When a contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

A friend of mine, Ottawa journalist, Mark Bourrie, had a contract to have his non-fiction book, The Fog of War,  published by Key Porter. Launch date was supposed to be January 25th.

He’d approved the jacket covers, arranged reviews for blurbs by prominent Canadian authors, and was planning his launch party. He contacted the publicity department on Monday to arrange the fine details. And was shocked (make that devastated) to receive a letter in response, telling him his book was on ‘hold.’

No one had bothered to tell him.  A copy of the letter is on Mark’s blog.

Now, one would think that someone might have actually had the decency to call Mark to tell him his book wasn’t going forward, once they knew he didn’t know. I used to teach conflict resolution: apologies are good, but they have to be sincere.

The book was supposed to come out in two weeks. On hold for what? Given the restructuring referred to in the letter, and the fact that Mark’s book had made the October cut when Key Porter first announced it was having problems, I think it’s fair to assume Mark’s book is like the parrot in the Monty Python sketch. Not resting. Dead.

Despite the pre-orders on Amazon and the fact that the book is still on Key Porter’s website.

Mark has over 1,000 Facebook friends. Most are writers, reporters and lawyers. The story has already hit one blog. Frankly, I would have thought that Mark’s book would have been the last one that Key Porter should have cut, given the publicity and outrage that would generate.

What do you do in a case like this where the publisher has the contractual rights to copyright but doesn’t/won’t/refuses/or can’t publish?

Mark’s talking to a lawyer. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I hope that Key Porter does the right thing, by either moving forward with its commitments or releasing its contractual rights so that another publisher can.

If they can’t, here’s an opportunity for another Canadian publisher to step up to the plate and take on  a good book by an established (make that, best-selling) author. Takers?

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