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Publisher All Romance Ebooks: Closing Hits New Low In Stealing From Authors

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kobo_ereader_touch_black_frontThe ebook industry has undergone several transitions in the past few years, where authors have become increasingly victimized by e-pirates, vanity presses, and scams designed to keep writers from making money on their intellectual property. Earlier today, December 28, 2016, the industry hit a new low when longtime e-tailer All Romance E-Books (Are), LLC (with its non-romance genre partner Omni Lit) released a surprise notice to its authors and publishers. ARe’s CEO and owner, Lori James, announced that the retailer was closing its doors in three days’ time.

What makes this so terrible is not the fact that they’re closing. What makes this so terrible is how they’re doing it:

We will be unable to remit Q4 2016 commissions in full and are proposing a settlement of 10 cents on the dollar (USD) for payments received through 27 December 2016. We also request the following conditions:
1. That you consider this negotiated settlement to be “paid in full”.
2. That no further legal action be taken with regards to the above referenced commissions owed.

Wait…what?

Let’s break this down. An online retailer is closing down and cannot remit the royalties owed to authors and publishers for the entire fourth quarter of 2016. In lieu of the agreed-upon percentage of 60% of the cover price for each book sold, ARe is proposing that they pay authors TEN CENTS on the dollar of those owed royalties–for books that have already been sold and the money already collected and presumably deposited in the bank account of ARe.

As an author with books listed at ARe and a longtime ebook editor and managing editor at small presses, I am horrified to see this even suggested. Basically, the owners of ARe are telling every author of the thousands of books that were listed for sale as of this morning that they are planning to steal the majority of the royalties they are legally bound to remit.

So what kind of money are we talking here?

Let’s say I have eight books listed for sale at ARe, and each book is listed at $4 cover price. That means I am owed $2.40 for each individual book sold. If I sell 100 copies of each book, that’s $240 royalties owed for each title, for a total of $1920 royalties due for all eight books.

ARe is proposing that I accept $192 in lieu of the royalties they are legally bound to pay me, thereby keeping $1728 for themselves.

Obviously, no sane person would agree to terms like this. After all, ARe already sold and delivered the copies of those books to the customers, already collected the $3200 for the sales of those books, and has the money in its possession currently (or should). So if they can’t pay the royalties although they already received the money for the sales, where did the money go? And why do they expect authors and publishers to agree to this?

It is my sincere hope that we will be able to settle this account and avoid filing for bankruptcy, which would undoubtedly be a prolonged and costly process.

Well of course. That’s reasonable. In lieu of ARe having to deal with a prolonged and costly bankruptcy process, it will be far easier for them to just steal ninety percent of each dollar they owe to every single author whose books are on their site. What a great solution!

Wonder why Wal-Mart doesn’t do that? “Even though we already sold your product online for the last three months, we have decided not to pay you for the units we sold because we don’t want to have to deal with going through bankruptcy court. But we will pay you ten cents on the dollar! Isn’t that nice?”

Oh, that’s right. Wal-Mart doesn’t do that because it’s illegal.

And we’re not talking small amounts here. Despite the exodus of authors and publishers yanking their titles off ARe since the closure was announced, there are still thousands of titles listed there. Some books may never have sold a single copy. Some may have sold thousands of copies per quarter. In fact, owner Lori James had this to say about ARe:
calidreamin2lorijames

Because All Romance stocks titles from over 5000 publishers, from Big 5 to smaller indies to the latest break-out self-published authors, there is something for everyone. Through our Publishing in Partnership program, we bring best-selling original fiction not only to our customers, but those who shop at other retailers as well. Our data-driven approach to publishing means we strive not merely to know the market, but to anticipate the market and ride emerging trends.

Five thousand publishers. Big New York publishing houses, small independent presses, and independent self-published authors.

The big publishing houses will almost certainly get their money. But the small presses and self-published authors are facing a terrible decision. Do writers allow ARe to steal their royalties? Do they submit for convenience’s sake because the owners of ARe aren’t planning to pay those royalties as they are contractually and legally required to do? Or, are writers willing to stand up to this theft and pursue legal recourse, knowing full well they won’t even see that ten cents on the dollar after all is said and done?

Because let’s be for real here. It’s not like ARe’s owners aren’t paying authors because they don’t have the money for the sales. They do have it. They banked all that cash and are now trying to keep it. And by hanging the threat of filing for bankruptcy out there, the company is attempting to threaten authors into agreeing legally to let them retain that money without future legal responsibility.
are-ads
And here’s the million dollar question – what did ARe and its owners actually do with all the money they collected from fourth quarter sales? They haven’t paid the authors, obviously. So where is it?

And what about the authors who prepaid for advertising in 2017? What happened to their money? Just last week, ARe sent out notices soliciting ads for 2017. As you can see from their website, advertising cost anywhere from $50 to $2000 per month.

The mystery deepens.

