Amazon To Acquire The Remains Of Dorchester Publishing

UPDATE: On August 30, 2012, Amazon Publishing acquired the contracts for more than 1,000 Dorchester titles. The titles will be divvied up by genre among Amazon’s appropriate imprints and will be available for purchase both digitally and in print. Authors who choose not to do business with Amazon will have their book rights reverted back to them. Philip Patrick, Business Development Director at Amazon Publishing, said of Dorchester authors: “We are happy to be able to pay their back royalties and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the Amazon Publishing family.” For more on the auction purchase and Amazon’s involvement with the Dorchester community, click here.

We’ve just heard that Amazon will likely be acquiring what remains of Dorchester Publishing. The Internet giant has made a bid to acquire the assets of the struggling publishing house — and may be paying its debts, too.

Despite Dorchester’s move to publish books in a digital-only format in 2010, the company struggled to make ends meet. Back in March they closed their physical doors after the company’s owner filed a notice of foreclosure. (You can see more about the decline of this once-flourishing publisher at author Brian Keene’s site, there he spotlights several complaints against the company and has an interesting take on the timeline of Dorchester’s decline.) But now it looks like Amazon may be the answer to Dorchester’s problems.

Amazon made a public bid on Dorchester’s backlist and customer list on June 27, according to Digital Book World, a literary blog run by agent Richard Curtis. If the deal goes through successfully, the Internet retailer-turned-publisher plans to focus on Dorchester titles in the genres that its fledgling publishing arm is already working on. The figure being tossed around is that Amazon will be picking up 1,900 titles that originally belonged to Dorchester. Our fingers are crossed that all goes as planned — and readers will soon see some old favorite titles available from Amazon.

But this news gets even sweeter for those who were unpaid Dorchester authors. Amazon plans to pay all authors owed outstanding royalties by Dorchester. The exact line in the public notice is:

"All publication contacts regarding certain literary works (collectively, the “Works”) and related outbound license agreements of DP (collectively, the “Contracts”), subject to the purchaser negotiating certain amendments with the authors of the Works in exchange for payment by Amazon Publishing of the full amount of back royalties that DP indicates is owed to those authors as of May 31, 2012…”

Which is a fancy way of saying, the authors who are owed royalties will get paid. And authors with new titles will be published by Amazon, if all the authors want to take their publishing careers in that direction. According to Publishers Weekly, an Amazon spokesperson said of the deal-in-progress, “... we have structured our bid so that we will only take on authors who want to join us. As part of this philosophy, if we win the bid, Dorchester has committed to revert all titles that are not assigned to us." So, authors who do not want to join the Amazon publishing family are going to have the power to opt out and instead have their rights reverted.

But Amazon’s deal with Dorchester isn’t finalized yet. If you want to outbid Amazon for the right to own Dorchester Publishing’s works under contract and the company's customer list, you are welcome to attempt to do so before August 15. The deal is set to be finalized on August 28 and we will keep you abreast of the news as it breaks.

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