Multi-Million Dollar Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Penguin, Author Solutions

Multi-Million Dollar Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Penguin, Author Solutions Lawsuit Publishing Three self-published authors filed a class action lawsuit last week against Penguin's vanity press subsidiary, Author Solutions.  I have not yet seen the filing myself, but I'm told that the 3 authors claim that Penguin/ASI "cheats writers of royalties and charges them to correct typos in manuscripts that the company itself inserted".

The authors live in Calif. and New York, and they are represented by New York law firm Giskan, Solotaroff, Anderson, & Stewart. This is the firm that 2 months was looking for authors who had had negative encounters with Author Solutions.

The authors are asking for $5 million in punitive damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, various violations of the California Business and Professional Code, and violation of New York General Business Law. The list of complaints is comes as no surprise. The authors say that ASI had:

  • failed to pay royalties
  • failed to send authors accurate sales statements
  • introduced numerous and egregious errors into the books produced by ASI
  • sold useless and ineffective marketing and promotional services

Here's more from the complaint:

"Author Solutions' revenues are estimated at $100 million per year," the complaint states. "Of the $100 million Author Solutions earns as revenue, approximately one third of that amount, or millions annually, comes from book sales. The rest of its revenue is derived from the services it offers, such as editorial services, formatting and design services, production services, and marketing services ('services')."

"Despite its impressive profits from book sales, Author Solutions fails at the most basic task of a publisher: paying its authors their earned royalties and providing its authors with accurate sales statements."

"Author Solutions also fails to take diligent care of its authors' works, making numerous and egregious publisher errors - errors made by the publisher, not the author. These errors include errors on book covers, in addition to various typographical and formatting errors. In fact, Author Solutions profits from its own mistakes. Aggressive sales techniques ensure that these errors are corrected only for a fee of several hundred dollars. Even though, as a matter of policy, Author Solutions promises to correct publisher errors for free, it rarely does."

"Most of Author Solutions' earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing services. These services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors."

"Therefore, even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as '[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,' authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions it is not an 'indie publisher' at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them."

Author Solutions has a bad reputation that goes back for years, so this lawsuit was inevitable. In fact, the only part that puzzles me is that it didn't happen sooner. Penguin has deep pockets, so I would have expected to see a lawsuit filed almost as soon as the Penguin-ASI deal was finalized.

Penguin bought Author Solutions in July 2012 for $116 million, in spite of ASI's existing poor reputation. ASI has been operating  under a variety of logos, including AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Palibrio, Trafford, and Xlibri. ASI is also providing similar sketchy services under contract to a number of otherwise respectable companies, including Simon & Schuster (Archway), Lulu, Penguin India (Partridge), and Harlequin (DellArte Press).

source

 

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

24 Comments

  1. Peter Winkler1 May, 2013

    Wow, those must be some clever lawyers, because you can’t get punitive damages for breach of contract. Punitive damages can only be awarded in tort cases. Breaching a contract is not tortious behavior.

    Reply
  2. fjtorres1 May, 2013

    I can see Author Solutions’ defense on the accounting charges: “Our accounting practices are exactly the same as every other big publisher out there.”
    😉

    Reply
  3. Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity: Caveat Scriptor: Writer Beware! | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!9 May, 2013

    […] Multi-Million Dollar Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Penguin, Author Solutions (the-digital-reader.com) […]

    Reply
  4. Jodi Foster11 May, 2013

    Hello,

    My name is Jodi Foster. I am one of the three plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Author Solutions. Please feel free to contact me or my lawyers.

    http://www.gslawny.com/
    http://jodifoster.net/

    Reply
    1. Peggy Poston9 July, 2013

      Jodi,
      I would be more than happy to join in on the class action lawsuit or testify for
      you. Despite these idiot comments by others that there shouldn’t be punitive
      damages, there should because it is deliberate and criminal what xlibris and author
      solutions has done. I thought about looking for an atty myself. Please feel free to have
      your attorneys contact me. I put so much into my book and xlibris claims that I only
      sold 2 copies after a million emails went out, does that make sense? I can tell by those
      selling my books on Amazon.com that I am not being properly credited. I also tried
      to talk to the heads at xlibris and they would not accomodate me. I can tell by how they
      treat me on the phone, they are crooks. When one asked what the problem was, I told her
      that it sounded as though they were having a pot party. Does this sound like a company
      that has any professionalism? They told me everything was included in the package, but
      yet they charge all the time for anything they do. They also breach and lie about what was
      in the contract. I hope they are beaten into the ground! I even got a shot in on them in my
      book, The Good Bad & Ugly, Social Security Disability but don’t buy it, it will just make them more money!