The Romance Writers of America guild released a statement upon hearing of the news which reads as follows:

RWA was notified today that All Romance eBooks (ARe) is closing effective 12/31/2016. The notice states:

  • All Romance eBooks is unable to remit Q4 2016 commissions and is proposing a settlement of 10 cents on the dollar for sales through 12/27/2016.
  • By accepting, authors consider the settlement as “paid in full” and they agree not to take legal action against All Romance eBooks.
  • There is no offer to pay commissions on sales after 12/27, even though the site will remain open through midnight on 12/31/2016.
  • Companies or individuals wishing to deactivate their accounts before 12/31 can do so by logging into the publisher portal.

RWA finds it unconscionable for the owner of ARe to withhold information so long and to continue selling books through the end of the month when the company cannot pay commissions. RWA contacted ARe but has not yet received a response.

Interestingly, despite sending out those notices on December 28, the All-Romance E-Books, LLC website was not immediately taken down, providing us with a great deal of information on who is behind this latest e-publishing fiasco. CEO Lori James and Administrative Assistant to the CEO Maxwell James are the first two names listed on this privately held company that was founded in 2006. The company’s Linked In profile cites 11-50 employees.

But the mailing address on the website (6252 Commercial Way #145 Weeki Wachee, FL 34613) is different from the one on Linked In (2519 McMullen Booth Road NorthSuite 510-199 Clearwater, FL34685). The website address is actually a virtual office, where for $99 a month anyone can set up a storefront that gives the appearance of an actual physical location. The Linked In address is a strip mall in Clearwater, with numerous restaurants, a Scientology outlet, and a UPS store…among other unrelated businesses. On the privacy page is yet another address: 303 Main Street #186 Safety Harbor, FL 34695 – which is the physical address of a United States Post Office.

californiadreaminglorijamesBut when we checked Lori James’ Linked In profile, she’s nowhere near Florida. In fact, she is in the greater San Diego area according to her profile. In a bio she provided to the California Dreamin’ writers conference, she splits her time between San Diego and the mountains by Big Bear Lake which is, of course, a lovely way to spend one’s time. 

Expensive, too.

So how does a corporation exist in the state of Florida when the CEO and owner is on the opposite side of the country? That’s easy. The physical addresses are a front. Everything is online, and there is no physical office per se. For many online businesses, that’s not a big deal. Honestly, to conduct e-business you don’t really need a physical storefront and your business can still be on the up and up. But to cite three different addresses on the company’s website and all three of them go to a virtual storefront, a UPS store, and a post office – is somewhat suspect, particularly when the owner is literally on the other side of the continental United States. Everything you find online about All Romance E-Books, LLC is designed to create belief in the company as a physical entity and therefore to give a sense of trustworthiness to potential customers and affiliates.

That trust is furthered by ARe’s website, which states:

We’ve worked to give publishers maximum control of their books. Publishers will be able to upload novels and have them instantly available for sale. The publisher will set the price, decide when to offer discounts, choose which file types to offer, and select the heat level and categories.

ARe has no set-up fees and no special formatting requirements. Publishers will earn income on their very first sale, and all sales can be tracked in real time using our secure publisher reporting features.
Best of all, publishers will earn 60% of the retail price on each and every eBook sale.

Bolding is ours. Authors who self-publish their works are considered publishers by ARe, and so they are guaranteed 60% of the cover price on each and every book sale. Again, in perspective, that’s $2.40 for a $4.00 title. The FAQs support this as well:

Q: When do I start earning?
A: You start earning with the very first sale.
Q: What percentage do I get?
A: Publishers will earn 60% of every sale.
Q: How often do I get paid?
A: ARe will release payments quarterly, 45 days following the close of the quarter.

Again, ARe’s alleged business practices are right there on their website, and they are bound to that policy. It’s in plain sight and has been for a decade. That cannot be refuted. What also cannot be refuted is James’s intentions as of  today’s mass email, which is clearly stated below:

If you are willing to accept the offered amount and the terms proposed, please hit the reply on this email keeping the history intact. Change the subject to “Publisher Settlement Acceptance” and copy/paste the acceptance statement below into your email, filling in the fields.

Upon receipt of the signed agreement, I will authorize payment of the settlement amount in full by 28 February 2016 via the method stipulated in your publisher account.

James is giving the author/publisher no other options. You either agree, and ARe will pay you on February 28 (And of course, one can hope that 2016 is a typo and not another attempt to steal those last ten cents on the dollar) or you don’t agree and you don’t get paid. Obviously, the only author/publisher James has any concern for is herself. She certainly doesn’t want to hand over the money from the sales of every book ARe and OmniLit sold through October, November, and December of 2016.

But here’s the real killer – there are even more people who are losing potentially hundreds or thousands of dollars this week. ARe has been open since 2006, and loyal customers have whole libraries of books that they access through the ARe site instead of using physical storage on their personal technology. Those customers are being told they have three days to back up their books, because the sites will be closed down in their entirety. Loyal customers for a decade could lose their entire library of books purchased through ARe if they don’t realize that the site is closing at the end of the year.

As for the authors who published through ARe and have publishing contracts that tie up their intellectual property rights, the company has offered them the following choice. They can get their rights back, but in order to do so they agree to not receive a penny of their earnings from the 4th quarter of 2016. To these authors, there really isn’t a choice. If All Romance E-Books,LLC goes into bankruptcy, it’s not just their royalties that are tied up for years. It’s their IP rights also, and they will not be able to re-issue or publish their books until their titles are released by the creditors in bankruptcy court.

