No Honor Among Skeeves

November 7, 2007

Just as Art Buchwald’s lawsuit against Paramount Pictures gave the world its first detailed look at Hollywood accounting practices, so does this lawsuit filed against the parent company of Regnery Publishing — the wingnut sausage factory that brought us the Swift Boat liars screed against John Kerry and an endless stream of anti-Clinton diatribes — promise to open up the inner workings of the right-wing propaganda mill.

The plaintiffs are five Regnery authors who say they have been cheated out of royalties by the Regnery practice of essentially giving away books in order to create the impression that there are millions of readers out there slavering for recycled winger nonsense:

Traditionally, authors receive a 15 percent royalty based on the cover price of a hardcover title after they have sold enough copies to cover the cost of the advance they receive upon signing a contract with a publisher. (Authors whose books are sold at steep discounts or to companies that handle remaindered copies receive lower royalties.)

In Regnery’s case, according to the lawsuit, the publisher sells books to sister companies, including the Conservative Book Club, which then sells the books to members at discounted prices, “at, below or only marginally above its own cost of publication.” In the lawsuit the authors say they receive “little or no royalty” on these sales because their contracts specify that the publisher pays only 10 percent of the amount received by the publisher, minus costs — as opposed to 15 percent of the cover price — for the book.

[Author Richard] Miniter said that meant that although he received about $4.25 a copy when his books sold in a bookstore or through an online retailer, he only earned about 10 cents a copy when his books sold through the Conservative Book Club or other Eagle-owned channels. “The difference between 10 cents and $4.25 is pretty large when you multiply it by 20,000 to 30,000 books,” Mr. Miniter said. “It suddenly occurred to us that Regnery is making collectively jillions of dollars off of us and paying us a pittance.” He added: “Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?”

It’s long been known that conservative foundations and political groups bulk-order wingnut tones in order to inflate sales and lay claim to that coveted “New York Times bestseller” blurb line for advertising and paperback editions. I hope this case doesn’t get settled before some juicy data gets loose.


One Response to “No Honor Among Skeeves”

  1. Caveat Says:

    Wingers – keeping the Robber Baron ethic alive.

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