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Dorchester Moving to Trade and Digital

Dorchester Publishing
A source from Dorchester informed me that Dorchester will be revamping its publishing house to focus on trade paperback originals and digital publishing. Digital releases will be forthcoming as scheduled by the print publications will be delayed 6 to 8 months.

In 6 to 8 months, Dorchester will begin releasing the print editions in trade paperback form. Best of luck to Dorchester and its authors.

UPDATE: PW has more news on this (Thanks for the link, Kerry)

President John Prebich said after retail sales fell by 25% in 2009, the company knew that 2010 "would be a defining year," but rather than show improvement, "sales have been worse." While returns are down, the company has had a difficult time getting its titles into stores as shelf space for mass market has been reduced, Prebich explained. Dorchester recently let its field sales force of seven go, although Tim DeYoung remains with the company as v-p of sales and marketing. The editorial team remains intact, although Prebich said the number of titles released monthly will likely be reduced from over 30 to 25. He said the schedule for 2011 is set and Dorchester has books in the pipeline through June 2012.

On the issue of submissions, I was told that they plan to continue to release original fiction and while they aren’t closed for submissions, they are revamping their submission guidelines.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and 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


  1. jan springer
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 08:39:27

    Interesting news. Thanks!


  2. TKF
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 08:55:44

    Wow. Just . . . wow. My jaw is on the floor.

  3. ME
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:02:19

    Jane, do you know what this means for all their authors with mm titles? I feel awful for my friends who pub with them.

  4. Emily Ryan-Davis
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:05:08

    Thanks for the update Jane. I’m curious about Dorchester’s plans for launching as a digital publisher (marketing, so forth). Maybe we’ll find out soon!

  5. Tiffany Clare
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:18:01

    Out of curiosity where did the official word come from? There’s been a lot of supposition on twitter with no real back up. Not to be contrary, it just seems that no one from Dorchester has said anything (as far as I know–so far).

    I feel bad for all their authors. Not sure what it really means for them. I guess we’ll know more in the coming days (?)

  6. Amy
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:38:14

    Coming out of lurkdom simply to say Wow.

  7. R. H. Rush
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:38:29

    @Tiffany Clare:

    Not sure what Jane’s source was, but it was just announced in a PW Daily email:

    According to Prebich, some e-books that are doing well in the digital marketplace will be released as trade paperbacks with IPS fulfilling orders; the company, however, will not do any more mass market paperbacks for retail distribution.

    It sounds like they’re still talking with their authors about what it’ll mean for them…

  8. Tiffany Clare
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:47:19

    @R. H. Rush:

    Well, Holy Crap! I guess that makes it completely official! Thanks for the heads up.

  9. Kerry Allen
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:52:21

    Here’s a link for the PW article.

  10. Jane
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:58:40

    @Tiffany Clare Sorry, I was on the road. I spoke with someone knowledgeable at Dorchester but the PW link has more information.

  11. Jane
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 09:59:17

    @ME My understanding is that the authors with mm titles will be released in digital and then in trade (although I don’t know if all of them are going to be released in trade or what).

  12. Sarah
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 10:03:55

    I hope those authors pubbing with Dorchester think about renegotiating their contracts. With the sales force laid off and trade PBs coming 6-8 months after digital, they’re going to have a bitch of a time earning out. *sigh*

  13. Juliana Stone
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 10:08:28

    Thanks for the info Jane. This is sad news. Dorchester pubbed some of the first romances I had the pleasure of reading, giving us names like Feehan etc.

    I feel badly for the authors under contract and hope things shake out in the end.

  14. Tweets that mention Dorchester moving to trade and digital | Dear Author --
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 10:12:10

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MarianneLaCroix, Mary Beth Lee. Mary Beth Lee said: Dorchester moving to trade and digital : […]

  15. Janet P.
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 10:16:24

    Well I can totally understand the concentration on digital publishing as it does seem to be the future.

    The Trade paperback though … not getting it. Consumers are not in a frame of mind these days to move from mmp prices to trade.

  16. R. H. Rush
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 10:37:25

    @Janet P.:

    The Trade paperback though … not getting it. Consumers are not in a frame of mind these days to move from mmp prices to trade.

    From what I understand, the trade paperbacks are being released as print-on-demand, so the benefit there to Dorchester is that they won’t be sitting on inventory that might not sell.

  17. Suze
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 10:58:40

    Wow. This actually looks like the first step toward my naive vision of publishing’s future: that electronic is the default format, with paperback as POD, and then artisan-made, hand-crafted hardcovers for collectors. I’m excited, and a little freaked out. This could change everything.

  18. helen
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 11:02:22

    Wasn’t there an article here a while back (although it might have been SB) about print on demand kiosk’s?