So who hasn’t ARe screwed over with this move? Let’s see…Publishing houses will lose a quarter’s worth of profits. Authors will lose 90% of each dollar they earned and that’s only if they agree to the company’s strong arm tactic threatening bankruptcy. If they don’t agree, they lose 100% of their royalties. Customers who stored books they purchased from ARe will lose their entire libraries unless they physically back up their books on e-readers or their computers.

Authors and publishers who paid for 2017 advertising will lose the money they prepaid for those services. And authors unfortunate enough to have published through ARe’s publishing service will lose not only their royalties, but the rights to their intellectual property as well.
Authors who published through ARe can either get the rights to their books back, or ten cents on the dollar of their royalties. One or the other…take your pick.

big_bear_lake_ca_usa_-_panoramio_4

Big Bear Lake California–a beautiful and expensive place to live

In fact, the only involved party ARe is not screwing over appears to be its owner. Lori James, the CEO of All Romance E-Books, LLC will probably continue to write romance under the pseudonym of Samantha Sommersby and urban fantasy as SJ Harper while splitting her time between San Diego and Bear Lake in California, and evidently will do so while the company she owns retains possession of ninety percent of all the royalties earned by thousands of authors in the final quarter of 2016.

ARe must have had a great Christmas holiday, planning for this move. Ho ho ho and bah humbug to you too.

For the average reader, this retailer closing may not seem like a big deal. But for the authors with books listed through ARe – an online retailer who is still selling books at this moment with the clearly expressed intention of never paying the authors of those works their full royalties – this is yet another disaster. Whereas indie authors with the ‘right’ connections at Amazon are cheerfully manipulating the sales algorithms to ensure that their works are given preferential treatment over the thousands of other authors in their genres, a retailer who claimed to be above all that favoritism has closed its doors and stolen hundreds or thousands of dollars from each writer and publishing house that worked with it.

In fact, we may never know how much money ARe and its owners have absconded with exactly. That is probably a matter for the courts to determine. And it certainly seems like there is some strong legal basis here to charge the company and its owners (listed in some places as a partnership) with fraud or online theft. At the very least a breach of fiduciary duty. As ebook sales cross over all fifty states and even international borders, there may be taxation issues as well.

There is an underlying lack of legal protections for authors, their intellectual property, and their income in this country. Publishers, false agents, and retailers continue to run these long-term scams, sucking the unwary into their webs and milking them for every dime. But what makes this case stand out is the egregious bullying tone of its owner’s statement to the authors she stole from, and the utter lack of concern James and ARe display for anyone outside of their own personal interests. And sure, most of the authors whose money just vanished into the ether surrounding those multi-million dollar properties in a Big Bear Lake vacation community may be out ten bucks at most.

But that’s not the point.The point is that a retailer announced today that it was stealing the money it’s received for three months’ worth of book sales and has no intention of fulfilling its fiduciary responsibility to the authors whose intellectual property they sold. A retailer has basically committed fraud and has no evident fear of being challenged or behind held responsible legally, either on a criminal or civil level. And unfortunately, that’s probably true. They’ll get away with it, and Lori James will continue to spend part of her time at Big Bear Lake, where she will enjoy the benefits of running a company who blatantly stole from the authors whose books she sold.

Authors and publishers who are not interested in letting All Romance E-Books, LLC get away with this monstrous scaled theft do have legal options. The main thing they can do is to contact the Attorney General’s office in the State of Florida, the state where the company ostensibly exists as a legal entity, or file a complaint against Lori James and All Romance E-books, LLC here. Authors and publishers can also contact the Department of Justice and report James and ARe for fraud. Authors who published through ARe can also contact the DoJ for intellectual property crimes  as well. Authors and publishers based in California can also launch a civil case against James, as the owner, if they so desire.

If enough of the injured parties in this latest travesty of e-publishing start the wheels turning, the Attorney General’s office and Department of Justice may look into the matter. If that happens, then ARe’s sales records and books will be subpoenaed and authors can at least find out why a company who had the money in hand after three months of sales suddenly determined it wouldn’t be able to pay the royalties it was legally obligated to pay.

Tonight as I conclude this post, I have the ARe site open to multiple tabs. Not just because I’m quoting and citing from their own publicly published material about their business practices and obligations, but because I’m watching the internet store. I’m looking at books from all genres, still available for sale although ARe is refusing to pay the author their share of any sale in the next few days. I’m looking at books that authors paid to advertise on the site, flashing in the sidebars or in special windows – still available for sale, still advertised as if the site will still be up on January 1. I’m looking at the tab entitled “My Library”, where on January 1 customers’ entire libraries will suddenly evaporate into the online ether, never to be found again.

I’m looking at thousands of books by thousands of authors who were informed today that a retailer they trusted to sell their intellectual property has decided instead to steal their royalties, and then dared them to do anything about it.

I’m looking at scores of books I edited for writers ranging from debut authors to NYT/USA Today bestsellers, whose reward for the months or sometimes years of work they dedicated to their craft is to have their royalties stolen by an outlet who was supposed to make them money, not take it.

