Dorchester Publishing Goes Dark

It’s the end of an era with Dorchester Publishing officially closed their (physical) doors. The publishing house was founded in the early 1970s and since has focused on several fiction genres including romance, Westerns and horror (and in the process launching the careers of some RT favorite authors like Marjorie M. Liu, C.L. Wilson and Christine Feehan).

Sadly, on March first, the doors of the publishing house were locked, the phones disconnected and the lights out. There was, for all accounts and purposes, no one home at the publishing company.

However, this is not the first news that Dorchester is in financial trouble. In 2010, the house announced that they would only be publishing titles in e-book format moving forward, a policy that was met with trepidation by authors and readers. Meanwhile, several authors began legal battles with the house related to alleged unpaid royalties and backlist rights.

Since 2010, conditions have not improved and the company slowly lost its entire editorial staff. When the extent of Dorchester’s decline was uncovered, the former VP of marketing, Tim DeYoung had this to say via Twitter:

But what’s actually going on? Well, here’s what we know so far. Earlier this year Dorchester’s owner John Backe filed a notice of foreclosure, after the publishing company was unable to pay him back a loan of $3.4 million. (It’s worth noting, the company is basically foreclosing against itself.) According to the notice of disposition, Backe planned that on March 8th at 2:00 pm, the security interest (aka Dorchester) would be sold at public auction as a single unit, with Garfunkel Wild, P.C. handling the sale. The auction was held as scheduled, according to Publishers Marketplace and FAA Investors, a company that is shrouded in mystery, bought the entirety of Dorchester Media, which is the company’s magazine division.

But in an interesting twist of events, a representative from the investment banking firm handling the sale, OEM Capital, said that the notice of foreclosure “did not apply to the book publisher Dorchester publishing itself — a separate auction of assets is planned for later.” And apparently there are several interested parties. But due to New York State Law, it will be at least 20 days until anything more is revealed about what exactly will be the future of Dorchester Publishing’s book division.

In the meantime, the company is still selling e-books. And according to an announcement on their Facebook page this past Monday, they have become a “virtual business.” (Although the terms of quite what that means remains hazy.)

And as for what this all means in terms of the financial standings of Dorchester? Well, Backe starting proceedings against the company means that he will be collecting at least some proceeds of the sale, but what will be left will most likely be divided amongst a slew of creditors who are all owed money.

Meanwhile, this foreclosure and potential sale is sure to further complicate pre-existing court cases that are being waged by authors and industry insiders against the publisher. To see a list of the current and previous legal battles, we suggest visiting author Brian Keene’s site where he spotlighted a several complaints. Keene also has an interesting take on the timeline of Dorchester’s decline.

For the moment, we can tell you that it seems that after dozens of months of uncertainty, Dorchester Publishing as the industry knows it, is in its final death throes. We will, of course, keep readers updated on this ongoing story.

Have any thoughts on Dorchester's situation? We'd love to hear them in the comments below. And you can find more publishing industry news here.