    I could see this working out for Dorchester. I know I have not purchased a print book since I bought the nook, nor do I intend to. I use Amazon’s and BN’s “recommend” suggestions, dearauthor, sb and Romantic Times to tell me when and what books are coming out each month and have more than enough to read. I rarely browse storefront’s anymore (though I do love the pb cookies at BN and enjoy sitting in the cafe).

  19. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 11:43:52

    There are some underlying pressures that make this inevitable.
    – the way distributors, ie bookstores, hang on to inventory and the returns model, making the publisher hold a cartload of debt.

    – The increasing concentration on the big titles. For every Harry Potter or a Twilight, there are a hundred books that didn’t make it that big. More, probably. But in the old days that was okay, because there was room in the multitudinous bookstores for them all. Now, with the supermarkets taking the biggest sales by value – not so much. Supermarkets take, say, a hundred copies of twenty titles where the bookstores would have taken one or two each of a hundred. Greater concentration on “brand leaders” means the other brands fall away and fail.
    I know a few Dorchester authors. They are presently trying to get on to their editors and find out what it means for them. They have contracts that pay tiny digital payments. With the number of contracts Dorch holds, it could make a killing when they only have to pay their authors 15% or less – of net.
    There were rumours hurtling around in some circles recently that Dorch was selling and one of the bigger epubs was interested in buying. Seems they’re taking a different way.

  20. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 11:50:27

    This should be wake-up call to authors at all the NY publishing houses to pay close attention to their digital royalty rates. Who knows which publisher will be next to go this route, especially with their midlist authors…

  21. Char
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 12:44:11

    I don’t see how this will help Dorchester, many small publishers have gone the digital and POD route to fail within a year. Of course, if, as noted above the author’s digital royalties being on net come to nothing. Of course paying the authors nothing or next and then avoiding the use of paper, ink, presspeople extra might produce some savings. This will only help if Dorchester figures out how to advertise the digital format.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to share e-books with my sister. I could see swapping e-book readers, but she reads much slower than I do. So would sharing be impossible? Would we have to buy two copies of each book if we had e-book readers? Buying two of each book would certainly raise the price of e-books.

  22. Jennifer Estep
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 13:39:05

    I feel so, so bad for all the authors involved in this. I can’t imagine how frustrated and disappointed they must be right now. To work so hard on your book and then have something like this happen … I feel so terrible for the authors. And readers too. How many great books are going to he affected/delayed/whatever by this?

    And like someone mentioned above, I just can’t see readers shelling out the money for trade books — not with the economy the way that it is and not if the books are POD and there’s a wait to get them.

    I wonder if Dorchester will give the rights back to the authors since they’re changing their business model so radically.

  23. ms bookjunkie
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 14:14:48

    Won’t somebody please think of the international reader!

    There are reasons I buy a lot of mass market paperbacks even though I own an ereader. Reasons like geo restrictions, DRM and price, to name a few. Trade paperbacks are just too expensive for me with the amount of books I buy on a budget.

    I have a feeling that Dorchester’s international market may have just shrunk to close to nothing.

  24. Kerry
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 14:51:08

    @ms bookjunkie: As another international reader totally frustrated by geo restrictions, this really worries me too.

    While I prefer to buy digital if I can, some things I have to buy in paper if I want them, generally due to geo restrictions. If there is no paper edition, I’m totally screwed and can’t buy.

  25. DS
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 14:52:03

    I can see the advantages for Dorchester in this change. It won’t affect my personal purchasing habits because I have replaced MMPBs with ebooks.

    I assume the Trades are as much for library purchase as anything. I know that my local libraries have been buying trade paperbacks and reinforcing the covers.

    The last Dorchester book I bought had a load of errors- not OCR or spell check artifacts, but wrong word use. Never did I appreciate the Kindle’s dictionary function more.

  26. MaryK
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 14:57:53

    I usually wait for trade paperbacks to come out in mass market, or I buy them used. If it was a book I was willing to pay the trade price for, I’d still hesitate to buy the POD without knowing the quality of the finished product.

  27. Ridley
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 17:11:40

    Dorchester says they’re moving to digital and trade, but they’re really just delaying the inevitable.

    They don’t have what it takes to compete with Carina, Samhain, LooseId, et al. This is the beginning of the end for them.

  28. Brian
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 17:15:38

    The smartest way for them to make this switch would be to open their own bookstore and offer their ebooks there with no DRM and multiple formats (at least ePub, Mobi and PDF). They can still sell at Amazon, B&N, etc. but if word get out that the titles can be had DRM free directly from the publisher a lot of folks will go that route and they can cut out the middle man so to speak. If Dorchester were to follow a model like Baen & Samhain for ebooks it’d be great. They’re going to have stiff competition, at least as far as Romance goes, from pubs who have been doing this for years. If they’re smart they’ve hired someone from one of those pubs to get this set up for them. They publish a lot of stuff I’d hate to see go away like the Hard Case Crime line. That could be their saving grace, they do a lot more genres (Western, Horror, Thriller, Crime, SciFi/Fantasy) than most/all of their main competition.

