Book Pirates! Diary of an Amateur Web Sleuth

“Businesses based on theft are falling by the wayside or going legit, and a legal marketplace is showing real signs of promise,” wrote Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO, Recording Industry Association of America, and Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO, Motion Picture Association of America, in The Wall Street Journal on July 1.

Maybe in the world of DVDs, CDs and software.

The genteel world of book publishing is another story.

Sure, the Harry Potter books have been counterfeited and are selling across Asia.

But I was stunned to find that an obscure book written 50 years ago by my father, that’s still under copyright, was appropriated without permission, republished and offered for sale all over the world.

A Copyright Swiped
My father, Alden Hatch, who died in 1975, was the author of over 40 books, mostly biographies.

In my daily travels through the Internet I discovered that a new edition of my father’s 1947 “Franklin D. Roosevelt: An Informal Biography” had been published by a company called Kessinger that’s out of Whitefish, Mont.

My stepmother is my father’s literary heir and owner of all his copyright works. I called her and asked if she had signed a contract for the Roosevelt book.

She said no.

A nice man from Sterling Point Books had contacted her awhile back about the possibility of republishing my father’s biography of General George S. Patton. Only too happy to have a small advance against future royalties, she signed a contract. The book is out with a new title (“Old Blood and Guts”) and a smashing new cover.

But no one contacted her about the Roosevelt book, and she had never heard of Kessinger.

Nor had I.

The Kessinger Web Site
I paid an electronic visit to www.kessinger.net and discovered it bills itself as “Kessinger Publishing’s Rare Reprints—Thousands of Scarce and Hard-to-Find Books.” These range from 465 titles by “Anonymous” to Samuel Zwemer (six titles).

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.
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