On top of complaints of non-payment of advancements and royalties, Vancouver-based Simply Read Books and publisher Dimiter Savoff are facing a number of other allegations by its authors and artists.
Emily and the Mighty Om author Sarah Lolley (who still hasn’t received any advance or royalty payments from Simply Read) says that along with not paying her, the press took six years to publish her book from the time it was accepted and failed to notify her of the title’s release.*
“Members of my family and friends pre-ordered the book on Amazon. My husband received a notification that his book was shipped, and that was how I knew it had been published,” Lolley says. “I’m still unclear on the exact publication date – Amazon Canada states one date, Amazon U.S. states a different one, and the publishers have told me a third date. That’s relevant because for some awards, you are only eligible to apply if your book is published within a certain year.”
Ladner, B.C., author Ashley Spires found it difficult to obtain the original art she’d provided for her titles. She did manage to secure book royalties owed to her, though the money came at least a year and a half later than it was supposed to. She wrote and illustrated the 2009 title Penguin and the Cupcake, and illustrated for Eleri Glass’s The Red Shoes in 2008 and Jennifer Lloyd’s Ella’s Umbrellas in 2010. Similar to Lolley, Spires wasn’t notified when Penguin and the Cupcake was released in a larger format edition; she found out when her mother saw it on a shelf at Indigo.
“It looked great, but they didn’t notify me about that. I sent [Simply Read] an email asking if I could buy some copies from them. I didn’t hear anything, so I ended up having to buy a copy from the store just to get a version of it,” Spires says.
According to Spires, Savoff also neglected to mention he’d sold Penguin to Scholastic for its book fairs and catalogues, or explain what that would mean for the author.
“I think it might have been the U.S. catalogue, but I’m not sure. I still don’t know to this day, and I didn’t even know about it until I saw a fan tweet it, and I was like, ‘Whoa, what? You bought that where?” Spires says. “I sent [Savoff] an email asking, ‘What does that mean?’ For Scholastic book-fair sales, you don’t get a huge percentage, but generally there should be something. One of my books with Kids Can Press was purchased by Scholastic, and Kids Can sent me a form saying, ‘Here’s what’s happening and this is how it works.’ With Simply Read, there’s just no notification.”
Montreal author Anne Renaud, who wrote Missuk’s Snow Geese for Simply Read, also encountered the same problems while seeking payment, author copies, or any correspondence from staff at the publisher.
“I have had to wait months after placing an order before obtaining copies of my book,” Renaud says. “If suppliers have to put up with this same nonsense, this clearly impacts on sales.”
*Correction, June 19: An earlier version of this article stated that Sarah Lolley did not receive the author copies allotted to her in her contract. Lolley received the copies in November. The article also stated that Emily and the Mighty Om illustrator Kaori Kasai was waiting to have original art returned. Kasai has received her art and payment for her work.