number of people have expressed surprise to me that Wrox is out of business. Here’s
was owned by a company called Peer, which also owned Friends Of Ed, Glasshaus, and
a number of other small businesses in the “developer education” field.
made a big mistake: they failed to time
the end of the dot com bubble economy. They
ended up with massive overproduction of educational materials for developers that
suddenly were not saleable. Returns from bookstores were large, and they ended up
in big financial trouble. They managed
to keep the company afloat for a few more months, but were eventually unable to get
new loans to service the interest on their old loans, which is by definition bankruptcy.
of this happened very suddenly. I was
actually in the process of writing content for their web site and tech reviewing books
up to the day before they announced their insolvency. As
it turned out, I was pretty lucky. At
least my book was published and I was actually paid my advance, though I never received
any additional royalties. All in all,
Wrox only owed me a few thousand dollars when they went under. There
were plenty of people who had spent months writing books that were ready for the presses
— those people never saw a dime for their work.
had two main creditors. “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />They
owed the bank of
wodges of cash, and also had a large loan to AOL-Time-Warner-Netscape against all
existing stocks of their books as collateral. Under
British law (similar to American law), all creditors get their collateral when the
default happens, and everyone else (employees owed wages, authors owed royalties,
etc) gets in a line as the remaining assets are auctioned off. Unsecured
creditors like yours truly go to the end of the creditor line, and shareholders get
in line after them.
course, since Peer had millions of pounds in debt and no assets save the
existing stocks, all of which went to AOL-Time-Warner-Netscape, I didn’t even bother
getting in on the action, as there was no action to get in on.
AOL-Time-Warner-Netscape owned the book stocks, one might wonder what happened to
the royalties when they sold them. Well,
news flash: royalties are a share of profits, and no one made a dime
of profit on the sale of those books. They
were certainly all sold at a loss.
bought the rights to the dozen or so best sellers and the Wrox web site. APress
bought the rights to everything else, and may bring out APress editions of former
if you want to buy a copy of my book, you are probably out of luck. I
at APress if I can just reformat it into HTML and put it up on the web, if they don’t
want to bring out an APress edition. After
all, I didn’t write the thing to make money.
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- Jeffrey McManusIf the publisher that owns the rights to your book isn’t actually publishing it, there may be something you can do about it. Take a close look at your contract and consult with an attorney regarding this; there’s a whole series of steps you have to go through, but it essentially boils down to sending the publisher a letter and saying “put my book back in print.” If they don’t do so within a reasonable time, the rights revert back to you.
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- October 14, 2003 at 2:47 pm