Sparrowhawk: Rescued from Oblivion

Many readers know me best by my novels, especially the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period. This seven-title epic series has been published by MacAdam/Cage of San Francisco since 2001.

But, no more.

Without going into the many details of the contentious and often acerbic relationship I have had with the publisher, MacAdam/Cage, over the last thirteen years, I have determined, after arduous time- and energy-consuming investigation, that the publisher is no longer in existence. The California Secretary of State’s records report that the company has been “merged into another company,” whose identity is not noted in that department’s records. The founder of the company, David Poindexter, died of cancer on April 29th, this year. The surviving principals of the company subsequently vanished, or, rather, have rendered themselves incommunicado for months, and have not acknowledged or responded to queries whether by email, telephone, or regular correspondence by me, by other authors published by MacAdam/Cage, or by anyone else.

The Better Business Bureau of Oakland, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, has reported that MacAdam/Cage has not responded to my complaint about a breach of contract and nonpayment of royalties earned from either the printed books or the e-book versions, and otherwise cannot be contacted.

There is evidence that MacAdam/Cage and its British affiliated company, MP Publishing, which published the Kindle or e-book versions of the Sparrowhawk series, are now mere “shell” entities under which the surviving principals are hiding.

In 2011, dissatisfied with MacAdam/Cage’s failure to market the series, and with its overall dilatory behavior, and because of delayed royalty payments, which the firm was contractually obligated to pay twice a year, together with providing a royalty statement, I published the series on Amazon’s Kindle program. About two months later, and much to my surprise, I was informed by MP Publishing that I was in violation of contract, because MP Publishing had purchased the e-book or electronic rights to the series. This was news to me, not having been informed by MacAdam/Cage that it had sold those rights to the British company in 2009. I took down my Kindle versions of the series. I later learned that MacAdam/Cage had sold the e-book rights to MP Publishing of its entire backlist of titles, presumably to raise cash.

While I knew that MP Publishing’s versions of the series were being sold on Amazon, my premise and justification for publishing my own versions were that MacAdam/Cage had already breached the three contracts I had with the firm, so leave was on my side, not MacAdam/Cage’s.

MacAdam/Cage had made some disastrous business decisions, among which were the costly bidding contest with a major mainstream publisher, Random House, for the publication rights to Audrey Niffenegger’s bizarre novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, which contest MacAdam/Cage won, and the publication of other novels which did not begin to recoup the costs of their publication. Niffenegger received a stupendous advance from MacAdam/Cage for her novel. She later abandoned MacAdam/Cage for another publisher who paid her even more for the rights to her future books.

The Sparrowhawk series, however, has been a steady seller ever since publication of the first title of the series in 2001, but MacAdam/Cage over the years had never made but token and amateurish attempts to advertise or market it.

So, to make a long and depressing story short, based on the evidence that MacAdam/Cage and MP Publishing have in effect relinquished the publication rights to the Sparrowhawk series, I have reinstated my Kindle versions of them and also plan to republish the series as print-on-demand books. I am making this move because, in answer to a request to Amazon to remove MP Publishing’s Kindle versions of the series, Amazon replied in the affirmative and will be culling those titles from all its venues.  Here is the text of the notification from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, dated August 6th, 2013:

 

Dear Edward,

Thank you for your message.  Please be advised that we are in the process of removing the following Kindle titles from all Amazon sites:

Sparrowhawk 1 – Jack Frake ASIN: B002WC95IC
Sparrowhawk 2 – Hugh Kenrick ASIN: B002WC95IM
Sparrowhawk 3 – Caxton ASIN: B002TG443C
Sparrowhawk 4 – Empire ASIN: B002YD7VIU
Sparrowhawk 5 – Revolution ASIN: B002YD7VJ4
Sparrowhawk 6 – War ASIN: B002U0M5FQ
The Sparrowhawk Companion ASIN: B002U0M4UW
Sparrowhawk – Trilogy 1 ASIN: B003LY496I

It typically takes 2-3 days for a listing to disappear once it has been removed from our catalog. We trust this will bring this matter to a close.

Best Regards,

Regards,

Anne Tarpey
Kindle Direct Publishing

 

All the cited titles are MP Publishing versions. They have already been replaced by versions published by the Patrick Henry Press, that is, by me.

And that is the end of that.

 

 

 

  • Michael Rivers

    Glad to hear this. I have a paper copy of the first novel, but would like to read one or more of the others on Kindle. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  • DogmaelJones1

    Michael: They are all available on Kindle now, and they will all be available as print books, as well. I have adapted and altered the MacAdam covers to more properly reflect the theme of each title. Too often in the past prospective buyers would conclude by the MacAdam covers that Sparrowhawk was a Patrick O’Brien type naval series, when it certainly is not. However, I have had to send a similar request to Barnes & Noble Nook to have the MacAdam/MP ebook versions removed from their venue, too. Amazon did not drag its feet in removing those now illegal ebook versions from their site, but B&N Nook might not be as cooperative. I’ll know about that this week.

  • Kurt Colville

    That’s great news, Edward! I’m glad to know that you’ve regained exclusive publishing control, and thanks for letting your fans know.

  • DogmaelJones1

    You might like to see a preview of my next detective novel here.

    http://newromanticist.com/2013/preview-of-ed-clines-a-crimson-overture/

  • DogmaelJones1

    You might like to see a preview of my new detective novel here.

    http://newromanticist.com/2013/preview-of-ed-clines-a-crimson-overture/

  • Kurt Colville

    Excellent. Thanks very much!

  • gravenimage

    Edward, I’m sorry to hear about all the grief you’ve had with your terribly unprofessional publisher. Will you be self-publishing now, or looking for another publisher? Good luck with whatever you choose to do.

  • DogmaelJones1

    Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook honored my request to remove
    all MacAdam/Cage and MP Publishing editions of my Sparrowhawk novels.
    However, a more recent development is that Kobo Inc. of Canada refuses
    to remove those titles from its sales sites. Kobo received its ebook
    editions of my novels from MP Publishing, with which, because of the
    demise of MacAdam/Cage, I have no contractual relationship. I have
    made the same request to Kobo, but Kobo has stated that the issue is my
    relationship with MP Publishing and that I need to sort things out with
    MP. But I have no relationship with that company. Regardless of the
    contractual relationship between MP and Kobo, my novels are now being
    pirated, and I have not seen a dime from Kobo sales of those novels, nor
    from MP. I have sent a letter of complaint to Kobo’s parent company,
    Ratuken Inc.of Japan, to see if they will compel Kobo to take down my
    novels from its site.

  • Vovka Ashkenazy

    Too late, I have already bought the whole series on Kindle, and am still looking to buy two remaining volumes in hardback so as to complete the collection in both formats. Fantastic series.

  • DogmaelJones1

    Vovka: For the hardbacks or softbacks, you have the option of purchasing what’s left of the MacAdam/Cage copies, as they are no longer being reprinted for any vendor, or purchasing titles of the “new” Sparrowhawk published by Patrick Henry Press (me). These are softcovers, and are now available on Amazon. The only ebook versions of the series being sold that are MacAdam/Cage versions are sold by Kobo of Canada. I am in a fight at the moment to have those removed, as they are pirated and in violation of my intellectual property rights. I am not being paid for their sales.

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