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Monday Midday News Roundup: Dorchester Sells Frontlist and Backlist Titles

I’m not entirely certain what to make of this news but Dorchester has sold both frontlist and backlist titles of some of its major authors.      These titles have been acquired by Avon.   In a statement from Avon:

HarperCollins has acquired several frontlist and backlist titles from Dorchester publishing and has also extended its distribution partnership. Authors include titles from Victoria Alexander, Nina Bangs, Christine Feehan, Sandra Hill,  Marjorie M. Liu, Katie MacAlister, Lynsay Sands and CL Wilson. We are currently scheduling the Avon release of these  books, and  will sell, market and publish all  acquired titles by these authors on a go-forward basis.   We look forward to  working with these talented authors to futher grow their  brand recognition.

I’ve met people at Dorchester like the new editorial director, Leah Hultenschmidt, and they couldn’t be nicer people but rumors of Dorchester’s financial problems have existed for some time.    I wish the best for the Dorchester staff and the authors.


Paulo Coelho follows in the footsteps of Stephen Covery and allows his Portuguese titles to be exclusively sold on the Kindle platform for six months. Coelho may be best known for his international bestseller, The Alchemist. The titles will be Portuguese.


BelleBooks, a southern women’s fiction publisher started by author Deborah Smith, launched a bestselling title using Kindle and resulted in author Gayle Trent signing with Robert Gottlieb. BelleBooks offered Trent’s story for free as a promotion. It became a much downloaded Kindle book and caught the attention of Mr. Gottlieb.

I know that I saw somewhere that BelleBooks claimed that its Kindle promotions have been good for promoting sales. Found the link. Smith says that the print sales have risen generally since they started the promotion. This blog post by author Debra Dixon points out that the free Kindle giveaways are like endcaps in the bookstore. Even if they don’t earn revenue for the author, the titles rise in prominence on the list and put the authors in front of the readers.


Holiday sales at Barnes and Noble and BAMM were down. At Barnes and Noble:

Total sales for the nine weeks ended Nov. 1 fell 5 percent to $1.1 billion, while sales at stores open at least a year slipped 5.4 percent. The company now expects third-quarter earnings to range between $1.20 and $1.40 per share, instead of $1.30 to $1.50 per share.

Online sales were up for BN by 17%, which includes the nooks that were sold.

For Books a Million:

Sales for the nine-week period ended January 2, 2010, totaled $122.1 million compared with $127.9 million during the same period of fiscal 2009, a decrease of 4.5%. Comparable store sales for the period decreased 6.2% compared with the same period of fiscal 2009.


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

30 Comments

  1. Bonnie
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 17:54:16

    I know that I saw somewhere that BelleBooks claimed that its Kindle promotions have been good for promoting sales. Found the link. Smith says that the print sales have risen generally since they started the promotion. This blog post by author Debra Dixon points out that the free Kindle giveaways are like endcaps in the bookstore. Even if they don't earn revenue for the author, the titles rise in prominence on the list and put the authors in front of the reader

    Makes sense. I haven’t purchased any new books from the free book offers (yet), but I have downloaded several free ebooks.

    ReplyReply

  2. jmc
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:01:39

    @Bonnie: Same here.

    ReplyReply

  3. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:19:18

    Hmmm, I wonder what this means for Pamela Clare’s French-Indian War set series. I had heard the series was in jeopardy of not continuing.

    I hope it continues. It’s such a nice change from the usual historicals.

    ReplyReply

  4. tmb
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:24:23

    the free kindle offer of the first Lara Adrian book in her Midnight Breed series got me to buy the entire series. The Charlie Huston offers have also gotten me to buy more of his work as well.

    ReplyReply

  5. Evangeline
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:30:35

    Is the Dorchester/Avon deal similar to the ones set up by Genesis Press and Urban (Soul/Fiction/etc) with Kensington? Hmmm…would this mean Dorchester will take less of a chance with “unusual” romances and “unusual” historicals now that HC practically owns their catalog?

    ReplyReply

  6. Jayne
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 18:53:52

    @Ridley: Me too Ridley. I hate the faux brogue but I’m hooked on the series and the characters.

    ReplyReply

  7. Jane
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 19:16:43

    @Evangeline I’m kind of wondering where the Dorchester revenue will come from.

    ReplyReply

  8. Ridley
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 19:46:59

    @Jayne:

    Yeah, I don’t get the brogues either, but I am so in love with the cast that I don’t care. I want to read Wentworth’s story so bad, it’s not funny. Such a fun anti-hero he is.

    ReplyReply

  9. Eva_baby
    Jan 11, 2010 @ 20:10:21

    The free kindle offer of Yorkshire by Lynne Cnnnolly got me to buy the rest of that series and some of her other books as well. I had never heard of her before that free offer. Now I am talking her up all over the place. As it turns out, her Richard and Rose series was one of my top five rated reads last year.

    ReplyReply

  10. SarahT
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 03:02:49

    @Ridley: @Jayne: When I heard the news about Dorchester, my first thought was Pamela Clare’s historical series not continuing! I so hope they do. I’m another reader anxious for Wentworth’s story.

