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Update on Iris Print: Now with Bounced Royalty Checks

We blogged a couple of weeks ago about Iris Print and the speculations that it was closing its doors. One of the more prominent authors, Rebecca Day, had encouraged people to still buy her book Thaw that was published by Iris.

Tina, I wouldn’t say things are resolved – just that I’m reasonably confident that I’m eventually going to get some royalties from copies of Thaw that might sell as a consequence of any reviews.

Ms. Day has made a new announcement on the status of Iris Print.

The royalty check I received last week was returned by my bank for insufficient funds. I wrote Kellie yesterday, asking her to make good via Paypal, and have heard nothing.

It appears that Ms. Day will be able to get her rights back as soon as Kellie officially announces the closing of Iris Print but at this time asks people to not buy new copies of Thaw as there is no guarantee that Day will see any royalties from those sales.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

16 Comments

  1. DS
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 14:11:27

    Glad I didn’t see her response and go ahead with my purchase– she may yet get a royalty from me. Sorry that this happened.

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  2. Ann Somerville
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 17:11:34

    I just hope a canny publisher snaps this books up when it’s available because it deserves so much better than it’s had. As does the author. A bounced cheque is insult on top of injury.

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  3. Janine
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 17:15:04

    I wonder if I should hold off on reviewing this book for the time being? (I haven’t read it yet).

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  4. Emmy
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 19:48:33

    Janine, I think reviewing the book would prompt people to go buy it. It would be hard if you like Thaw to say “this is wonderful, but don’t go buy it”.

    That might be important, because there doesn’t seem to be any plans to shut Iris down. Last I heard, Queer Magic is still scheduled to be released at the end of June, and all other books are still for sale.

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  5. Janet/Robin
    Jun 12, 2008 @ 22:37:50

    I’m torn about the review issue, because *for me* a review should be about a book and a reader, not about the author, the publisher, and business issues beyond the book and its reader/reviewer. So while I understand the impulse to hold off the review (especially if the author requests it), I also think it can muddy things to get our decisions to review mixed up with the business status of a publisher. In other words, I don’t have an answer to the dilemma, but I can see it from both sides. I guess I’d only say that each reviewer has to do what feels right for her based on her own views on the reviewing process.

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  6. Janine
    Jun 13, 2008 @ 00:09:57

    I do see your points, Emmy and Janet/Robin. I would not have a problem reviewing A Strong and Sudden Thaw if it were out of print, so it’s not like I feel that the primary purpose of reviews is to make the author or the publisher money. But I’m a little more confused on the question of reviewing it (esp. if that’s against the author’s wishes) while it’s in print and being sold and the publisher is profiting but the author’s royalties are being withheld from her. Especially since we are reporting on this issue. Aren’t we talking out of both sides of our mouth then? (Not that we’ve never done that before!). I suppose another option is to write the review but link to this post and the other one, so that readers will be able to make an informed choice.

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  7. Ann Somerville
    Jun 13, 2008 @ 00:23:00

    another option is to write the review but link to this post and the other one, so that readers will be able to make an informed choice.

    Janine, that’s what I’ve done with my review on Uniquely Pleasurable – I’ve removed all links to Iris Print with a message to say cheques are bouncing, and linking to Rebecca Day’s blog post. If she succeeds in placing it elsewhere, I can update the review and post a link to the new purchase point.

    A review at this time will encourage people to buy it second-hand, which won’t benefit the author directly. On the other hand, it’ll increase buzz. Whether you review or not has to be entirely your choice.

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  8. Janet/Robin
    Jun 13, 2008 @ 21:25:00

    But I'm a little more confused on the question of reviewing it (esp. if that's against the author's wishes) while it's in print and being sold and the publisher is profiting but the author's royalties are being withheld from her. Especially since we are reporting on this issue. Aren't we talking out of both sides of our mouth then?

    Could you explain what you mean here? I don’t really see this as a conflict of interest (or whatever), because IMO the reviewing function is quite distinct from the reporting. Ultimately I think you have to do what you think is right. Obviously we do not completely ignore authors or publishers, as we accept ARCs and review requests, and we know that authors see reviews as promotional tools, regardless of how we view them. For example, when Moran’s ad hit the site, I realized that I had the book already (bought it right after it was released), and figured that perhaps now would be an opportune time to review it. But still, we each choose what we want to review and when we want to review it, even with requests and other things that come to our attention.

