Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good WBShop. Bad Barnes & Noble

Although my mother is getting stronger and healthier every single day, my stress level the past couple of weeks has been particularly high, and as such, I've devoted a great deal of time to figuring out just what movies to watch. Nothing sad, nothing upsetting, nothing too funny. Just the right amount of distraction without emotional overload.

So when I needed something to exercycle to (my summer of doing so to DVDs of Dallas and Knots Landing having just been completed), naturally I turned to my recent acquisition from the WBShop (or WBishop as I continue to think of it): NUTCRACKER Money, Madness And Murder. Three discs, one for each M. A perfect choice.

Alas, NUTCRACKER, etc. skipped all over the place. Lee Remick would be just about to do something even meaner (the fourth M) when the picture would freeze. That didn't stop me from ploughing my way through all three discs, but it definitely cut down on my viewing pleasure.

So this morning, knowing I had to go to the post office anyway, I gave those lovely people at the WBishop customer service office a call. And you know what those lovely people (well, just one lovely one, but I know she spoke for all of them)said? She said, "Don't even bother to send that nasty defective DVD set back to us. We know and love and trust you, Susan Beth Pfeffer, and we'll send you a brand new non-skipping DVD."

Okay, I'm paraphrasing. But the part about not even having to mail it back and they're sending me a new one was absolutely accurate.

I love you, WBishop. I even love you by your rightful name, WBShop.

My problem with Barnes & Noble is a little more serious one, although it only involves Money, and not Madness or Murder. At least not yet.

One day last week while I was making my morning trip through my Amazon and B&N rankings (only for the Moon books, not all 76 of my titles, so stop snickering), I discovered that B&N had available for downloading my book About David.

At first, I was absolutely delighted. A brand new way for me to make money. I didn't even care that its ranking number didn't exist, which led me to believe maybe no one but me had discovered this wonderful option. That could change at any moment.But then I noticed that B&N was literally giving it away. They were charging $0.00.

I have no idea what my ebook royalty rate on a novel published thirty years ago would be. But I do know that anything times $0.00 equals $0.00. Which means unless B&N made some kind of upfront payment for the ebook rights, that no one had bothered to tell me about,they were stealing my book.

As it happens, a few years back, I switched literary agencies, so the one I work with now didn't represent me when About David was published. I could contact the original agency, but I'm reluctant to. I also don't really feel like contacting anyone at the publishing house.

So I figured I'd call B&N myself, and talk to someone in the Department Of Copyright Theft. It took some googling, but I found B&N's corporate phone number, and I called.

I spoke to a very nice woman who gave me an email address to send my concerns to. I wrote a fine professional sounding email and sent it off. It came back undelivered. So I called the very nice woman again, who gave me a slightly different email address (the difference between "publisher" and "publishing"), which I re-sent my email to, and it came back again. Four times I called B&N. Four times I tried to email them. Four times the email came back.

The very nice woman continued to be very nice, but even though she said she'd try to find the real email address and phone me with it, I never heard from her again.

It makes me think B&N's Department Of Copyright Theft doesn't want to hear from me.

My next step may just be asking my brother the lawyer to sue B&N for me. I'm willing to settle out of court for a billion zillion dollars. One dollar of that would be for their stealing my book, and the rest for emotional damages. Knowing that no one wants a copy of About David even for free has been extremely damaging for my ego!


Elaine Marie Alphin said...

Here's the good news - if you "buy" About David from B&N, you actually get a Google-scanned copy of the Constitution of the State of Arkansas with Marginal Notes. This may irritate your loyal readers, but at least it is not taking money from your pockets.

I thought the news might cheer you up. : ) After all, you didn't write the Constitution of the State of Arkansas, or the marginal notes, for that matter....

Anonymous said...

Of course you should take legal action immediately. This isn't a 'minor' case of infringement according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, (DMCA), this is theft.

Best to make a copy of the B&N page where it appears, now, as evidence. And contact an attorney -- immediately.

Also - B&N is in bad shape, so I wouldn't delay.

Lupe said...

HI Susan,
I don't know much about copyrights of books and such, but if they are stealing your book I would take action and get myself a lawyer right away.

Hope it works out positively! :]


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Elaine Marie Alphin, Anonymous and Lupe and thank you for your support-

Actually, I did write the Constitution of the State of Arkasas.

Okay, maybe I didn't. But I bet with a good lawyer I could make a case that I did!

Kathryn said...

Aww. I read About David back in September, and I thought it was a great book. I hope you get everything sorted out. If it ever becomes a legit "ebook" I'd buy it:]

Nicole said...

Hi Susan, I'm recently a big fan of your Moon Crash books and was wandering if there was going to be any more? They're great! Finished one in 3 days! :)