I was looking at my books before my tech guru took them down from the site. My eight books listed on Omni-Lit, ARe’s non-romance arm. Eight fantasy novels. I released one book per month for the past eight months and that is a LOT of work. And in the past three months, every $4 ARe received for a sale of one of my titles is staying with ARe and Lori James. Not in one of the many addresses they listed as their physical address on their website. Not in the state of Florida, where their virtual storefront was allegedly located. No. In California, splitting their time between San Diego and Big Bear Lake.

Hell no, I’m not agreeing to ten cents on the dollar. I don’t care if ARe only owes me two bucks (which is probably about what they owe me as I do not write romance). I’m not going to agree, legally, to let them steal that two dollars. I’m contacting the Florida Attorney General’s office and the Department of Justice, and if you’re an author with ARe titles, I advise you to do the same. No one looks out for the indie author or the small press author. We’ll have to do it ourselves.

So share this article with your fellow authors. Share the information on your social media. Tell your brothers and sisters what to do, and why they shouldn’t agree like sheep to let ARe keep the royalties they legally owe them. Two dollars or twenty, two hundred or two thousand – it’s time to stand up for ourselves and each other. Enough is enough.

Authors should not be victims. Authors should be advocates. And then perhaps we’ll all get together at Big Bear Lake and throw a party. We may never see a dime of our money after a “long, costly bankruptcy”.  But we can throw one hell of a celebratory bash if by banding together, we finally compel the legal system to come down on one of these publishing predators for the fraud, intellectual property theft, and breach of fiduciary duty they have perpetrated on our entire industry.

In fact, let’s have that party at Big Bear Lake. We may only get to drink water from the lake, but it’ll taste like Dom Perignon as we tell Lori James and All Romance E-Books, LLC what they can do with their ten cents on the dollar. Judging from the responses I’m seeing from writers all over the internet, I’m not the only author with definite ideas on the anatomical probabilities of “shove it up your…”

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About Celina Summers

Celina Summers is a speculative fiction author who mashes all kinds of genres into one giant fantasy amalgamation. Her first fantasy series, The Asphodel Cycle, was honored with multiple awards--including top ten finishes for all four books in the P&E Readers' Poll, multiple review site awards, as well as a prestigious Golden Rose nomination. Celina also writes contemporary literary fantasy under the pseudonym CA Chevault. Celina has worked as an editor for over a decade, including managing editor at two publishing houses. Celina blogs about publishing, sports, and politics regularly. A well-known caller on the Paul Finebaum Show and passionate football fan, when Celina takes times off it's usually on Saturdays in the fall. You can read her personal blog at www.kaantira.blogspot.com and her website is at www.cachevault.org
  • Alessia Brio
  • Alessia Brio

    Oh, and to answer at least one of your questions, the CFO for ARe is a Florida resident. I presume the tax laws are more favorable in Florida, which is why the business is headquartered there. It’s been that way since its inception.

    • Jarin

      Bush, Crist and Scott have done their best auction that state to the highest bidder for the past two decades. Its business and tax laws were basically written by corporate interests.

  • Tymber Dalton

    And yes, in Florida there’s no personal income tax, and corporate taxes are lax. So probably a very good reason they filed here compared to California. That is IF her bio is correct and she’s really living in CA and not here in FL.

    • Lee Rowan

      Lori James was in California back when Linden Bay Romance was in operation. Barb Perfetti, the other publisher, was in FL, which was where the company was – no doubt for financial advantages.

  • Laura Susan Johnson

    I’m pissed. I sold 4 books during the first quarter of 2016. That’s over $9 I’m owed. $0.10 on my $9. Bullshit! I want my $9+ as they agreed when I entrusted my work to them!

  • J.M. Snyder

    They owe us $5k, so there’s no way I’m settling. I’ve already contacted my attorney. This is ridiculous.

  • Jason

    Bankruptcy has a claw back provision that would allow funds to be recovered from owners, employees, and any favorite customers. They want people to agree so they can keep any funds.

  • Lee Rowan

    Class action suit time?

    • wendolen

      My thought exactly.

  • Sterling Rivers

    I will lose $2500. I was depending on that money to survive. The smaller authors will be hit hard

  • Booklover

    Good for you! I’d like to see people take action against this. Readers’ libraries are already disappearing (ie. HarperCollins and other DRM-protected ebooks) as publishers and authors are pulling their books, so some have already lost ebooks they hadn’t backed up, plus there’s a debate about DRMed ebooks that were already downloaded and what will happen with the app that won’t be supported anymore. One person commented on another blog that she can’t open hers anymore. I never received any email telling me they were closing and to back up my library, and I know several other buyers who haven’t, either. If not for Facebook, I wouldn’t have had any warning. Other readers are reporting that they bought ebucks recently, when you know that ARe knew they were closing, not to mention the email that went out to authors a few days ago to sell them 2017 advertising. I suggest that anyone who paid any money on preorders, ebucks they can’t use, or advertising in the past 60 days, file a dispute with their credit card company, which is perfectly legal to do if you didn’t receive the product you paid for. I hate seeing anymore money going to them, especially if it’s not going to the authors and publishers it should.

  • Charlayne Denney

    I wasn’t due any money (luckily or unluckily, take your pick). I did go up, pull my books and the descriptions last night when this broke. I’m sad for those who have royalties coming.