    So I can see it going either way with this kind of situation, because there are so many scenarios possible here (what if a review gave the author more visibility to have the book picked up by another publisher?) that you can make yourself nuts trying to anticipate what may or may not occur. Maybe it’s simple vanity, but I like to think that our reviews stand for longer than they hit the front page of the blog, and that they can serve as a resource for readers at any time. Still, though, you have to feel unfettered when you write the review, so IMO it really comes down to what ultimately works for you as the reviewer. If that means waiting, then that’s your prerogative, as is reviewing it regardless of what’s happening at the publisher.

    It’s an interesting question, though, because I wonder if this is a different situation from reviewing a book that is OOP and can only be purchased used for some exorbitant amount of money. Like the old Bourne Regency that was selling for 100 bucks on Amazon. I hadn’t really thought about whether that should have any play if I review the book, but perhaps you or others feel differently. It definitely opens up some interesting questions about the purpose and process of reviewing.

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  9. Janine
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 01:04:50

    I don’t know Robin, I am confused about this and still trying to make sense of it in my own mind. I guess the question I’m asking myself is, whether the intended audience for this article is mainly writers who might be thinking of submitting their works to Iris Print, or whether the intended audience also includes readers, who have no interest in publishing anything but are still interested in the publishing business. I tend to think it’s the latter.

    And if it’s the latter, then aren’t we, in reporting on the bounced royalty checks, possibly having the effect (whehter it’s intended or not) of discouraging readers from supporting a publisher that is not paying its authors? And if we are doing that, wouldn’t we, by reviewing the book and including, as we always do, a link for purchasing the book, possibly have the effect of encouraging readers to purchase the book and therefore support this publisher?

    That is what I meant by talking out both sides of our mouth (which of course ignores the fact that we have more than one mouth here at DA, and we frequently disagree or contradict one another).

    I guess the thoughts that are whirling in my mind right now are: What’s our stance on this issue? Do we in fact have a stance? Should we have one? Do we care if we don’t have one? Etc.

    I’m not a lawyer but I’m also wondering if the reported actions of this publisher are legal. Certainly they don’t seem ethical. I don’t want to penalize the writer for her publisher’s actions, but would I in fact, be penalizing her if I waited until she got the rights to her book back before I reviewed it? Maybe I would. Or maybe I wouldn’t. So that adds another layer of uncertainty for me.

    There is also a part of me that feels that ultimately, my decision should be about the book and about the readers and not about the author (or at least more than about the author). But as I haven’t read the book yet, it’s impossible to focus on the book and its contents rather than the author at this point.

    Color me very confused.

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  10. MaryK
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 13:19:26

    It's an interesting question, though, because I wonder if this is a different situation from reviewing a book that is OOP and can only be purchased used for some exorbitant amount of money. Like the old Bourne Regency that was selling for 100 bucks on Amazon. I hadn't really thought about whether that should have any play if I review the book, but perhaps you or others feel differently.

    The situation with A Strong and Sudden Thaw is very different, IMO, because it involves possible fraud or unethical behavior. Pricing has nothing to do with it. This seems like a backwards Cassie Edwards situation to me.

    Janine, I’ll throw out the questions that came to mind in case they’re helpful to you.

    Would you review a Cassie Edwards novel and provide a purchasing link? If there was a Cassie Edwards novel that you liked, would you review it and provide a purchasing link?

    If any author asked you not to review her book, would you agree to or disregard the request?

    There is also a part of me that feels that ultimately, my decision should be about the book and about the readers and not about the author (or at least more than about the author).

    IMO, having the book and readers as your primary focus doesn’t preclude you from taking a stand when shady dealings are involved. Personally, since the author is accessible (and has asked people not to buy the book), I’d defer to her wishes about whether or not to review it.

    Hope this helps.

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  11. Ann Somerville
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 18:44:37

    Iris Print are still selling and promoting books:
    http://kiriko-moth.livejournal.com/181918.html

    Kiriko Moth adds her voice to those wanting you not to give this company your money, directly or not.

