The board of the American Quilter’s Society made a decision last week to close the company’s book publishing division. In a letter to authors from AQS co-founder and president Meredith Schroeder stated, “It is with a great deal of regret that I am notifying you that the American Quilter’s Society will no longer be publishing new books…I am sorry to see it come to this, but I know you are aware of all the changes in technology in the publishing industry.” AQS executive show director, Bonnie Browning, went further in a Facebook post, “Today there is so much free instruction available online that it is very hard for a book business to compete with free. AQS will continue being a membership organization with 6 issues of American Quilter magazine, discounts on merchandise and shows, and we will be doing 6 shows in 2017.”
Fall books that were previously scheduled for publication will come out on schedule, but there will be no new books for spring.
AQS was a major player in quilt book publishing world. Their author roster includes industry leaders including Nancy Crow and Gwen Marston, among many others. The news was met with disappointment and trepidation by authors who had worked with the company. “As an author of two books published by AQS, I am extremely disappointed,” one said.
AQS is now in the process of liquidating their book stock. In a letter authors were told they have the option to buy their books at a 75% off the retail price plus shipping and handling now through September 1. At that time AQS will “liquidate these books by whatever means possible, which includes, but not limited to, giving them away as a premium, selling them to a remainder house, or selling them at a greatly reduced price.” Authors will get a 5% royalty on the net selling price.
Authors own the copyright for their work, but AQS owns the publishing rights, meaning the design and layout of the books. If authors would like to purchase the publishing rights they can do so at cost of $20 per page ($1,920 for a 96 page book, for example). AQS will send a DVD of the book file which authors are free to use elsewhere including uploading the file to a print-on-demand company such as Amazon’s CreateSpace.
This deal struck some as upsetting. “The options they are offering are downright depressing,” one author said.
Book agent Kate McKean explains that what AQS is doing is in line with the standard for the book publishing industry. “It’s called remaindering…It’s not fun of course, because when it comes to this point the book isn’t selling for anyone. Publishers are taxed on the stock that sits in their warehouses,” she explains. “A publisher liquidating books is not necessarily ‘taking advantage’ of its authors. They’re making a business decision…publishing is a business. I’m sure they feel that if the publisher did more marketing there would be more sales, but that’s not always true, either, and that costs money that these books aren’t making. It’s a vicious cycle. So it goes.”
Still, some authors feel left out in the cold. “”Feeling like all my hard work and creativity is all for naught,” one said. “Where do I go from here?”