    I was interested in the legal things, I would help out by reporting them to the authorities but I’m not sure, since I didn’t lose any money this quarter, if it would be taken. Anyone know if it’s worth doing?

    • Persia

      I’m in the same boat.

      • Tabbygray

        I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned this already but as she’s very likely been lying about everyone’s sales for probably two years, it might be worth trying.

        • Persia

          I haven’t had anything new in ages, but you never know.

  • Celina Summers

    The story is getting bigger. I will have more information to share in a second installment later today or tomorrow…as soon as I get all my research lined up and confirmed. WHATEVER YOU DO, GET WITH OTHER AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS AND FILE A COMPLAINT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER ARe OWES YOU $5 OR $5000. Believe me–there’s a lot more going on here than I originally anticipated or realized.

    • Jarin

      Can’t wait to hear. This is despicable already. Thank you for staying on this.

    • Vivian Lane

      Looking forward to the update.

    • Cathryn Cade

      Thanks so much for digging deeper!

    • Vivian Lane

      Still planning to update today?

  • Ami

    I am not an author, but as a reader who has bought books there since 2010, aside from the lost of my library I also suffered from the fact that I had EBUCKS there for almost 100 dollars and they “forced” me to use it all at once, or lose them all. At the same time, authors and publishers are taking down their titles. So it’s like I am forced to shop for the things I don’t want or need. On top of that, as a reader, I also face a dilemma, because I know that the money I spent will not be given to the authors since purchases from 28-31 December are not acknowledged by ARe as part of the Q4 income royalty.

    • Booklover

      If you bought the ebucks in the last 60 days, I wouldn’t spend them but try to dispute the charge with your credit card company or file a complaint along with the authors.

      • Ami

        Considering that I’m a reader from Indonesia, I don’t think this will be an easier route.

        • moon arabesque

          It usually just takes a call to your credit card company. Occasionally they’ll send you a form to fill out.

    • Jules Radcliffe

      If you do buy books during this time, give the author a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or any site that will let you do reviews without purchase. Reviews are incredibly valuable to authors and it’s a way of giving them something back.

  • Lynda Belle

    I got my email yesterday too, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Luckily, I hadn’t been posting up new books and my three books up weren’t earning much. I had one sell in the last quarter which would give me $0.59 since it was at $0.99. The deal would give me a nickel. I understand your pain of the writing process. To be screwed like this, no matter how much is owed, can’t be allowed. It will set a precedence that Indie authors and small presses, or any publisher, can’t allow. I do live in California. Thank you for the links. I’m going to add them to my post about this and see what can be done. I’m also going back and taking screen shots of everything before the site is taken down. More than likely we’ll need that. I’ve already deactivated my books. I doubt they would sell since word has gotten out, but I know a lot of readers are using their free “Bucks” earned to get books. So, no matter what, it’s better to take your books down and let people know they should buy now from a better retailer. Everyone is losing out in this, readers, authors and small publishers. The only person not, and she painted herself as a victim, is the CEO. And yes, California is really expensive to live in no matter where you are.

  • Candi Kay

    Thank you for the informative post and the links. I’ve complained to the Attorney General’s office in Florida. Like everyone else I felt like I was kicked in the stomach when I received that email. And strangely the 4th quarter of 2016 was my most successful on ARe since I started publishing 2-plus years ago. The 10 cents on the dollar offer is more than a slap in the face. I’m also a reader and it angers me that I bought books with the thought that the authors would receive the royalties off the purchases when in reality I was just giving it to ARe and Lori James.

  • It’s not often that I’m relieved that I haven’t earned a cent on any given channel, but… right now I’m very relieved. I always found ARE annoying as heck to use, so I never put much effort into it. Phew!

  • Vivian Lane

    They owe me $1.79, assuming the numbers reported are correct. I’m in CA and I’m not taking the deal, though I didn’t get a letter.

  • Cathryn Cade

    Thank you for this wonderful expose! I hope the authors who will be harmed by ARe’s actions will get together and sue.

  • Cathryn Cade

    And now, let’s add insult to injury! I finally was able to get on the ARe site to close my publisher account. I found this lovely notice instead …

    ‘Your account access has been temporarily suspended.
    Due to new tax accounting requirements we must verify that all publishers and affiliates have correct and current tax/contact information on file.
    Our records indicate that some of your information is missing or requires updating and/or annual verification.

    Please email our Senior Accountant, Shannon Hull. She can unlock your account so that you can update your contact information AND complete your on-line tax profile. Shannon can be reached at shannon.hull@allromanceebooks.com.’

    May I just say, WTF?? Now I can’t even suspend my account? This guarantees that they can continue to sell my books until they close, and I can’t do a damn thing about it!

    Who has a class action suit ready? I’m in.

    • Mark Jones

      I’ve been getting that message whenever I tried to log in for a couple of years now. Fortunately, it started only *after* I’d already pulled all my books from the site, when I would occasionally consider going back. Fortunately, they never responded to my emails so I didn’t.

    • Regan Taylor

      Try the public law center in Los Angeles for an attorney. They do plaintiff class actions.