      Reply
    2. sean ross18 July, 2013

      I wrote the book Life In A georgia Town and paid authorhouse to publish it. now they want more for publicity to sell the book, and they want $4500 for them to do a movie script promo since they think it can be a movie

      Reply
  5. Dion E Cheese26 May, 2013

    Hello Jodi,
    My name is Dion Cheese and I am currently going through what I believe are fraudulent practices with Xlibris, the subpar editing practices and so forth. I toldtthem not to release my book in its terrible state and yet they did so anyway without my approval or knowledge…. Please inbox me on Facebook under Dion Cheeze. I will be more than obliged to help out in any way possible. I have sent my contact information to the link you provided and have left a voice mail for you as well. I would like to join in on your suit.
    Thank you so much,
    Dion Cheese

    Reply
  6. CC27 May, 2013

    Nice how Xlibris, Author Solutions staff members always post rubbish on any article about how they are being sued. You’re scam artists and thieves who prey on the elderly, the disabled and naive and nothing more.

    Reply
  7. john b29 May, 2013

    HI..Jody foster. .yes there Crooks..they got me to..there aare folks that work for Authorhouse& IUNIVERSE THAT cant even Spell..its Hilarious. …( Fraud ) without a shawdow of a Doubt..—-cheaters..and beaters ..its embarrassing. .!!…Ive sign up already. .after I saw they have a live person monitor. Go on your royalty page when you go on..and change your Royalty Statement. .putting in a fraudulent word document. .robbing us authors out of 10’s of thousands of dollars. .thats how Authorhouse. .makes there 38million a year in royalties. .authors get 5million if there lucky..Authorhouse shaves off the top before authors see it…thats why when you ask them to see alll Royalties statements from just the Retailers and not there royalty statements they wont show it to you even after asking for it with the attorney generals..Because they know they re dealing in deceptive practices and fraud..plus money laundering taking more then there fair share ripping us authors off ..so if they had nothing to hide ..Authorhouse would’ve shown all Retailers receipts through the atg office..and not Reply the word no..to the atg office…this should have been a Red flag. .to the Indiana state attorney generals office. ..!!!.

    Reply
  8. Raymond Taylor28 November, 2014

    Hi name is Raymond Taylor I’m writing because I am also a victim of Authorhouse they haven’t paid me royalties. I hope these lawyers are smarter than Authorhouse’s Lawyers because somebody needs to be Strong and Take Down Crooks like Authorhouse then you feel like a real Author. Sincerely, Raymond Taylor

    Reply
  9. Sandy Dinan1 December, 2014

    Hi Jodi,
    I too have experienced all of the above issues with Xlibris. I self published the book “My Heart Belongs to Mom” by Echata (my Cherokee name). The book is mostly about my son’s early life before he went to live with his father and joined the Army. I would like to talk with your attorneys. My phone is 573-239-1124. At the time I self published the book I was grieving my son and still working. Because of my grief I did not become aware of the scam until recently. I retired in 2012. I ordered and paid for books and gave them to my son’s friends, brothers in the Army, relatives of my family, and mothers who had lost sons. I know the gift helped them.

    Reply
  10. Frani13 January, 2015

    Hi, I wrote my Novel about 17 years ago, paid so much to do it also, recieved about 20 dollars maybe in royalty’s. I saw my Novel in retails, media’s, sold internationally in all languages, plus my name was changed on the cover and sold on ebay. Now, how do all of these media’s or ebay sale OUR Novel’s new and used if Author House is not supplying them? Please check and see if your Novel is not also being sold used or new on ebay and that will really get a fire going. Thank you.

