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Dorchester Update

Dorchester Publishing

Received this via email:

Given the many changes in the publishing industry over the last several years, Dorchester has made the decision to more tightly focus its distribution models so that we may fully capitalize on the most profitable emerging technologies.

Starting with September titles, we will be moving from mass-market to trade paperback format. This will delay new releases roughly 6-8 months, but it will also open many new and more efficient sales channels.

And we're pleased to say all titles will be available in ebook format as originally scheduled. The substantial growth we've seen in the digital market in such a short period-‘combined with the decline of the mass-market business-‘convinced us that we needed to fully focus our resources in this segment sooner rather than later.

Dorchester has always been known as a company ahead of the curve and willing to take risks. As bookstores are allocating the bulk of their capital to the digital business, it only makes sense that we do the same. Everyone keeps hearing that the industry has to change if it's going to survive. We're excited to be at the forefront of that change and will continue to keep you posted on further developments.

And to help answer some of the questions you might have:

When will my book be coming out?
Ebook editions will be out in the month the mass-market was originally scheduled. The trade paperback will follow roughly 6-8 months after. We have tentatively rescheduled many of the Sept.-Jan. titles through June or July 2011. But we’re still working on books scheduled farther out.

Why the delay?
Some of the delay will be in reformatting the typeset mass-market so that it better fits a trade size. But most of the extra time is so that the sales force we're working with will have a chance to sell books in to the accounts. Just like mass-market, stores will be placing their orders about 4-6 months before the books are printed.

I read in an article that these are print-on-demand. Does that mean they won't be offered to the general market?
We've partnered with Ingram Publishing Services, who will be selling in books to libraries, Borders, B&N, Books a Million and all other retail and wholesale accounts that we’ve called on previously. But by having many more sales reps, we’ll also be able to target accounts, such as many independent stores, who have not ordered our books in the past. Just as for mass-market books, stores will place their orders and we will print to fill them. Books will be on the shelves for readers to browse. However, using print-on-demand technology, we will not have to keep as many books in inventory incurring warehousing fees. Books will be available for reorder just as they are now, but we will only have to print as many copies as we need instead of a minimum of 5000.

What happens to backlist titles?
We're currently in the process of changing warehouses, but once set, reorders will continue as normal. When a book goes out of stock, we will make the determination of whether to reprint-‘just as we do now. Reprints will most likely be in trade format, though we haven't completely ruled out the possibility of some staying in mass-market.

Will the prices of the ebooks reflect the trade paperback pricing or the mass market pricing?

Mass market.

Thank you for your patience and support as we make this transition.

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

41 Comments

  1. A.W.
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 08:55:44

    I’m not going to buy a trade paper version of a mm book. I buy very few trade papers, no ebooks and heaps of mm titles. I did just hit amazon and grab a few mm books from Dorchester I’ve been meaning to read, and that’s the end of my business with them. I really do feel for the authors involved here. It’s so sad.

  2. Sally
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 09:03:33

    I do not buy ebooks nor do I buy Trade books so they have lost me. I was just recently with a group of 30’s who went into the bookstore and all bought a large quantity of books. None of them buy ebooks. I believe that publishers who do not do both ebooks and mm books will lose out.

  3. Belinda
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 09:18:51

    I prefer trade, to be honest. I spend my work day at the computer and the idea of clutching a mass market in the evening makes my hands cramp. Trade is far more comfortable for me to hold, and looks nicer on my bookshelves.

    But then, that’s me.

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  5. MaryK
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 09:31:50

    @Belinda: It’s the price of trade paperbacks that I don’t like. And I wonder if their ebooks are going to reflect the old mass market price or the new trade price.

  6. Belinda
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 09:43:26

    @MaryK: If they were smart, they would make ebooks cheaper than mass market. It’s a file. With PDFs running rampant online, I feel like we can’t expect pricing to be the same as the labor-intensive print versions.

    And hopefully, if they’re able to print enough, or as technology gets better, trade will come down in price.

  7. Jane
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 09:53:05

    @Belinda I asked and it was said the ebook prices would reflect mass market rather than trade pricing.

  8. san_remo_ave
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:00:36

    The delay in trade publication is in part so their sales people can get the books into stores?

    Didn’t they just lay off all of their sales people (with the exception of the VP)? Who are they counting on, then, to sell them?

  9. Jane
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:01:59

    @san_remo_ave Ingram.

  10. Shaheen
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:07:59

    So let me get this straight, they are releasing the cheaper e-book edition at least a month earlier than the more expensive trade version? This just seems to fly in the face of all publisher wisdom!

    If what they are trying to do is move completely to ebooks in the long run, I think this is the right way to go about it.

    I hate trade paperbacks – they cost more and they don’t fit on my bookshelves and they just seem like a ripoff designed to delay my access to the mmpb that little bit longer. In the future I guess I’ll be buying their ebooks. (One more reason to get an ereader for Christmas!)