  • Celina Summers

    If you are looking for a group of authors to work with in a potential lawsuit against Lori James and All Romance E-Books, LLC — there is a Facebook group just started at https://www.facebook.com/groups/212976702443743/ that is already working with an attorney on a potential case.

    • Cathryn Cade

      Thanks Celina!

    • Thanks, Celina.

  • Rachel Leigh Smith

    I’m indie, and pulled everything but a box set over a year ago. I despise their back-end and all of the stupid hoops you have to jump through. Since I hated it so much, I never promoted it so I never gained traction there. I’m so glad I made that choice.

    They don’t owe me anything. If they did, though, I wouldn’t sign the agreement.

    Right now, the site is cooperating and letting me in to delete my few remaining files. After this, I don’t trust them not to steal them.

  • Kat A Barrett

    I don’t publish through ARe, but after reading this article I feel horrible for those who do. I’ve often wondered how we actually know how many books we have sold. We are at the mercy of the publisher’s honesty. This is a disgraceful display of breach of contract and also trust. I hope you kick their asses and give the CEO what she deserves.

  • Lee Rowan

    Author Isobel Starling has suggested filing a complaint of internet fraud here, before Dec 31. https://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx/

  • Nicki Greenwood

    I’m fortunate not to be personally affected by this travesty, even though I have books available via ARE’s outlet, but I have seen so many fellow authors affected by horrible sudden shutdowns, and it disgusts me. I understand that businesses can fail, but there is a RIGHT way to close your doors…and then there’s this. Thanks for providing some research and places for people to take action!

  • Abiatha Swelter

    A retailer goes out of business and doesn’t pay what they owe? Retailers and distributors have been doing this as long as there have been retailers and distributors. I can tell you from experience that if you they go into bankruptcy and you get ten cents on the dollar of what the owe you, you are doing pretty well.

    • Madame Hardy

      But ARE is trying to get the benefits of filing for bankruptcy without filing for bankruptcy. If you file for bankruptcy, a court gets to decide who gets the remaining money. If you tell people “I’m not giving your money back”, no court gets to check your finances and make sure debts are being paid in proper priority order.

      • Regan Taylor

        Exactly … and pretty much every small press and e-retailer that has gone out of business has given the “Triskelion threat”…the I’m going to file bankruptcy if I don’t get my way. Go ahead, ruin your credit … even if it is an LLC it eventually does come down to the individual owner. Over and over they threaten to file bankruptcy….how many followed through on the threat? None but Triskelion.

      • Kristina Frazier-Henry

        And let’s not forget – they ran some heavy duty promotions (gift cards, ebucks) throughout all of December. Figuring out that you’re not going to be solvent isn’t a situation that can be diagnosed in a week’s time. In other words, lots of deceptive practices going on here.

        • Persia

          They had a big Boxing Day promotion.

      • Just my opinion

        Sounds a lot like fraud to

  • Kristina Frazier-Henry

    I am a long time customer who has approximately 2200 books that I have purchased over the years. I have only been able to pull down 230 thus far (backing up to another cloud service). I actually have a job so my time to download the remainder of my books over the next two days will be limited. I devastated that I am potentially going to be losing thousands of dollars in books that I purchased.

    I won’t even get in to the ebucks and the group-on certificates that I had planned on redeeming after the first of the year.

    This whole situation makes me sick.

    • Vivian Lane

      A lot of authors are offering to replace copies.

    • Angie

      Yes contact author’s of the books that you can. Alot have said they’ll replace the books people lose, for free

    • Rachel Leigh Smith

      We as authors have been deleting our files from the store, because we don’t trust Lori James not to steal them. The ones you remember the authors of, do contact them and let them know the situation. Many of them will replace the file for you.

      Same goes for preorders. Most authors and small presses will make sure you get the book you paid for.

      • Fabian Black

        I just tried to delete some of my files, but there is no longer a delete option next to uploaded files, it seems the best you can do is deactivate the title.

        • Rachel Leigh Smith

          They probably realized what we were doing and disabled it. Although, it was gone for a little while yesterday but when I logged in yesterday evening the option was there so I deleted everything I could.

          • Fabian Black

            Just checked again and I still can’t delete uploaded files. Thanks for replying. So sad that indie authors get kicked in the teeth time and again and usually from folks we placed our trust in.

  • Ami

    I just realized that Harlequin books that I purchased from ARe (and I knew I bought them, during their celebration this year, where the prices went down) are not even there on my library. Poof. GONE.

    • Carol Cobun

      If you still have your receipt emails contact the publisher or author. Most are honoring your purchases if you have proof.

  • SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) is on the case through its griefcom initiative. It’s a shameful way to end and leave writers hanging out to dry.

  • Maud St James

    When I first started self-pubbing several years ago I tried to upload to ARe – it was one of the worst, most unprofessional, most unpleasant experiences I’ve had since becoming a professional writer some 40 years ago. While I hated to miss out on what was then a lucrative market, I wanted nothing to do with people like that and did not list my self-pubbed books with them at all. Now it looks as if that were a stroke of luck for me. I grieve for those who are caught in their toils and hope karma strikes every person in that operation. Quickly.

