Finance

Book publisher collapses into liquidation, an estimated 50 authors owed money

Eloise Keating /

 

A Melbourne-based book publisher that has been accused of duping its authors has been placed in voluntary liquidation.

JoJo Publishing has published books by more than 250 authors since it was founded in 2002.

The business charges some authors a fee to publish their books, which is a different model to traditional book publishing and sometimes referred to as “vanity” publishing.

However, the liquidators of the business estimate more than 50 authors may now be owed money.

JoJo Publishing entered liquidation on September 28, with Stephen Dixon and Ahmed Bise of Grant Thornton appointed to manage the liquidation of Classic Author and Publishing Services, which traded under the name Classic-Jojo.

Also under administration is the related entity Publishers Consortium Pty Ltd, which traded under the name JoJo Publishing.

Dixon confirmed to SmartCompany this morning the companies have ceased trading.

The JoJo Publishing website is also offline.

Dixon says the liquidators are still investigating the financial position of the two companies, including how much money is owed to creditors.

“That’s the difficult thing because there is the author element to it,” he says.

“We estimate there could in excess of 50 authors, we are still trying to establish the amount.”

Dixon describes the business as a “fairly small operation”, with the companies employing two employees, plus the company director, Barry Dorr.

In September, an investigation by the ABC Radio National program Background Briefing aired allegations from more than 30 authors who said they were deceived after having invested between $9000 and $35,000 of their own money to having books published.

The group of authors is reportedly considering legal action against JoJo Publishing.

Responding to the claims made in the ABC report, Dorr said in a statement his publishing business has had “only a few authors” who have been upset over the past two years.

“Our approach to publishing is fully transparent and discussed at length with new authors and well documented,” Dorr said.

“Due to risk factors, not all authors can fit into the model of receiving an advance and royalties – although many have this arrangement with us. These authors, who would not find publishers elsewhere, may enter into a business arrangement where they make a capital investment and share in the profits.”

“Our publishing venture has provided authors with the opportunity to have their books published, distributed and marketed in ways they would not have otherwise had. If they have a business arrangement with us and make a loss, then we make a loss too.”

According to Books+Publishing, the JoJo Publishing’s creditors include several book distributors, as well as authors.

One contractor told Books+Publishing they are owed more than $5000 for work completed for JoJo, while author Linda Maree Malcolm said in a blog post she was scheduled to attend a Small Business Commission mediation hearing with the business prior to the appointment of liquidators.

Malcolm, the author of Oracle in the Mist, said the commission was seeking to recover $44,000 from the business on her behalf, although she said that amount “is not anywhere near what they owe me”.

“I am now being instructed that I am to attend a ‘creditor’s meeting’ where I may be informed that I will receive a small percentage of what they owe me but I realise this is highly unlikely,” Malcolm wrote.

The next meeting of the companies’ creditors is scheduled to be held in Melbourne on October 13.

SmartCompany contacted JoJo Publishing director Barry Dorr but did not receive a response prior to publication.

* This story was updated at 2.35pm on Wednesday to clarify that the amount being sought from the publisher for author Linda Maree Malcolm was determined by the Small Business Council and not the author.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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