Home / Books / Lawsuits, Liens, and Lost URLs: The Latest on America Star Books / PublishAmerica
Lawsuits, Liens, and Lost URLs: The Latest on America Star Books / PublishAmerica

Lawsuits, Liens, and Lost URLs: The Latest on America Star Books / PublishAmerica

Posted by means of Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

The united states Superstar Books turns out to have long gone into bankruptcy. (See underneath for a complete writeup.)  However ASB has now not terminated any of its contracts, or returned authors’ rights. Loads of ASB books are nonetheless on sale. That is unfair and improper.

Author Beware urges ASB authors to touch the Maryland Attorney General‘s place of business with a criticism. You will have two choices:

1. The Consumer Protection Division.

On your criticism, EMPHASIZE THAT YOU ARE A CONSUMER — i.e., that you just paid cash to ASB for items or products and services that weren’t delivered or have been faulty. Here is a hyperlink to the web criticism shape; it features a hyperlink for many who’d like to record by means of mail: http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/Complaints/general.aspx. You’ll additionally name or e mail Client Coverage Department team of workers at once:

William D. Gruhn, Leader (410) 576-6558; e mail: bgruhn@oag.state.md.us
Steven M. Sakamoto-Wengel, Deputy Leader (410) 576-6307; e mail: ssakamoto@oag.state.md.us

2. The Legal Department:

Elizabeth M. Embry, Leader (410) 576-6406; e mail: eembry@oag.state.md.us
Katherine A. Dorian, Deputy Leader (410) 576-6383; e mail: kdorian@oag.state.md.us

More than one proceedings can produce motion. When infamous vainness writer Tate Publishing & Enterprises closed down final spring with out returning rights or refunding bills, loads of creator proceedings to the Oklahoma Legal professional Basic spurred an investigation that resulted in the indictment of Tate’s owners on a couple of legal fees.

In case you have questions, or in case you have any knowledge or perception into ASB’s final, please remark right here or contact Writer Beware.

This publish has been up to date.

It’s been a while since I wrote about The united states Superstar Books, née PublishAmerica, one of the vital prolific creator generators in The united states (additionally the topic of scores of author complaints, and the recipient of an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau). So what is been happening?

In Might 2015, ASB/PA co-founder Larry Clopper filed go well with in opposition to PA/ASB, co-founder Willem Meiners, and several other others, alleging breach of contract, amongst different reasons, and important dissolution of the corporate and appointment of a receiver. After over a 12 months of criminal maneuvering–which incorporated the appointment of an appraiser, a counterclaim by means of Meiners/PA/ASB, and the issuance of subpoenas by means of Clopper to more than a few PA/ASB banks and creditors–the events agreed in July 2016 to outline to dismissal with prejudice.

I do not but know what used to be within the settlement–I have installed a public information request, and can document again when I am getting the documents–but over the length of the lawsuit and in a while, issues have modified at PA/ASB.

Someday after September 2015, ASB’s About Us page–which previously had touted its founding “by means of e-book publishers with a protracted historical past of publishing enjoy”–began to reference the “new” The united states Superstar Books: “Run by means of its staff, from the ground up….The corporate has a control, yet there may be now not a lot top-down happening at The united states Superstar Books.” (Here’s what the page looks like today.)

Sooner or later after September 2016, all point out of the interpretation program with which PA/ASB introduced its 2014 name change used to be got rid of (here is what the site used to say about that, courtesy of the useful Web Archive; here’s what it says now). And in November 2016, PA/ASB put a hold on submissions “all over [sic] the top of 2016.”

That cling seems to have transform everlasting. Here’s how the submission page looks today:

And here is what was briefly posted at a now non-working ASB internet cope with:

The united states Superstar Books now not accepts new authors. ASB Promotions will morph into Paperback Products and services within the close to long term….Paperback Products and services works facet by means of facet on location with Paperback Radio, The united states’s most effective are living 24/7 station about books and writers.

Paperback Radio and Paperback Services are each owned by means of PA/ASB co-founder Willem Meiners (Paperback Products and services has a internet cope with that is going nowhere these days).
In the type of comments loop that is not unusual with vainness publishers, pieces from Meiners’ Paperback Radio (ads“experts lists”), in conjunction with a variety of “promotional” and other services from Meiners’ Paperback Products and services, have been presented on the market to PA/ASB authors within the Meiners-owned PA/ASB webstore.