  • Lily Lee

    A search of the Florida Department of State produces the following:

    http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=ALLROMANCEEBOOKS%20L060000634480&aggregateId=flal-l06000063448-14a74a77-3805-442e-9817-670f1800c32a&searchTerm=all%20romance%20ebooks%2C%20llc&listNameOrder=ALLROMANCEEBOOKS%20L060000634480

    Principal Address
    3828 Falcon Street
    San Diego, CA 92103

    Mailing Address
    6252 Commercial Way #145
    Weeki Wachee, FL 34613

    Changed: 03/04/2016
    Registered Agent Name & Address
    Teichman Law Firm
    100 North Tampa Street
    Suite 2435
    Tampa, FL 33602

    Authorized Person(s) Detail
    Name & Address

    Title MGR
    JAMES, LORI
    3828 FALCON STREET
    SAN DIEGO, CA 92103

  • Lily Lee

    I’m a reader, but I think in this case ARe has defrauded both authors (royalties) and readers (unused credit and undownloadable buys). And from what I could find online, the corporate veil of the LLC can be pierced if there is comingling of the finance of the owner (Lori James) and the business (ARe), in which case the owner of the LLC may be sued personally. Seems to me that the probability of comingling would be high.

    If a class action is filed, I hope there will be a gofundme account for costs. I for one would donate to that.

  • Fabian Black

    Earlier on today (UK time) I went on ARe to delete some of the titles I have listed with them. I deleted some files and then went back a bit later to delete the rest, only to find that the delete option for uploaded files is no longer available. You can still deactivate titles, but that leaves your files still uploaded to their site.

    • Katelyn Sweigart

      Probably because people are frantically trying to download their already-bought libraries, and removing your books entirely makes them unable to do so?

      • Celina Summers

        If you purchased a copy of a book, it should be on your cloud with the company. The sales files wouldn’t affect your personal library. And there’s absolutely no reason for authors who’ve just been told the company is stealing all their royalties from the past three months should keep their sales files on the site. That’s just ludicrous. Authors absolutely must remove their sales files. Quite honestly, not removing them is just begging for their intellectual property to continue to be stolen by Lori James and her predatory practices.

  • Though I think a class action suit is admirable and will hopefully improve transparency over what’s going on, I’d be very concerned for anyone going into it expecting to find ARe has any money available to pay out. Businesses that have operated solvently for ten years don’t stop paying contractors for no reason; they stop paying because someone bigger and scarier is demanding the money more loudly. Banks, the IRS, landlords, utilities etc. ARe has already spent those royalties trying to stay afloat, has accepted defeat, and is hoping to avoid bankruptcy for reasons best known to themselves. I’d like to know those reasons (mingling of personal and business finances? Plans to start a new business with loans they wouldn’t get as bankrupts? IRS issues? Misjudged pride?), and I think a class action suit would reveal them, but authors and publishers are at the bottom of a long list of creditors either way, and if they do go bankrupt it’s doubtful you’ll see even 10%

    Tl:dr a class action suit is a good idea, but for those authors who are being thrown into financial distress by the 10%, joining the suit may leave you even worse off.

    • Celina Summers

      Allowing a predator to steal 90% of every author’s royalties without penalty or fear just because they “may” be worse off after a suit? That’s why predators like ARe exist–because of those who advise victims of out and out theft that it may be just too inconvenient to fight against being stolen from. Sorry, but this kind of BS does authors everywhere a huge disservice. Huge.

      • I’m very much in favour of a suit, I’m just concerned for that a lot of authors talking about how ARe’s treachery means they’re going to struggle to pay rent are having this suit dangled in front of their noses like it’ll solve that. Lawsuits are inconvenient, deliberately so. They are expensive, and time consuming, and involve a lot of compromise, and the whole system is stacked in favour of the predators because they designed it, so they get a much easier ride than the people trying to get justice.

        Not everyone who’s been screwed over by ARe can afford that financially, emotionally or practically right now, and I feel like a lot of people online are being willfully blind to the fact that money is almost certainly not there any more. You need to go into the lawsuit with that in mind – do it for justice, for closure, and for transparency. Don’t do it expecting to see a penny from ARe.

    • Lily Lee

      Yeah, that’s why I’d hope anyone suing would name Lori James personally as well as ARe. If she comingled the company’s funds with her personal funds, or spent money on herself out of company coffers, she’d be on the hook personally. While ARe might be bankrupt, I doubt she is, what with raking in millions over the past few years (she claimed in that 2009 web article that they had just almost 3 million in sales that year – http://publishingperspectives.com/2009/12/whats-hot-in-romance-e-books-baby/) and it must have been a good few years after that, at least. I’m pretty sure once a lawsuit is started, you can use the court’s authority during the discovery process to subpoena her records, both business and personal, to check where all the money went.

      • Article’s gone, sadly. The ARe announcement suggests 2016 was the first year they made a loss, so though I’m sure numbers were decreasing since the boom days they do appear to have stayed in the black until relatively recently. Normally you’d expect a business that age to weather a single year’s loss, which suggests either it was (a) huge or (b) something that they felt they had absolutely no hope of turning around. Or, of course, it could be (c) firing their CFO and LJ paying herself both a salary and distributions. Writer’s Beware flagged this up, which is very interesting, but the case was dismissed for lack of prosecution.