  11. Jane
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:10:22

    @Shaheen I actually think this is kind of smart. Baen does this. You can buy the digital version (sometimes an ARC) early and then the hardcover version comes out later at a greater cost. Given that the market for digital books is smaller, you get the anxious, early readers to spread the word for the larger print market.

  12. Christine M.
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:17:47

    What pisses me off is that they won’t compensate authors for the promo they’d already planned/paid for–especially those authors whose release was planned in September or October (see SBTB post on the Dorchester affair). I also bet Dorchester won’t take care of the promo for the e-releases and that the authors will have to pay for that as well. That sucks big time.

  13. Shaheen
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:22:38

    I just popped over to Dorchester to see what authors I will be missing from my collection shelves (I tend not to remember what publisher does what) and am now swearing a blue streak – Jennifer Ashley, Jayne Castle, Celeste Bradley, Lisa Kleypas – to name but a few. These are all on my automatic buy and keep forever list. Oh this is so annoying.

    @jane:

    You can buy the digital version (sometimes an ARC) early

    So does that mean it’s likely to be badly edited/formatted?

  14. Jane
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:33:26

    @Shaheen: I only bought one from Baen and it wasn’t badly edited or formatted. I read a lot of ARCs and generally don’t find that to be an issue (although with some authors, it’s astonishing the difference between the final product and that which is presented in ARC form).

    Having said that, I don’t believe Dorchester is selling ARCs in digital format. I was just using the Baen model as an example. Dorchester is selling digital books as a form of early release, somewhat like what Harlequin has been doing for nearly two years now.

    The authors that you name – those titles are backlist and not frontlist. I.e., Jayne Ann Krentz writes for Penguin as does Jennifer Ashley. Lisa Kleypas (who I think only wrote a novella for Dorchester) writes for SMP, Celeste Bradley is with Pocket.

    Most of Dorchester’s romance authors are fairly new.

  15. Shaheen
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:42:58

    @Jane:

    The authors that you name – those titles are backlist and not frontlist. I.e., Jayne Ann Krentz writes for Penguin as does Jennifer Ashley. Lisa Kleypas (who I think only wrote a novella for Dorchester) writes for SMP, Celeste Bradley is with Pocket.

    Most of Dorchester's romance authors are fairly new.

    Phew! Actually – I had just figured this out from staring at my bookshelf and realizing I have comparatively few recent releases from any Dorchester related pubs.

  16. Jesi O'Connell
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 10:57:34

    Fascinating overall. I finally got my ereader a month ago and am totally addicted to it. My house is overrun with paper books, always has been, lol. I will never stop buying certain books in paper format, but I’d already gotten much, much more selective over the years.

    E-pubbing will never totally replace paper books, but it is indeed the wave of–well, not the future, anymore, but the present. I know not everyone has or will get an ereader for a wide variety of reasons. But I do say, save the trees, stop with the pulping of mm books that get remaindered, and smart move overall, Dorchester. I bet it will eventually pay off for them and their authors, despite some of their readers being upset now. The whole situation will be very interesting to follow, in any case.

  17. Lexie C.
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 11:57:16

    I don’t mind tradepaperbacks–I have…a lot and since I tend to buy them on sale rather than straight retail price I sometimes get them cheaper than the mmpb. That said, I don’t really BUY ebooks. I read them for review, but I can think of…three authors I’ve actually bought ebooks from (Bianca D’Arc, Jeanne Savery, Lynne Connolly) two of whom I read their print books first.

    ::sigh:: Mostly I’m frustrated on a personal level because this throws off my ordering schedule. For the authors I feel horrible because this can’t be something you want to read on the internet before getting any official words.

  18. Brian
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 12:02:26

    As Baen only does a few eArc’s a year they’re perhaps not the best example. They also charge a premium on those eArcs .vs the regular ebook.

    What it sounds like Dorchester is really doing is becoming a digital first publisher like Samhain. From the sound of things that’s the type of model they’re following. It’d be nice to know if ebooks will be DRM free or not, if they’re selling them direct and if you’ll get multiple formats with your purchase if you buy direct (like Samhain does). If they’re using Ingram/Lightning Source for the ebook side as well it’ll likely be DRM infected files which would be too bad.

    I wonder then if their contracts will change as most digital firsts don’t pay an advance (or if they do it’s very small) and pay higher percentages.

  19. Burned
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 12:45:44

    I’m pretty PO’ed that the Dorchester authors got that exact same email at the very same time in the same mass mailing. You’d think they’d give us the courtesy of at least trying to inform us ahead of time instead of what amounts to a blanket press release. Then again, it’s Dorchester.

  20. TKF
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 12:57:50

    I can’t help but wonder if this also means that their eBooks will carry a Trade price tag rather than MM one?

  21. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 13:04:56

    @TKF: Everything I’ve read indicates that they are planning a price of $6.99 or so for the ebooks. Of course, the proof is in the pudding.

