23 June 2008 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 3 comments

Potomac Books published my book The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863 in 2003. This is one of my favorite of my projects just because it deals with stuff that is seldom addressed. I also had a great deal of fun documenting cavalry operations in the Chancellorsville Campaign in putting it together.

A year ago, Potomac Books decided to remainder the rest of the hardcover inventory of the book and to let the hardcover version go out of print. I didn’t agree with the decision, but nobody asked for my opinion, and more importantly, nobody gave a damn about my opinion. However, at that time, I was assured that the softcover version was still selling well and that it would not be permitted to go out of print. So far, that part has been true. It is still in print. Which is too bad. I will explain the reasons why I wish it wasn’t.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that Amazon.com resellers are selling the softcover edition of the book at the sorts of prices one would expect of a book that’s been remaindered. You can buy a brand new copy for about $5 on the Amazon.com marketplace. At the same time, the book is still for sale at retail prices on Amazon.com and at a slight reduction on the Potomac Books site.

When I called the marketing director today, he informed me that they had sold most of the remaining inventory in an “inventory reduction” sale. Allegedly, they had too much inventory, and they needed to reduce the inventory and generate cash flow. However, there are still about 100 copies in the publisher’s inventory, meaning that it’s still in print and still available.

This is the worst of all possible worlds. First, and foremost, I don’t get paid a dime of royalties on “inventory reduction” sales or on remaindering. Second, it means that as long as the book remains in print, I can’t get my publishing rights back to try to take the book to the University of Nebraska Press. In short, I’m trapped. I told Sam that if he was willing to sell the book to me for what they sold it for in the “inventory reduction” sale, I would buy all of the remaining inventory, provided that they revert my publishing rights to me as part of the deal. He said he would think about it and get back to me with an offer. Something tells me that I’m going to continue to be trapped in this miserable situation for the foreseeable future.

I’ve got a publisher that doesn’t give a damn about me or my book, but which also refuses to allow it to go out of print so I can get my publishing rights back. Tomorrow, per my rights under the contract, I will compose a letter requesting that the rights to both the hardcover and softcover editions of the book be reverted to me the moment it goes out of print. My only hope here is that Sam will make a deal with me to buy the remaining inventory very soon so that I can get my rights back.

There are aspects of the publishing business that suck massively.

Scridb filter


  1. Lanny Thomas Tanton
    Mon 23rd Jun 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Dear Eric,

    The great British Bible expositor and scholar of a previous generation, W. H. Griffith-Thomas, once commented that Barabbas was a publisher (Barabbas was the thief that was released by Pilate in the place of Jesus at his crucifixion).

    Keep smilin’ friend,

    Best wishes always,
    Lanny Thomas Tanton

  2. Keith Toney
    Tue 24th Jun 2008 at 10:13 am

    Ya know, I’m not sure if it makes me feel better or worse about my experiences to find out even a lawyer can get screwed by a publisher…

  3. Tue 24th Jun 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Alright fellas, let’s not pile on publishers, especially if it helps make attorneys look better. (And I happen to be both–God help me. LOL)

    I have heard of “inventory reduction” sales, but that usually means selling a book for a reasonable discounted price to move more copies than usual–and not, as it seems here, another name for “remainder” and perhaps to get around notifying the author accordingly.

    I have not seen Eric’s contract, but he should be entitled to royalties for the copies sold in that manner (Inv Red), Potomac Books should sell him the 100 copies left at remainder prices, and then it should revert his IP rights back to him.

    Dumping hundreds of copies into the free market, and then holding back 100, effectively cuts the author off at the knees. That, simply put, is not right.

    Best Regards,

    Theodore P. Savas
    Savas Beatie LLC
    989 Governor Drive, Suite 102
    El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
    916.941.6896 (Voice)
    916-941.6895 (Fax)

    Join us online for some publishing blogspeak at
    http://www.savasbeatie.blogspot.com and http://savasbeatiemarketing.blogspot.com/

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