    Sigh, they’ll probably do it wrong though and be gone soon. :-(

  29. Tiffany
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 17:33:57

    Hmmm. I thought it cost just as much for an ebook as it does for print or so some publishers say. I think this move kind of debunks that. Someone should send this to that St Martins guy… can’t remember his name. Maybe then amazon can get back to charging what they used to charge.

  30. Brandy
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 20:29:15

    I don’t own an ereader device and have no plans to purchase one any time soon. I’ve been an avid reader of Dorchester books for years, but now? My budget does not include Trade purchases because I mostly purchase MM paperbacks. I’ll miss books from Dorchester authors, but this decision just lost them my business.

  31. R. H. Rush
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 21:19:53

    @Jennifer Estep:

    not if the books are POD and there's a wait to get them.

    It depends on how Dorchester does this, whether there will be a wait; POD is sort of an odd animal in that sense. Some POD publishers don’t have much of a sales presence with retailers, and so most of their business is through online sales. Others sell directly to retailers regardless of whether their titles are POD; the printing status is transparent to the retailer, and so it has no effect on the orders for in-store placement.

    So it’s still possible that you’ll continue to see Dorchester titles in bookstores; they’ll just be trade paperback rather than mass market.

  32. KristieJ
    Aug 06, 2010 @ 21:45:22

    Sadly I’m not surprised to hear this. For a few years now there are quite a number of Dorchester books that just aren’t stocked here in Canada. Out of curiosity, I’ve used the store locator feature to check all across the country and they haven’t been available from BC to Prince Edward Island. And Canada isn’t exactly small potatoes. So when quite a number of books aren’t available in the whole country, it’s not surprising they aren’t making a profit.
    It does make me sad though as I’ve always considered them quite innovative as to what they are willing to publish.

  33. MikiS
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 00:09:26

    Won’t this affect their standing with RWA? (For those who care).

    Also, it’ll be interesting to see what this does for their library sales…

  34. Jennifer Estep
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 06:29:02

    @R. H. Rush: Ah, I see. Thanks for explaining that. I was thinking POD was more like ordering through Amazon. You place your order then wait for the books to show up.

  35. Cindy
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 07:20:47

    Not all bookstores use Ingrams to order books, so that’s going to cut down on sales. I know lots of people who still prefer book to e-book and lots of people who don’t even know how to check e-mail. Here’s a lot of sales lost. Until they come out with an affordable e-reader that reads all formats without me jumping through hoops, I use the laptop and it ends up hurting my eyes.

    Oh and for sales being down? The bookstore I frequent uses Baker & Taylor and the July releases weren’t available there.

    It did say they would still be printing for the book club members so I guess those who can can go that way. I think that’s the way I’ll end up going. I do like trade but I resent having to wait 6 months to a year to get them and again, my bookstore doesn’t use Ingrams. And as I’ve said since the big kerfluffle with the kindle books, I’m not paying as much for an e-book as I would print that I can’t trade for credit, can’t lend or do anything with.

  36. Edie
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 07:29:31

    Oh please, please, let their digital books be geo restriction free! I will miss my dorchy books muchly. Some of my fave reads have come from that house.
    And some of the most innovative.

  37. Ivy
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 07:58:28

    I do both ereading (device & computer) and physical book reading. I do know people who refuse to buy a reader. They prefer a book.
    Has anyone seen this?
    I thought it was interesting.

  38. Phyl
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 09:00:34

    There’s a certain irony here. I’ve been trying to find an e-version of Caroline Fyffe’s July 27 Leisure release, “Montana Dawn.” It’s available in print, but I can’t find the ebook (her first book is in the Kindle store). I really want to buy this book, but I don’t want to pay for a print copy!

  39. brooksse
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 10:33:09

    I feel sorry for their authors. It might work if Dorchester was internet and ebook savvy, but from my observations Dorchester has seemed pretty clueless in that respect.

    As far as I can tell, they were late to get into the ebook game. They don’t sell ebooks through their own website, and they don’t provide links to purchase their ebooks from other retailers. Their website doesn’t even give a clue that their books are available in digital format.

    I’ve found their ebooks at major retailers like Amazon, B&N, Sony, even Waterstones, but BooksOnBoard seems to be the only independent ebook retailer to carry their ebooks. I’ve only bought two of their authors, but I haven’t been able to find them at fictionwise, powells, diesel, etc. If they want to be a successful ebook publisher, they need to be available at as many ebook retailers as possible.

  40. Char
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 10:50:28

    As has been noted before the major cost of producing a book is in having it edited and the marketing. I, for one, prefer books that have been edited. I don't enjoy reading the raw manuscripts. Marketing is how publishers sell books, not the promotion that authors do, but the marketing that actually gets those books sold. Part of that is distribution.