        • Lily Lee

          Not sure why the link doesn’t work (I just tried it myself) but if you google Lori James and allromanceebooks the fourth or fifth response will be the article, and that link from google still works..

  • Carol Cobun

    And it’s not just our libraries that us readers will lose. Quite a few of us have ebucks there that we paid money to them for use in future purchases. And all the preorders that were paid for and now will never be received.

  • British authors who have lost money. Please file a report with the Uk Fraud and Cyber Crime unit to get this investigated. http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

    • Fabian Black

      Thanks for this. As a Brit I was wondering how to proceed. I’m owed just short of a hundred dollars, not a big deal compared to some, but an important part of my income non the less. Like many authors I will replace ebooks recently bought through ARe that readers have not been able to download from the site.

  • Celina Summers
  • Quinn Anderson

    Posting this here too: If anyone ordered “Hotline” by Quinn Anderson and had it disappear from their library, email me your receipt, and I will give you an e-copy of my book in the format of your choice.

    quinnandersonwrites@gmail.com

  • kawy

    Lori James also writes under the pseudonym Jeanne Stein, according to Copyright.gov. The 2013 copyright record for “Reckoning” by Jeanne Stein reads “S. J. Harper, pseud. of Jeanne Stein (author of pseudonymous work); Citizenship: United States. Authorship: text.
    Samantha Sommersby writing as S. J. Harper, pseud. of Lori James (author of pseudonymous work); Citizenship: United States. Authorship: text.”

    Several of the older copyright records for Lori James books list a San Diego address, but that house appears to have been sold in April 2016.

  • Linda J Grubbs

    Filing bankruptcy in the State of Florida exempts some property that is confiscated in other states……just an FYI. It’s why OJ Simpson moved there and kept his mansion.

  • Fabian Black

    Have just followed a link given by a reader on the Passive Voice blog. It enabled me to access my ARe publisher dashboard. I checked my titles and it looks like all the files have been deleted.
    https://www.allromanceebooks.com/publishers/reports.php

  • Lori Robinett

    Unfortunately, I’d bet a lot of authors do agree to this, figuring it’s not worth the fight. I sincerely hope ARe does get a fight, though, because this sets a dangerous precedence.

  • Pietro7

    You need to file a class-action lawsuit against Lori James personally, and put liens against both of those mansions she owns in California. Make this seriously about the money, and involve lots of authors through the class-action, and I’ll bet Ms. James changes her tune.

  • Fabian Black

    ARe’s closures made it into the Guardian newspaper in the UK.
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jan/04/allromancecoms-sudden-closure-hits-authors-hard

    The report makes the closure sound like it’s mainly due to market forces, not something I totally agree with.

  • Celina Summers

    I will be interviewed by Al Jazeera-America this afternoon regarding the ARe shutdown and predatory publishing industry practices. With the MSM starting to take notice, it’s time for all authors and small presses and readers too to really keep the interest generating. Get the word out via social media and your personal blogs about how YOU were personally affected. And send me your stories–I’d like to do a follow up this week with individuals who’ve been impacted by this and how they are reacting.

    • Tina March

      Hello Celina,I’m a reader and had over4,000 books on my Library with Allromance.If it wasn’t for the fact I have JR Loveless on my Facebook I wouldn’t have known about the closure,in the end I was lucky to be able to download half of my books but it was very difficult with glitches on the site.I estimate that I lost about Three thousand pounds with the closure.It doesn’t make for a trusting buyer’s market and I can only imagine how you as Author’s feel.It wasn’t the money that I lost,some of those books were like old friends,always there for a pick me up if needed and some cannot be replaced.So cross and sad for everyone caught up in this.Shame that you can’t buy directly from every author,would at least offer some protection to both parties and protect yourselves from Ratbags like Lori James.

    • Hi, I am a reader and I too lost 1000+ books. I was in the woods camping and could not spend the 3 days downloading to dropbox. This was where I was notified about new books. really just sick about it. I know I should have back up my library. Never could figure out calibre ebook, since I was not download to a computer but an ipad. Guess I need to now. Just really sick.

      here is my earlier post

      4 days to download all my purchased books from the last 5+ years. I lost 1000+ books. I got the email and was out in the woods camping with limited internet access. I wrote them back and this was the response.

      “Perhaps you can find someone to do that for you. At this time, we are unable to offer download assistance for prior purchases.”

      Really…. that is BS… if they would have given 30 days, I’d be sad vs pissed. I’m pissed. I don’t know where I will buy books. I like ePub vs kindle and iBooks. GRRRR

      I bought 15 to 20 books a month. Grr Grr Grr.

  • 4 days to download all my purchased books from the last 5+ years. I lost 1000+ books. I got the email and was out in the woods camping with limited internet access. I wrote them back and this was the response.

    “Perhaps you can find someone to do that for you. At this time, we are unable to offer download assistance for prior purchases.”

    Really…. that is BS… if they would have given 30 days, I’d be sad vs pissed. I’m pissed. I don’t know where I will buy books. I like ePub vs kindle and iBooks. GRRRR

    I bought 15 to 20 books a month. Grr Grr Grr.