised that Dorchester had the guts to show up, but expressed a reluctance to confront them on the floor for their negligence — largely because the company, demonstrating its commitment to cowardice, was hiding behind young assistants who were hawking their products. It reminded me of the way very young and very inexperienced soldiers take bullets in the battlefield.
Fortunately, on Thursday morning, I spotted an older woman.
“Who’s in charge here?” I said.
Hannah Wolfson, Marketing and Promotions Coordinator for Dorchester, identified herself and demonstrated the extremely limited nature of her vocabulary.
Why hasn’t Dorchester paid its authors, some of whom have been waiting for years?
How did you cough up the several thousands of dollars for this booth when that money could have gone to paying off an author? (According to BookExpo America, the bare minimum booth size (100 square feet) costs $3,960.)
Do you have any comment beyond “no comment”?
Okay, how about this? Do you believe Dorchester to be a deadbeat?
I was then told told that Dorchester is maintaining its commitment to paying its authors. I was given no specifics on how this commitment would be upheld.
What about your vendor LibreDigital? You can’t pay them. So they won’t remove ebook titles that Dorchester doesn’t own? (Because authors are struggling, it’s difficult for them to mobilize on the class action front and uphold their rights.)
“You’re not going to get much beyond ‘no comment,’” said one of the young assistants.
Wolfson than claimed that Robert Anthony, the Dorchester CEO, would be there “this afternoon.”
“He’ll be here this afternoon.”
As of early Thursday afternoon (with only two more hours to go), Mr. Anthony has not been seen on the Jacob Javits floor. So it looks like Dorchester’s team are liars as well as deadbeats. When a CEO and his minions lack the guts to offer direct answers to vital questions, chances are that they aren’t part of a serious business.