Sometimes, the most interesting news comes not from the article, but from the comments that readers leave in response. Tim Davies, blogging for The Bookseller’s Futurebook blog, posted an interesting albeit somewhat one-sided opinion piece about Author Solutions, the large vanity press that is now part of Penguin publishing, and thereby, part of Random House as well.
In the piece, Davies speculates on what is taking place with the Penguin-Author Solutions merger, especially as it correlates to the Penguin-Random House merger. The piece itself is hardly inflammatory, and is more along the vein of just questioning where all three of those divisions can fit together while admitting that Author Solutions doesn’t have the best reputation in the industry.
That wasn’t good enough for the readers.
Several noted commenters, including author David Gaughran and the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Orna Ross, took issue with the fact that Author Solutions was not clearly called out in the piece for its business practices, something that has actually resulted in lawsuits from their author clients. Rather than “poor PR,” as Davies stated in his post, the commenters accuse Author Solutions of a complete lack of customer service.
Davies was called out, in fact, for not stating clearly at the beginning of the post that he is a former employee of Author Solutions, and that his views on the company may be the result of not wanting to upset any of the three companies involved. Gaughran has some of the most interesting remarks on the piece, when he stated:
“This puff piece by an ex-member of Author Solutions’ management team (which really, really should be flagged up top) also fails to mention something else pretty relevant: Author Solutions is currently the subject of a class action suit for deceptive practices. You can read more about that here from Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware – the leading watchdog in the USA, who have received more complaints about Author Solutions than any other company. Ever.”
Interestingly, Davies responded to the non-plussed commenters himself in the post:
“I am neither a critic nor a supporter of Author Solutions and I was and am aware of the strength of feeling around them. My post was not about their business model or practice, rather it was a presentation of my theory of one of the reasons why Penguin may have acquired them, namely to use their prepress operation to facilitate the Penguin Random House merger.”
Wherever the authoring and publishing communities stand on the issue is surely divided; Author Solutions wouldn’t have the client base that it has if not for some measure of support and would not have the number of titles on Amazon that Davies mentioned, which is currently around 230,00 books. However, with more and more authors and organizations speaking up in defense of authors who’ve been wronged, hopefully those practices will change or the doors will close.
For the full text of the post and the comments, go to the Futurebook blog by clicking HERE.