Dear Miss Snark

The business news recently had an article on Publishers Group West filing for bankruptcy protection from creditors. PGW had simply not paid anybody - agents, writers, printers, shippers for 3 or 4 months and now claim that was because bankruptcy can demand payments made within the past 90 days be returned. Which is true, although not done very often. The creditors in a bankruptcy have rights to assets, too, so this doesn't automatically release a book right back into the market. Books can also become captive orphans for other reasons.

What's your position on orphan book clauses in contracts?

First of all, PGW doesn't pay authors, writers or agents. PGW is part of AMS which is a distributor. Distributors deal with shippers and publishers.

Second, the news about PGW has been all over the trades for weeks. If you want to know more, just read Publisher's Lunch. Their coverage has been pretty thorough.

The fall out from the AMS bankruptcy will have an impact on authors and agents indirectly. There there are several companies vying to purchase PGW and thus the situation will resolve itself shortly.

I have no idea what you mean by an "orphan book clause". Orphan books are those books at a publisher where the editor has left before publication. It has nothing to do with bankruptcy of a distributor.

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