    Reply
  11. Raymond Taylor15 January, 2015

    Hello Jodi Hi my name is Raymond Taylor I’m writing because I’m also a victim of Author Solutions too. I sent my contract and other documents to the lawyers Giskan Solotaroff Anderson and Stewart LLP. Alice Friedman called me and told me they accepted my contract(documents) so I’m part of this class action. My problem if I email the lawyers and ask them how the case is going they never reply. Could you please tell me how the case is going? I wait your reply thanks sincerely, Raymond Taylor God Bless.

    Reply
    1. Margaret Belanger11 June, 2015

      Hi Raymond,
      I too have had some bad experiences with Author Solutions, to the tune of $10,000 +. Bombarded with phone calls and emails persuading me to purchase a more comprehensive and more expensive marketing package, which availed nothing. Their dishonesty regarding the sale of my book is appalling and although I know several people who have purchased copies, the royalties do not reflect that.
      I’ve been following the Class Action -Giskan Soloaroff Anderson and Stewart LL and wondering how I can be part of this class action. You said that you sent the lawyer your contract as well as other documents. Can I ask you – what documents did you send. Is it that easy? I have no idea what is required.
      Wishing you the best.

      Reply
  12. […] April 2013, the law firm of Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart filed a class action lawsuit against […]

    Reply
  13. […] the same company which is owned by Penguin Random House and is the subject of multiple class action […]

    Reply
  14. William E. McCoy23 June, 2015

    My book experience with Xlibris Plublishing has been a night mare. For three years or more they claimed I owed them money for the forty books they sent to me. After sending them three faxes from my Visa Card proving the money had been fully paid they would not send me a statement along with my insistence that a copy of the fax sent to them which proved the bill had been paid. Instead they turned me over to a collection agency which I ignored. Finally after receiving these harassment calls from the collection agency I called Xlibris and demanded for the forth time to speak to no one but the CEO and Eugene Hopkins called on June 19 2015 and said that my case shows I owe no money. I have received two dollars and instructions from Mr. Hokins on how to get to my account which does not work as he said it would. I agree that this company is a scam with all the enticements in how to get more money from you with them keeping all royalties that they steal. Why do I believe this? My grandson a phys[cian, said he saw copies of my book “Our Perilous Journey” in second hand book stores. The book has been for sale on Amazon and various other book seller. Also their are numerous complaints on the internet shown from other writers who are experiencing the same.
    My phone no. is 1-828-253-5445. My email address is :[email protected]

    Reply
  15. […] lawsuit was originally filed in 2013 by the law firm Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart on behalf of authors Jodi Foster, Kelvin […]

    Reply
  16. […] subsidiaries? There's a New York law firm that wants to talk to you. Update: And now that firm has filed their lawsuit. I've just been given a link to a new notice posted on the website of Giskan, Solotaroff, Anderson, […]

    Reply
  17. Ed Willard20 January, 2016

    I published through Xlibris, (copyright date (9/1/2012), and my novel has sold over 11,000 copies and I’ve received less than 100 dollars from them. I and my friend, (who footed the bill for the publishing), noticed right from the start, a lot of the nasty practices, such as misspelling of words, words left out, and other typos. At first we just thought they were incompetent, later realizing, as others have stated, that Xlibris was just making bank off their “mistakes”. I’ve retained an attorney and am planning litigation with them, though perhaps the class action suit is the way for me to go.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder21 January, 2016

      You’re better off pursuing your case on your own. The class action suits fell through when the lawyers could not prove a class. (Each Author Solutions victim was cheated in a different way.)

      Reply
  18. Gloria Edwards28 March, 2016

    I published a book with AuthorHouse in 2007, payed them over $2000 dollars and did not get any feedback at all. The only time I did hear from them was when they wanted me to pay more money for promoting it. I would like to be informed about what’s going on with the lawsuit. Count me in.

    Reply
  19. shirley Walsh12 July, 2016

    Hi i dont no if ive made a mistake but since January 2016 im onmy third book with Author House. I was so happy to see the finished copies even though they tiny mistakes. But i seen something come up on my phone saying that some people are saying they are a scam. I feel a bit mixed up and shocked. I am just through the process of paying my last installments with Author House. Ive really trusted them. Thankyou Shirley My phone number is 01642 297557

    Reply
  20. […] case had originally been filled in April 2013 as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the authors who had done business with the notorious vanity […]

    Reply

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