That is not all. Extra indicators of trade/hassle at PA/ASB:

According to Amazon, ASB used to be issuing books lovely ceaselessly during the starting of 2017, albeit at a discounted price from earlier years (round 10-15 monthly). Since mid-Might, it has issued simply two titles.

– ASB lately has 3 open liens in opposition to it from the Maryland Dept. of Hard work, Licensing, and Legislation, totaling $50,754.

– As of this writing, some ASB URLs are disabled: www.americastarbooks.net now not works, nor does www.store.americastarbooks.pub, which used to host the PA/ASB book shop and promotional “products and services” retailer (here are some examples of those services, courtesy of the Web Archive). ASB’s Facebook page additionally seems to be defunct (until they have got blocked me, which is imaginable). The PublishAmerica URL, which used to re-direct to The united states Superstar Books, now directs once more to the outdated PA site (which hasn’t been up to date since 2013, yet still has an open submissions portal).

– There is a book shop hyperlink at the ASB site, nevertheless it does not paintings. PA/ASB books are nonetheless on the market at on-line outlets, however the PA/ASB book shop does not seem to be on-line any place at any internet cope with.

Is that this in reality the top of The united states Superstar Books / PublishAmerica? Arduous to mention. There are rumors of chapter, yet I have searched on PACER and I have discovered no signal of any chapter filings.

Questions stay. If ASB does disappear, what’s going to occur to the books and authors lately below contract? If ASB Promotions, or Paperback Products and services, or no matter it finally ends up calling itself, survives as a separate entity, will spammer-in-chief Jackie Velnoskey proceed her prolific program of email solicitations and comment spam?

Keep tuned.

UPDATE eight/14/17: ASB’s one final internet cope with now returns an account suspended message.
So far as I do know, ASB/PA hasn’t despatched out any notifications or communications as to what is going on.

Authors, if you happen to get any roughly word or e mail from ASB, would you please contact me? Thank you.

UPDATE eight/19/17: I am getting emails from authors questioning what to do. What occurs with their books which might be below contract? If ASB is in reality useless, can they take their books and post in different places?

At this time, in my view, that would not be sensible.

All indicators level to ASB being long gone. Its site has vanished. Telephones are not being spoke back. Emails are bouncing. Placing the ones issues along side the indicators of hassle that I have mentioned above, if I needed to bet, I would bet that ASB is historical past.

However…there may be been no reliable announcement of a closure. I simply checked once more and there may be nonetheless no signal of any chapter filings, both below the trade names or the homeowners’ names. And ASB/PA books are nonetheless on the market new at on-line booksellers. I believe there may be no less than the chance that ASB would possibly have the opportunity to promote or differently switch its massive catalog to a few different entity (which most of the ASB/PA contracts I have noticed permit it to do with out asking authors’ permission). Every other risk: ASB/PA books would possibly one way or the other be folded in with Willem Meiners’ Paperback enterprises.

Base line: we do not in fact know what’s going on, or what’s going to occur. Till we do, it could be dangerous to take books which might be below contract with both ASB or PA and take a look at to re-publish them. The problem is not just the chance that ASB/PA or its successor would possibly come after you, yet that any new writer or self-publishing carrier would require you to have complete energy to grant publishing rights. In case you are lately below unique contract to another writer, and it isn’t transparent that writer is into bankruptcy, you would not have that energy.

I am additionally listening to from ASB authors who have paid for products and services they have not gained. My recommendation could be to straight away record a dispute along with your bank card corporate or with PayPal (relying on the way you paid). I have heard from quite a few Tate Publishing authors who were given a reimbursement this fashion. Be happy to make use of this publish as justification.

Stay gazing this weblog for updates.

UPDATE nine/11/17: I realized this a few weeks in the past, yet did not publish an replace as a result of I wasn’t certain if it used to be a glitch. It is been lengthy sufficient now that I am guessing it isn’t.

Willem Meiners’s Paperback Radio seems to have long gone the way in which of  The united states Superstar Books. Its URL yields a “Site is currently offline” message. Its Twitter feed hasn’t been up to date since July 16. Its Facebook page is now not to be had.

What is going on? No concept. There may be nonetheless no signal of any chapter filings, or any phrase from someone at ASB. Publishers do a large number of dangerous issues, yet one of the vital worst is to do a bunk and go away authors in limbo.

If someone has knowledge or perception into the ASB/Meiners state of affairs, will you please contact me? Your identification will probably be stored confidential. Thanks.

