Night Shade Books, which has struggled for years, now proposes to sell its assets to Skyhorse Publishing and Start Publishing if its authors will sign off on a deal that might pay amounts currently due authors but dramatically reduces their prospective income from books under existing NSB contracts. SFWA has recommended acceptance.
Michael Stackpole has analyzed the offer in detail and is not inclined to agree:
NSB recently sent a letter to all of their authors announcing that they were in negotiations with Skyhorse Publishing to complete an “acquisition of assets.” In essence, Skyhorse would pick up all their assets, assume none of their liabilities, but would pay NSB a sum of money which, according to the letter, would pay off outstanding debts to authors. If such a sale cannot be completed, NSB states clearly that they’re broke, and that who knows what a Bankruptcy Court will do with author property in any settlement.
I understand that SFWA may be in favor of this settlement because it means that authors will get money. And the vision of books and rights languishing while a bankruptcy court is deciding what to do is horrifying. The reality there is that the books, as assets, could be scooped up by Skyhorse or anyone else at fire sale prices, with the authors getting none of the money they’re owed. At least, in that case, the new owner would be bound by the original terms of the contract, which are decidedly better than these.
The literary agent who writes as The Brillig Blogger thinks the offer lacks credibility:
So the first thing to notice is that the letter starts with a sentence that, um, nightshades the truth: “Night Shade Books has had a difficult time after the demise of Borders.”
Let’s be clear. For all the artistic contributions Night Shade has made to sf literature, it’s had problems paying royalties that go back five years. For those five years, they have repeatedly promised better things, adding new staff or new systems. I can’t call this opening sentence a lie, because Night Shade has certainly had a difficult time after the demise of Borders. But since Night Shade’s authors have have problems with royalties that long predate the final days of Borders, it is disingenuous.
Brilig also recommends a post at Staffers Book Review detailing “what went wrong” with Night Shade’s business practices.
[Thanks to James Bacon for the story.]