Writers sue Author Solutions

From today’s Publisher’s Marketplace:

Following years of complaints about Author Solutions’ business practices and the big target painted when the company was acquired by Penguin last July, those grievances have turned into a lawsuit. Writers (and customers) Kelvin James, Jodi Foster, and Terry Hardy filed suit in New York federal court on April 26, seeking $5 million in punitive damages from Author Solutions and Penguin “for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, California unfair competition law, and New York general business law.”

According to the complaint, obtained by Courthouse News but not yet available in the electronic docket, the three writers allege that Author Solutions “fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements.” This despite the company’s claim that approximately one-third of their reported $100 million in annual revenues comes from book sales.

They also charge that Author Solutions “fails to take diligent care of its authors’ works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors – errors made by the publisher, not the author” that the company profits from as “aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does.”

The suit further claims that the company’s “services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors.” Rather, “it is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.”

Moreover, the writers state in their complaint, because Author Solutions also operates under the names of other self-publishing companies they’ve bought over the past few years, including AuthorHouse, XLibris, and iUniverse, it “gives customers a deceptive impression of variety.” The suit seeks to include New York and California residents who bought a package or services from Author Solutions, in the past three to four years, respectively.

The plaintiffs are represented by Oren Giskan of Giskan, Solotaroff & Anderson; a spokesperson for Author Solutions said the companies “do not comment publically on specific legal action. We will correct the false and misleading claims made about Author Solutions in the appropriate legal forum and establish the truth.” They company adds, “We are proud of the service we provide to authors, and the quality of that service is reflected in our A rating from the Better Business Bureau.”

Interestingly, the assigned judge is Denise Cote, who continues to oversee the multitude of ebook price fixing lawsuits.

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