UPDATE nine/14/17: I have realized that this previous June, some (even though it seems that now not all) PA/ASB authors gained an e mail from Willem Meiners pronouncing ASB’s closure and transformation into Paperback Products and services. Right here it’s:

From: willem@americastarbooks.pub
To: [redacted]
Despatched: Tuesday, June 6, 2017, three:08:46 PM EDT
Topic: A letter from the CEO: identify trade coming

Expensive [redacted],

At The united states Superstar Books we have now reached a brand new milestone. As of later this week all of our e-book advertising and marketing and promotion efforts will probably be endured below a special identify: Paperback Products and services. Our e-book promotion team of workers, Jackie Velnoskey, Kerrin Wuchter, Sarah Balukoff, and Sarah Freitas, will paintings the use of that new Paperback Products and services identify. Not anything else adjustments there.

To not fear — in case your e-book is a hardcover, it’s going to even be represented by means of Paperback Products and services. The identify pertains to that different entity that you’ve heard so frequently about: Paperback Radio.

I based Paperback Products and services these days. I based Paperback Radio a 12 months in the past. The station has been within the air nonstop since then. My purpose used to be easy: there are lots of publishing firms nowadays that can post an creator’s e-book, both at no cost or for a price. However there is not any different radio station the place everybody can pay attention about the ones books, let by myself pay attention to what the creator has to mention about it. Paperback Radio is the country’s most effective 24/7 station about books and writers.

The united states Superstar Books now not accepts new authors and publishes not more new titles. Nor will we attend any new industry presentations below that identify. Closing week’s Ebook Expo The united states used to be ASB’s final match. Paperback Products and services, on the other hand, now takes over your e-book promotion with gusto, and will probably be at all of the large occasions: Ebook Expo, Frankfurt Ebook Honest, Miami Ebook Honest, London Ebook Honest, Los Angeles Instances Pageant of Books, the ALA library conventions, and extra. Oftentimes Paperback Products and services will probably be there facet by means of facet with Paperback Radio.

Reporting are living from the venues that till now most effective got here to you thru pictures on Fb goes so as to add a wholly new measurement to the industry presentations the place your e-book is being promoted. Anyplace you might be on the planet you are able to pay attention, are living, what is going on within the cities the place you spent your valuable e-book promotion cash. You’ll now be capable to pay attention strangers speak about your e-book as they uncover it.

Later this week you’ll get started receiving emails from the e-book promotion team of workers that you already know, Jackie, Kerrin, Sarah, and Sarah, that finish with @paperbackservices.com. Identical folks, identical array of promoting alternatives, new e mail addresses. There can also be a improve@paperbackservices.com cope with, for all of your questions.

Now not most effective am I the founding father of Paperback Radio and Paperback Products and services, yet I additionally based The united states Superstar Books and its predecessor, long ago within the overdue 1990s. My challenge then used to be to permit as many writers as imaginable to have their e-book revealed without charge: I revealed nearly 70,000 books, at no cost. I confirmed different publishers easy methods to do it, and nowadays many are doing a fantastic task. Now the time has come to make a distinction in e-book promotion, in order that your e-book can in fact be discoveredamong all of the others. With Paperback Products and services and Paperback Radio we’re going to make this occur for you.


The united states Superstar Books,
Paperback Products and services,
Paperback Radio,

–Willem Meiners, founder and CEO

UPDATE nine/29/17: Due to an nameless tipster, I have realized that Willem and Alice Meiners have put their area up on the market. According to Zillow, it used to be indexed on September five (a captivating date, since Paperback Radio vanished at round the similar time). A sale is already pending. (How do I do know that is their area? Numerous online sources confirm their cope with.)

Consider how all of a sudden ASB, Paperback Radio, and Paperback Products and services vanished from the internet. Then imagine the sale of the Meiners’s house, and the truth that all of this happened inside the similar two- or three-week period of time in mid-August to early September. It is curious, no? Particularly in gentle of the constructive tone of Meiners’s June 6 announcement e mail. It is having a look increasingly to me as some unexpected private or monetary or criminal disaster is in the back of what is took place.

I have additionally heard from a few PA/ASB authors that the print variations in their books are abruptly appearing as “lately unavailable” on Amazon. I did a handy guide a rough test of recently-pubbed PA/ASB print books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and nearly all of them are actually indexed as “lately unavailable” or “quickly out of inventory”. It sort of feels lovely transparent that ASB is now not interacting with its printer.

