Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Regnery Paradox

Five writers are suing the parent company of Regnery, the conservative book publisher, saying the company has cheated them out of royalties.

In a suit filed in United States District Court in Washington yesterday, the authors Jerome R. Corsi, Bill Gertz, Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson, Joel Mowbray and Richard Miniter state that Eagle Publishing, which owns Regnery, “orchestrates and participates in a fraudulent, deceptively concealed and self-dealing scheme to divert book sales away from retail outlets and to wholly owned subsidiary organizations within the Eagle conglomerate.”

Some of the authors’ books have appeared on the New York Times best-seller list, including “Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry,” by Mr. Corsi and John E. O’Neill (who is not a plaintiff in the suit), Mr. Patterson’s “Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Compromised America’s National Security” and Mr. Miniter’s “Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush Is Winning the War on Terror.” In the lawsuit the authors say that Eagle sells or gives away copies of their books to book clubs, newsletters and other organizations owned by Eagle “to avoid or substantially reduce royalty payments to authors.”

The authors argue that in reducing royalty payments, the publisher is maximizing its profits and the profits of its parent company at their expense.
It is undoubtedly true that the authors suing Regnery might receive higher cover-price royalties if they wrote best-selling books that were not being sold at steep discounts to conservative book clubs. However, these authors are caught in a logical bind.

If Regnery were not selling these books in bulk to conservative book clubs, the books would not be best sellers. They simply would not sell in large enough numbers to get onto the best-seller list of the New York Times, or any other respectable publication. Frankly, if Regnery thought these books could compete in the free market, it would sell them there so as to make more money for itself and for its authors. The company clearly understands that the only way for these books to gain the status of a best-seller is to sell them in bulk for pennies on the dollar. In doing so, it is trading real dollars for the currency of publicity.

The authors suing Regnery don't seem to understand that if the company stops selling the books in bulk, they will immediately cease to be best sellers. Then, the authors will cease to be of any interest to the bookers who work for Larry King Live, Hannity & Colmes, and Nancy Grace. Then, they will lose any chance they might have had to persuade the viewers of those programs to seek the book out in the actual marketplace. Ironic, isn't it? All these rock-ribbed defenders of the free market owe their livelihoods to a scheme devised to protect them from it. And they are either too stupid to understand this, or too dishonest to admit it to themselves.

After all, if these books had any free-market value, they wouldn't have to be published by Regnery in the first place.

At the end of the day, these authors will be better off sticking with the wingnut welfare that has been putting food on their families all these years. Better to receive pennies on the dollar than nothing at all.