Most of the focus the past few days has been on my dealings with Dorchester and the warnings I sounded and so on, but as I've mentioned a couple times, Dorchester wasn't the only publisher engaged in these low-royalty bulk sales. Supposedly Kensington/Zebra was involved in some, possibly -- per a Jaye Manus post over at passive voice -- with a company named Centurion. I vaguely recall seeing some books with a Centurion imprint, but the memory isn't clear enough for me to state anything as a fact.
And the business with Harlequin distributing "free" copies that the authors got no royalties at all on was addressed years -- decades -- ago by RWA but it still goes on.
It's easy, therefore, to lay the blame on a financially troubled and ethically challenged publisher like Dorchester or Zebra, or on the greedy, monopolistic tentacular monstrosity that is Harlequin, and then to say "reputable" publishers wouldn't behave like that. And I use the term "reputable" intentionally, because that's the term Dorchester themselves used in qualifying the class of potential buyers for their inventory of contracts and rights.
There are few publishers in the paperback field as "reputable" as Pocket Books. They're well established, they pay higher royalty rates, they're part of a huge media conglomerate.
Here are two covers of my 1996 Pocket historical romance, Touchstone:
Here are the back covers:
Again, the original is on the right, with the ISBN and UPC barcode, the price indicated as $5.99 with the Canadian price also. The edition on the left has only a UPC price code, and the price indicated is $1.00.
The copyright page of the original indicates this is a "First Pocket Books printing" of March 1996. The little numbers below, standard in the industry, go all the way down to 1 which also designates this as a first printing.
This is the copyright page from the 2004 reprint, which is clearly identified as being done in September 2004. Though it isn't specifically identified as a first printing, the numbers below were not changed, thus allowing ignorant or unscrupulous booksellers to list it as a first edition, even though the copyright date remains 1996.
Can someone tell me how this is any different at all from what Dorchester and BMI did?