Kindle editions don’t seem to be affected. The ones are nonetheless on sale.

UPDATE nine/30/17: Extra dangerous information for PA/ASB.

Bookmasters’ 2015 lawsuit in opposition to PA/ASB, which used to be settled in early 2016 when each events stipulated to dismissal, has simply been re-opened “for failure to conform to stipulation of agreement.” A movement used to be filed by means of Bookmasters on August 16, and the case used to be re-opened on September 19. Screenshot underneath (you’ll see for your self at the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website).

UPDATE 10/18/17: That is abnormal and I do not know what to make of it, however the americastarbooks.com URL has resurfaced…in Vietnamese. One of the vital content material of the outdated ASB web page has been retained, in particular the About Us page, which is in English. Screenshot underneath.

Not one of the books proven at the web page are or have been revealed by means of ASB, so far as I will inform. Screenshot of the domain registration info:

What does it imply? I don’t have any clue.

In different information, ASB now has a fourth lien in opposition to it, this one for over $28,000.

UPDATE 11/6/17: The following tips (at the start posted within the feedback) used to be gained by means of an ASB creator from a literary legal professional. I am reproducing it right here, in conjunction with my feedback in daring.

I sincerely sympathize with you and all of the others who’ve been victimized by means of The united states Superstar Books/PublishAmerica. I don’t take care of disputes with PublishAmerica and its spin-offs — litigation in opposition to it’s too pricey for the everyday particular person, and the consequences questionable. You must, after all, record a criticism with Maryland Client Coverage Department (http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/Complaints/general.aspx).

I will state the next, which you will to find useful:

1. As of nowadays, there is not any document of a chapter submitting by means of both ASB or PublishAmerica in Maryland. If a chapter have been filed, the chapter trustee would have the rights to books below contract, they wouldn’t robotically be returned to the creator. A number of magnificence movements fits have up to now been tried in opposition to PublishAmerica yet have been brushed aside since the differing standing of the plaintiffs didn’t qualify for a category. Person proceedings have been hampered by means of an arbitration clause. Although such fits have been a hit, the risk of recuperating cash from the homeowners is unsure.

2. For many authors, getting their rights again is the paramount factor. One choice is to record go well with in opposition to in state court docket (District Court docket for Frederick Maryland, NOT federal District Court docket) alleging breach of contract (supplied there is not any arbitration clause of their contracts). If ASB is into bankruptcy, a default judgment will probably be granted if carrier or procedure can also be acquired.

three. Every other choice is to ship a licensed letter to the final recognized cope with of ASB alleging breach of contract for failure to pay royalties and important reversion of rights. In most cases the letter may not be signed for by means of ASB and returned; the creator then can document the letter and rationalization of the breach of contract with the Copyright Place of business (https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ12.pdf ) This may give the creator a foundation to argue she or he has the rights when coping with a standard writer. Whether or not a standard writer is keen to take the chance is questionable, since there used to be no resolution by means of an arbitrator or court docket that the publishing settlement used to be breached. (I frankly suppose it’s extremely not going that any skilled writer, massive or small, could be keen to take this possibility.)

If you want to self-publish once more, on the other hand, there are official firms that can lend a hand. In that match, within the extremely not going match that ASB alleged copyright infringement in opposition to the creator as it alleged it nonetheless owned the rights, the creator would shield at the factor of breach of contract. (Bear in mind, even though, that almost all self-publishing platforms’ and creator products and services firms’ Phrases of Use require you to warrant that you’ve the unencumbered proper to go into right into a publishing agreement–which, with out an reliable reversion of rights from ASB, it’s not transparent you do. Punishment for a breached guaranty might be removing of your account. See, for instance, Phase 7 of CreateSpace’s Member Settlement: https://eu.createspace.com/pub/signup/view.memberagreement.do )

four. The issue of ASB nonetheless promoting the creator’s books on Amazon and different websites is a separate factor. As soon as the creator takes the placement that ASB has breached its settlement and thus it now not has the rights, you’ll ship DMCA takedown notices to the internet websites promoting the ASB variations (see http://publishlawyer.com/protecting-your-copyright/ ). Relying on whether or not ASB recordsdata a counter-notice, this will paintings. (ASB would possibly not record a counter-notice, yet whether or not this methd will paintings relies on whether or not the site accepts your place as legitimate.)

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