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  12. Janine
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 19:46:59

    Would you review a Cassie Edwards novel and provide a purchasing link? If there was a Cassie Edwards novel that you liked, would you review it and provide a purchasing link?

    No. But I see the situations as somewhat different because Edwards is a relatively big name and there is already a lot of reader awareness of her books.

    Rebecca Day has a much smaller audience and the book in question here was published by a small press without much publicity or fanfare. It is possible, as Robin suggests, that giving her book greater visiblity could do good things for her career, and even if not, it would make a lot more readers aware of the existence of her book.

    If any author asked you not to review her book, would you agree to or disregard the request?

    I can’t answer that categorically one way or another. It would depend on the reasoning behind the request and on how much I wanted to review the book.

    For example, if a famous author let one of her books go out of print because she didn’t care for the book, but there was a lot of reader interest in the book and whether it was worth the $$$ it cost to buy it used on the internet, and I had the impulse to read and review such a book, I might go ahead and do it. I think readers are entitled to information about that book even if the author would not want the book publicized in any way.

    I’m of the opinion, even though I’m an aspiring author, that once one publishes something, it is in the public domain for public consumption and therefore it is fair game for readers to read and discuss it. And that includes reviewers. The author (and I realize someday that might be me) just has to deal with it.

    That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider a request not to review something, but it does mean that there’s no pre-fabricated answer to such requests. I would have to take them on a case-by-case basis.

    In general (I’m not speaking of this specific case) I think that if possible it is better for authors to let their books go once they are out in the public domain, and not try to control reviews and other responses. I know that is easier said than done, though.

    As for this Iris Print situation, I do take it very seriously which is why I’m torn about reviewing A Strong and Sudden Thaw.

    So far though, I haven’t heard Ms. Day say that she’d prefer the book not be reviewed, just that she’d prefer readers not purchase it, so I’m not even certain what her preference is in regard to reviews.

    I haven’t made any decision on this issue yet, and my TBR stack is high enough that maybe I won’t be in a hurry to read the book for a while. But I think that if I did review the book, I would at least link to this post so that readers could make an informed purchasing decision.

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  13. Ann Somerville
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 22:09:40

    And *finally* the owner of Iris Print responds:

    http://www.boyslovebooks.com/blog/few-clarifications

    I don’t like her attitude much.

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  14. Ann Somerville
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 03:03:27

    Sticking closely to the script for failing, incompetent publishers, it’s now everyone else’s fault that Kellie Lynch couldn’t run a pissup in a brewery:
    http://www.boyslovebooks.com/blog/couple-more-clarifications

    You know, I think it was better when she didn’t say anything.

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  15. Robin
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 23:35:04

    You know, I think it was better when she didn't say anything.

    LOL; isn’t it always?

    Would you review a Cassie Edwards novel and provide a purchasing link? If there was a Cassie Edwards novel that you liked, would you review it and provide a purchasing link?

    I probably wouldn’t review a Cassie Edwards novel at this point, because I could not be certain that it was really her work being reviewed. But if I had been a Cassie Edwards reader before the plagiarism story broke, I can see myself reviewing a book of hers I liked. And even knowing what I know I can’t categorically say I wouldn’t review one of her books. Because I don’t review books simply because I like them. I review for all sorts of reasons, and in many cases I’m reviewing an author I haven’t read before, because I want to try the author or because the book has been submitted for review and I figure WTH, why not read it? I think the reviewing choice is very personal, in the end.

    What's our stance on this issue? Do we in fact have a stance? Should we have one? Do we care if we don't have one? Etc.

    I must be more of a compartmentalizer in this, because I a) don’t see the news items as of the same character as the reviews, and b) don’t think that any particular stance is being advocated on behalf of the blog relative to these news items. Not that we all don’t have and sometimes express our views on them. But still, I somehow effect a separation internally between what is reported on and the reviews. Sort of like a newspaper that has an op ed and book review section, but not that formal, of course. I don’t know how others feel, but that’s how I look at it, FWIW.

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  16. Jia
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 09:55:27

    Update: Iris Print is closing its doors.

    Details here: http://www.boyslovebooks.com/comment/reply/249

    ReplyReply

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