Pelican Books / Book Rights
WALKER & PELICAN:
For over 23 years I made my living by authoring and distributing books on the War Between the States. For some time and for several reasons, I had been thinking about selling my rights to a publishing company that could market all eight of my books to the entire nation.
In the spring of 2007 I received a catalogue from Pelican Publishing Company. There were a number of Civil War titles in the catalogue. I recalled that I had some dealings with Pelican a number of years back, so I sent them an e-mail. Yes, they were interested. They requested a copy of each of my books. Then the head of Pelican Publishing, Milburn Calhoun, and I began e-mail negotiations.
Calhoun made it clear from the first, that if we reached an agreement, that Pelican would do all the distributing to retail, and wholesale outlets. In order to make the transition go smoothly, I would have to place my inventory in Pelican’s hands. I believe it was June of 2007 when he asked me to send him an inventory count of my books. He said that was so he could approximate how much inventory he would receive. I sent him the numbers.
Two times during negotiations, I thought we had come to an impasse because he didn’t wish to give me what I asked for in the contract. Each time he relented and negotiations continued until we had an agreement on a contract.
I was to ship him my inventory, and Pelican would sell it. I would receive 35% Royalties (commissions) on each sell. I could buy my books from Pelican and pay them 50%. Thus, I could continue selling my books on a personal basis. Pelican was to reprint all of my books and I would receive 15% commissions on all the books that they sold.
Negotiations were completed by November 2007. The contract was sent to and from me via United States Mail. I understood at the time of signing that if I had any dispute with Pelican I would have to fight them in Louisiana court. I didn’t think that they were crooked and if they would have abided by the contract, I wouldn’t be writing this letter. In December, I shipped my inventory worth $35, 184.60 to Pelican. I informed Calhoun that I was keeping a small inventory for me to sell on a personal basis, and I sent him the numbers on that inventory.
I was due my first Royalty check in June. The check didn’t arrive until July and when it did it was for $2, 328.82, far less than half of what I was to receive. I thought an error had been made and I contacted Pelican. I was told that Calhoun was on vacation until August and he would contact me on his return. About the middle of August I did hear from him but his answer was not satisfactory. We exchanged more e-mails. It took me a while to understand that he never intended to honor the contract that he had written.
He then had the audacity to bill me for the inventory that I had sold from the time of the inventory in June until 12/31/07; although there was no such understanding or any phrase in the contract to that effect that I was selling inventory for Pelican. That, of course, would have been unacceptable! In fact, the contract said anything said in negotiations before 1/1/2008 didn’t count; it was only what was in the contract that mattered. Thus, he took my inventory worth $35, 184.60, plus the rights to my books, made money selling my books, and then told me I owed him $13, 287.61! To add insult to injury, I often receive a bill from Pelican stating I am “past due” on paying them for stealing everything from me!
Of course, I told him I wanted out of the unjust contract, but he would not even consider the possibility. I did many things in an attempt to get out of this contract. I contacted the bar association. I contacted Legal Aid but because I made an income that slightly exceeded their guide lines; they couldn’t help. I even wrote to the Attorney(s) General for both Virginia and Louisiana but neither of them would get involved. I went to an attorney who told me, “Because Pelican has violated contract provisions the contract is void. However, to get your rights back you must go to court. It will cost you many thousands of dollars and take you many years.” I have neither.
The United States Post office was the last legal option I saw. I twice contacted the Postal Inspector’s Office trying to get them involved on Postal Fraud charges, because the contract traveled via United States Mail. I waited months to hear from them before I started this letter informing the general public of my experience with Pelican. However, it appears that I am too little of a fish for the Post Office to wish to mess with; “…with liberty and justice for all (some)…”
For 23 years I was the author, publisher, distributor, president, and swept the floor. After less than 1 year dealing with Pelican, I officially closed the books 12/31/08. I had to seek other employment. At age 63; job prospects are highly limited. Although the pay was small, I felt happy to secure any employment. Not only do I have the normal bills to pay, I financed my inventory on my credit card and was paying that bill with the books I sold. I am paying that bill, but I now lack $35, 000 dollars worth of inventory.
Pelican not only devastated me financially, but, in a way, they also stole my life! A man’s name is his greatest possession; I no longer control my own name! They sell books with my name on them against my will. They have first rights on any books I may write so I don’t even own my own name. Most men hold their job as being very important to their self image. When two men meet for the first time as they shake hands, they usually say: “I am Charles Glick; I am the V. P. for XWZ Company.” I no longer introduce myself as the author of many War Between the States books. My books were like my “babies;” I created them. Now, it is like I had nothing to do with the extensive, time consuming research, and writing, because I don’t receive even a penny when one of my books is sold! I signed a contract with Pelican thinking I would be better off. I have lost money, self-image, and many nights sleep because that is not the case!
I really do not know how many people are associated with Pelican Publishing Company, and I do not wish to impugn the reputations of all. During my bad experience with Pelican I communicated with a number of people. I believe, most are nice people and two appear to be fine Christians! However, I don’t think those positive attributes apply to Milburn Calhoun and his inner circle, who know what was done to me. There is a possibility that other authors have been treated the same. Despite what has been done to me, I pray for those who have deceived and stolen from me. I have received a vision of Hell and it is such a harrowing, terrible place that I don’t want anybody to go there, no matter what they may have done to me. Thus, I pray that God will not hold this theft against them on that Judgment Day!
I would like to thank you who care enough to take the time to write me. I am truly blessed in so many ways! Now, that you have read this woe filled account, please help so that I will be the last author that Pelican treats this way! Please, if you know an author, tell them to have nothing to do with Pelican. Please do not buy my books from any website, or commercial establishment. Please take time to drop Milburn Calhoun a note at Sally@pelicanpub.com <mailto:Sally@pelicanpub.com> Post this; pass this; tell all the people you know. Many thanks!
The above is my opinion but it is supported by the facts.
Thanks and may God Bless You,
Gary C. Walker