    ReplyReply

  11. library addict
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 03:45:28

    So is it just specific books or are these authors now under contract to HarperCollins?

    ReplyReply

  12. C.L. Wilson
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 04:52:32

    As I understand it, only the specific 8 authors were purchased as part of this deal. I’m looking forward to working with Avon on my next four books.

    ReplyReply

  13. Sayuri_x
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 10:00:56

    Speaking from a purely selfish move I’m kind of glad about the move cause now maybe we will finally get e-books of Liu’s Dirk & Steele series. *fingers crossed* And maybe UK pub dates for some of them too!

    ReplyReply

  14. Jinni Black
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 12:41:37

    The Dorchester deal makes me nervous. As all my friends are more ‘mid-list’ than not, does that mean if they weren’t acquired by Avon, it’s over for them – and their contract or their series. Something similar happened to several authors I know when Random House merged/closed various divisions last year.

    ReplyReply

  15. Jayne
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 14:09:05

    @SarahT: @Ridley: Part of me wants to see him reformed as a hero and part of me just wants him to stay an asshat. Yeah, I’m weird like that.

    ReplyReply

  16. Jane
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 14:45:46

    @Jinni Black Avon only acquired the frontlist and backlist of the named authors (although not all the backlist titles, I believe). There were 63 book contracts exchanged in that sale.

    ReplyReply

  17. Jane
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 14:50:18

    @library addict It’s specific book contracts so Avon bought all the rights that Dorchester had originally been granted by the authors for those specific books. In essence, the authors have switched publishers and are now subject to new Avon editors and Avon marketing and slotting of books for publication. It probably affects the frontlist authors the most because most publishers are scheduling their 2011 releases and 2010 is full.

    ReplyReply

  18. Angela James
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 16:56:18

    @C.L. Wilson: So your Tairen Soul series will be moving to HC? I saw your blog post earlier in the week that Leah would be your editor on the next book, so will that stay at Dorchester? I’m sorry to be so nosy, but I really love that series and want it to be successful and reach readers (and I just want to know which marketing team/editor I need to suck up to for ARCs :P )

    ReplyReply

  19. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 17:02:03

    The Dorchester deal makes me nervous. As all my friends are more ‘mid-list' than not, does that mean if they weren't acquired by Avon, it's over for them – and their contract or their series.

    I haven’t heard that Dorchester is closing or anything. Has anyone else? It looks to me like they simply unloaded some of their more expensive contracts (which should free up capitol), and probably got some money up front for the transfer of backlist rights. The fact that they needed to free up that capitol badly enough to part with authors who are also clearly some of their major earners is of course concerning . . .

    ReplyReply

  20. Alice Anderson
    Jan 12, 2010 @ 21:50:33

    Interesting news. Definitely something to watch on the Dorchester front. That’s good news about BelleBooks’ promotion increasing sales. Many authors I’ve talked to say that free reads are really working to attract new readers.

    ReplyReply

  21. Tweets that mention Monday Midday News Roundup: Dorchester Sells Frontlist and Backlist Titles | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary -- Topsy.com
    Jan 13, 2010 @ 17:37:12

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Colleen Lindsay, SmartBitches, Kassia Krozser, Jane L, Sue Grimshaw and others. Sue Grimshaw said: RT @TXbookjunkie: @SueGrimshaw backlist & frontlist. http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2010/01/11/monday-midday-news-roundup-dorchester-se … [...]

  22. Deborah Schneider
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 18:25:16

    I wonder what this means for some of us with “older” Dorchester books? My first book was with them, but I haven’t heard a thing for years.

    Maybe it’s time to ask for my rights back?

    ReplyReply

  23. Jane
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 19:47:47

    @Deborah Schneider Your contract should have some clause regarding when your rights revert.

    ReplyReply

  24. Industry News: 1/15/2010 | RWA-WF
    Jan 16, 2010 @ 21:21:29

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  25. C.L. Wilson
    Jan 22, 2010 @ 13:51:52

    @Angela James: I’m sorry I’m so late in answering this. Yes, Angela, that’s what it means. TAIREN SOUL, book 5 of the Tairen Soul series, will be an Avon release. I still don’t have a release date yet.

    ReplyReply

  26. Bronwyn
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 18:19:17

    If Avon didn’t pick up the rights to the older/further backlist and Dochester are no longer printing them, would the rights automatically come back to the author or would this also depend on the contract? It seems if the book is essentially ‘unwanted’ for further distribution, then the author should be able to do what he/she wants with it? Sorry for the ignorance…

    Bron.

    ReplyReply

  27. Jane
    Feb 06, 2010 @ 18:56:09

    @Bronwyn: It would depend on the contract. There is usually some rights reversion clause. Often it is 7-10 years out of print.

    ReplyReply

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    [...] Meadows will remain. Congratulations to David and the whole crew over at Teleread. Remember the story about the small press author whose ebook was given away for free on Kindle? She caught the eye of Robert Gottlieb and now she [...]

  29. Shouting Gorilla Book Blog » Blog Archive » Avon Buys Top Authors’ Contracts From Dorchester
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