    Now it appears that Dorchester is dropping its established distribution. Internationally you may not have seen the US distribution, but it wasn't shabby. Dorchester books appeared in the largest of chain drugstores, known by their three initials and in Wal-mart and grocery stores. When I worked in companies with products these are the places they wanted to put them.

    Now if Dorchester plans to pay authors on net, well, getting writers for free is bound to help. Because net means after the expenses are taken. The authors will be paying the publishers expenses, clever boys.

    I won't pay trade paper back prices for a book I can read in one or two nights. I'm not paying for an ebook when you never know when Amazon might decide to take it back.

  41. TKF
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 10:55:48


    I'm still trying to figure out how to share e-books with my sister

    If you have the same kind of reader, you can probably cross-resister them (put them both on the same account, or on both your accounts). My best friend and I both have CyBooks, and this is what we did.

  42. Char
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 12:22:13

    TKF — thank you for that information. With it I'm more interested in getting a reader. Will check into Cybooks I haven't heard of them before.

    I went back to see if I could site where I found the royalty rate and couldn't find it. So my bad and apologies. I don't know where I picked up the pay on net in this particular case. Therefore we must assume it isn't true and royalties will be computed in a manner similar to print royalties.

    Does anyone know if they are planning to pay print scale royalties or digital scale royalties?

  43. TKF
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 14:04:59

    The CyBook setup is a bit complicated (and sometimes involves stripping DRM to get the books I want). But I know Amazon lets you have up to 6 devices all synced to one account, so you and your sister could both have your computer and Kindle reader on one account and share books.

  44. preeti
    Aug 07, 2010 @ 23:05:10

    Hi, can someone list a few notable authors currently published ny Dorchester? I am trying to figure out if this will affect me as a reader.

  45. Jane
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 06:40:42

    Elisabeth Naughton, Rose Lerner, Gemma Halliday? Holliday?, Angie Fox. Most of the big name authors were sold to Avon earlier this year.

  46. Cindy
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 08:16:41

    Connie Mason, Shirl Henke, Bobbi Smith, Jennifer Ashley, Constance O’Banyon, Kate Angell, Amanda Ashley, Elaine Barbieri, Nina Bangs, tons of horror and western writers.

  47. Jane
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 08:17:39

    @Cindy: Jennifer Ashley moved to Berkley. Not sure about Nina Bangs and Amanda Ashley.

  48. brooksse
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 08:43:42

    Another author is Christie Craig.

    According to the wsj article, the company that owns the Hard Case Crime imprint might move to another publisher.

  49. Cindy
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 08:47:03

    @Jane I don’t think all of Jennifer Ashley’s titles moved because book 2 of her Pride Maters series is on their publishing schedule and a Love Spell book club edition for January, I believe.

  50. preeti
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 08:48:57

    @jane @Cindy Thank you! Rose Lerner had a gem of a debut book. I sure hope we get to see more from her. The other authors are not of concern.

    Hey, are Leisure books a different company? I have recently-read copies of LJ McDonald’s Sylph books nearby. **Just checked inside page**. They are! Oh, now, that is sad. I had been recently thinking to myself how nice it was that Leisure Books seemed to take chances in the types of books it published. Was a real service to romance readers even if the authors weren’t the most polished. (I also have an older book called Blood Moon Over Bengal in my TBR pile.)

  51. Jane
    Aug 08, 2010 @ 09:55:14

    @preeti: No, Lovespell part of Dorchester.

  52. Teresa
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 08:50:11

    Re: Libraries buying the trade pbs – I can’t see it if they’re POD. That’s a pain in the butt, unless the jobbers from which the libraries buy take care of that. AND there’s an issue shelving trade pbs vs mm pbs – you can fit a lot more of the smaller format onto the racks or shelves than the larger ones and many libraries are pressed for space these days. So I don’t think libraries are their market for the trade pbs.

  53. Genrewonk » The Permanent Floating Publishing Apocalypse
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:18:24

    […] Dorchester Publishing looks at its bottom line and decides OMG we can’t afford to do this anymore, switches to e-publishing launching the Greek Chorus chanting “death of print, death of print.” […]

  54. Jennifer Ashley
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 18:10:57

    @Cindy: Sorry to post to an old thread, but saw this: The second Pride Mates book, PRIMAL BONDS, will be published by Berkley March 1, 2011. If it’s on Dorchester’s schedule–it should NOT BE! (Berkley has the ms.; I never sent it to Dorch)

    I have moved all my series to Berkley and write there now as both Jennifer Ashley and Allyson James.

    Jennifer Ashley

  55. Cindy
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 18:23:48

    Thanks Allyson. I don’t see it on there so maybe I thought I saw it there, knowing the first one came from there.

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