Has PublishAmerica Lost the Plot?

I have seen some crazy things in my time when reviewing author solutions services, but the current antics and communications flowing from the never-never land of PublishAmerica (PBA 135.74) really tops the lot. The following two emails were sent to PublishAmerica authors over the past few days.
First email:

“Dear author:


Sometimes a book deserves a new start.


Not labeled in book vendor databases as POD.
A low list price.
A new publisher.


Introducing:
Independence Books.


Independence Books is our new subsidiary. It is treated as an independent publisher. Not registered as POD in vendor databases. Not registered as PublishAmerica. Uniform list prices are $14.95.


Want a new start for your book? We will cause it to be published as an Independence Books title. It will receive a new ISBN and the new $14.95 list price. It will not show as POD. It will not list as PublishAmerica. ISBN-fed databases will show that your book is an Independence Books book, readily available from Independence Books.


Go to http://www.publishamerica.net/, find your softcover, add to cart, use this discount coupon: IndyBooks40. Minimum volume is 7 softcovers. For 12 or more softcovers use the IndyBooks45 coupon.


This will cause your book to be published as an Independence Books title. It will no longer be available from us as a PublishAmerica softcover. (Your book’s paperback or hardback versions, if already activated, will keep their PublishAmerica designation.) Your order today will be printed under the new Independence Books logo ( www.publishamerica.com/independence), with its new ISBN. Transfer may take up to 6-8 weeks to be completed and will be permanent. Book remains under contract with PublishAmerica. Use this coupon for your softcover only; other applications will not be processed. PublishAmerica’s online bookstore will re-list the book as an Independence Books title generally within 24 business hours. Other vendors may do so at their discretion.


Thank you.
–PublishAmerica Author Support Team”

Second email:

“Dear author:


Your book has shown no sales for more than a year.


At this time you may want to have your book’s publishing rights reverted back to you.


We can arrange that.


Go to www.publishamerica.net/product94552.html and instruct us to return the rights to you. In the Ordering Instructions box, write the title of your book. You will receive the termination documents by mail. There are no strings attached to this termination except the $99 processing fee that covers our administration costs and our de-listing obligations to vendors and/or wholesalers. You must choose a shipping option to activate your rights return instruction.


Thank you for having been a PublishAmerica author, or for sticking around if that’s what you prefer!


–PublishAmerica Author Support Team”

The first email regarding Independence Books looks like a cobbled together solution by PublishAmerica executives and hatched on the fourth of July in answer to the boardroom question – ‘Does anyone think there may be a stigma about PublishAmerica?’ Are PublishAmerica actually having a crisis of confidence? More to the point – are we watching a company slowly and incoherently self-implode?

‘Sometimes a book deserves a new start’

Why? Because PublishAmerica got it so badly wrong first time round? Is this what PublishAmerica is telling their authors? That a book imprinted with the name ‘PublishAmerica’ is a negative, and that a book marked POD on an order database stands little chance of being specially ordered in by a bookstore, let alone even being stocked on shelves?
Yes, it is all of the above. But it is also the newest ‘scheme’ hatched by PublishAmerica to extract money from their authors as the migration to this new dawn of independence can only happen, or in PublishAmerica’s words, ‘cause[d] to be published as an Independence Book’, when the author purchases a minimum of seven copies of their own book.

“PublishAmerica’s online bookstore will re-list the book as an Independence Books title generally within 24 business hours. Other vendors may do so at their discretion.”
For PublishAmerica authors – I wouldn’t count on the above. Granted the $14.95 retail price is less than previously charged ($19.95), the move is utterly baffling and follows last month’s decision to move to hardback and e-book only editions.
The second email from PublishAmerica will bring a mixture of relief and exasperation from authors.

“There are no strings attached to this termination except the $99 processing fee that covers our administration costs and our de-listing obligations to vendors and/or wholesalers.”
Yes, as with all clauses and statements beginning with the moniker ‘no strings’, you will usually find there is one. In this case, it is a $99 release/administration fee allowing an author to terminate their seven year PublishAmerica contract. It is hard to see any benefit here for authors, but then, it was always hard to see much benefit in a contract with PublishAmerica. If anything, this leaves authors more out of pocket and with a publisher unable to live with its own self-created brand, and seemingly now, without clue or direction.

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