  22. Jane
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 13:06:55

    @TKF: Yes, the ebooks will be based on mmpb prices.

  23. Brian
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 14:43:10

    @Burned, From what I’ve read about Dorchester in the past it doesn’t sound all that surprising that they handled it this way.

  24. Ridley
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 16:09:35

    If they’re selling $6.99-7.99 DRM-encrusted ebooks then following 6-8 months later with a $14.99 trade, they’re doomed.

    They’ll run out of material as authors submit instead to either traditional publishers who have their shit together or epublishers who actually know what they’re doing with this model and have the track record to prove it.

  25. SonomaLass
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 16:38:55

    I wonder about their book clubs; will they be shifting to late-release trade books at higher prices?

  26. Cindy
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 17:30:44

    I’m wondering the same as Sonomalass. I’ve been waiting for Bobbi Smith’s Christmas release and now I have to wait until next summer for it? At twice the price? I wouldn’t mind joining their clubs, but it doesn’t look like all historical releases are in the book club (likewise, Lovespell) since there are only 2 per month.

    And I want to speak out on behalf of the customers where I work who buy Westerns. Most of these are older men who don’t even have a computer. They are screwed since Dorchester is the only publisher for them.

    They also aren’t using Baker & Taylor who we use so I won’t even be able to order them that way.

    I think they are screwed.

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  28. Caffey
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 20:07:01

    I am so upset by this. Especially for the authors. I love reading ebooks, but I know there are some that can’t due to many different reasons. And trades being so expensive and taking up more room due to height, I just delay getting them til they are in mass market but that won’t happen here. With the books being the same price as the mass market, they lost me. I loved so many of their authors and books. I can’t tell you how devastating it is to me as a reader too. And I read lots of ebooks! Its just hard to pay a full price when there’s no printing it out so it should be cheaper! I really hope they put down the price at least a buck off them for the ebooks.

  29. Caffey
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 20:10:18

    A couple more things, Anyone know what happens to the book clubs since the trades are 6 to 8 months late? They closing that? I would assume they would have to and too when does this take effect? And lastly, the books be drm free? I hope so because it limits you pretty much to a computer to read if not and my health doesn’t let me sit that long to read them and its a struggle to make the drm work in readers. I hope Dorchester comes here to visit to see all the questions readers have as well as the authors.

  30. Cindy
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 21:01:26

    I emailed their customer service in regards to the book clubs but haven’t received an answer as of yet.

  31. Caffey
    Aug 09, 2010 @ 23:10:23

    Thanks Cindy. Can you let us know here or email me what you find out? Thanks

  32. Cindy
    Aug 10, 2010 @ 08:00:39

    Sure will, Caffey, if and when I hear from them.

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  34. Deneane Clark
    Aug 10, 2010 @ 13:05:35

    Hullo, everyone. Interesting comment thread. I am a Dorchester author, and it was a shock to me, as well, although my editor called me (and, I’m pretty sure, his other authors) as soon as the news broke.

    I’m choosing to remain optimistic … in fact, I think you’ll see more mainstream publishers taking these steps with their mass market lines. Not, of course, that I’m any sort of expert.

    Adapt or die, right? ~smile~

  35. Cindy
    Aug 10, 2010 @ 16:37:59

    I heard back regarding the book clubs. They will continue in mass market but not published by Dorchester. There may be a delay in shipment during the transition. Guess I’ll get me signed up so I can keep up, lol.

  36. Bonnie Vanak
    Aug 10, 2010 @ 16:41:46

    Hi Caffey/Cathy,

    Cathy, I know what a huge Dorchester supporter you’ve been. I remember our conversations years past on the boards. I feel for you as a fellow reader. Long before Dorchester published my historicals, I was a Dorchester reader. They were the best source for westerns, a genre few publishers touch these days.

    I’m sorry you are feeling in flux. Email me and as thanks just from me for being such a loyal reader, I’ll send you the entire set of my Khamsin Egyptian books. The email is on my website, http://www.bonnievanak.com

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  40. Caffey
    Aug 18, 2010 @ 17:12:01

    Bonnie, I had to talk to a couple of my reader friends as soon as I heard about this because I know how much this is hurting the authors and some, like you, I’ve been through from the first book you published. I had tears reading about this all. I’ll write you. Thinking of you all.

  41. Tina
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 06:56:12

    I can’t believe Dorchester is making a wise decision. I love to read. And, I love books. Books are my great indulgence. I spend more on books in a year than I do on tv, movies, and music combined. Truth be told, I probably spend more on books than I do on clothes in a year. Most of those purchases are impulse buys. I buy in the grocery store,in the drugstore, in Walmart, and at two bookstore chains where I have discount cards. I seldom order books on-line. I almost never buy trade books because of their price. And, I never order ebooks. When I read, I want to be able to hold the book in my hand, not stare for another 8 hours at a computer screen. I have to believe this move by Dorchester is truly idiotic.

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