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We want to release our Official Elite fiction as beautiful audio books and special boxed sets for your pleasure Commanders!
361 backers pledged £35,501 to help bring this project to life.

Update on remaining pledge gifts including Special Edition Boxed Sets.

Posted by Dan Grubb (Creator)
30 likes
Hello Commanders,
Commander Dan here, in fact let's not beat around the bush. This is Dan Grubb from Fantastic Books Publishing and I am now in a position to give you a comprehensive update.

Because of what I have always believed (and still believe) to be an unjustified legal action brought against my company by one of the contract holders for Elite: Dangerous fiction, a number of pledges including the majority of the special edition boxed sets (the most expensive of the pledge gifts) have been delayed an unreasonable length of time.
This court case has now been resolved, but unfortunately not in our favour. As a result, the money the money I had set aside to use to ship the boxed sets will have to be paid to the claimant (as “royalties” for books given as pledge gifts) and the shipping of the remaining boxed sets will be delayed again.

This is unfair to all of you who have supported this project and so I thought the least I could do at this stage was to explain the situation and make clear what I have put in place to resolve the issue.

The situation regarding the special edition boxed sets has not been helped by the following;


1) I hugely underestimated the cost of shipping the boxed sets when calculating the original Kickstarter. They are big, bulky and although robust, will need to be treated carefully in transit. The cheapest option won’t do. And even if it would, I did not anticipate the levels of interest from overseas. Some of the international boxed sets are going to cost me more to get safely to their owners than was originally pledged for them. This is my mistake, I own it completely and I will get the promised boxed sets to you. I remain very grateful for your support.

2) The company whose quotation I had accepted to create the boxes pulled out at the 11th hour. The only alternative has resulted in boxed sets that are far better quality but that have taken far longer to produce and are more expensive.Since the start of this very disruptive legal action almost 18 months ago, I have been concentrating on my core business (that of selling books) while diverting as much resource as possible into getting individual boxed sets to their owners. This will continue as funds come in.

At the court hearing, the judge (who had no knowledge of Kickstarter) decided that I must pay “royalties” on books given away as pledge gifts. My own stance was that I had a clear agreement with all the authors about pledge gifts but there was nothing in writing.

The court decision sets a precedent and allows the other Elite: Dangerous authors to demand “royalties” on books given as pledge gifts.

Nothing will persuade me to act without integrity, even if I have to lose my company. I cannot therefore ignore the precedent that this judge’s decision has set. One of the reasons I work to the original profit sharing model of publishing is to be fair to my authors. Those of them with knowledge of the publishing industry appreciate this partnership working.

Following the judge’s decision, I contacted the four other Elite: Dangerous contract holders who were involved in the Kickstarter and explained the position. Here's the first response I had; and I should note that it had me worried until I spotted the application of 'sarcasm-mode'.

###

'I do have urgings to sue. I can't explain my reasoning, but it has something to do with going against all my principles.'

###

I smiled, thanked the author and waited for the next response to come in. This is what it said;

###

'I was just happy to create something that people would enjoy whilst waiting to finally be able to play a new version of Elite - I was even happier that someone wanted to publish it, so no, I won't be taking any legal action.'

###

Another smile and the warm feeling that you get from working with good people – so much more productive than scouring the ground for grudges to pick up and carry about. Again I thanked the author and the next response came in;

###

'So you’re offering me the opportunity to paint myself as a sanctimonious arse, ruin a lot of hard work, sow discord, trash friendships and break my word as a gentleman… and all for the sake of a month’s salary? I’ll pass thanks.'

###

That one made me laugh. It really is great to work with good supportive people. Teams like these can move mountains. Only one more author to hear from and this was what came back;

###

‘"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass—a idiot." (Charles Dickens 1838).

I, however, am not an ass - and I respect the amazing community who funded this project on Kickstarter far too much to treat them like idiots by putting fulfilment at risk with litigious claims I know full well I am not due.'

###

That completely clarified things for me, and reinforced a realisation I had come to some time ago;

With only the tiniest insignificant specks of exception, the Elite community is the most supportive, forgiving and, frankly, awesome community out there and it is a genuine privilege to consider myself part of it.

I WILL get these boxed sets out to you all.

Gabi and I will be driving the majority of the UK boxes to their respective owners personally (fuel being cheaper than shipping in most cases). Where possible this will allow me to deliver a face to face apology for the delay.

Please consider this update the same heartfelt apology for the huge delays to those of you who live outside the UK or are simply too far away in the UK to come to you personally.

This whole experience has been very damaging to my small publishing house but we are still here, still releasing Fantastic books and the future looks good.

We have lost the use of the sound studio that was built and equipped with the Kickstarter funds.

The sound engineer is a long time friend of the claimant and is currently involved in helping them create their own version of their audio book. I bear no grudge against the sound engineer or his family. When the litigation began and he confided in me how anxious the situation was making him, I promised to keep him insulated from it and I hope he would agree that I have done that to the best of my ability.

During the court hearing, the suggestion was made that I should start my own legal action against the sound studio to recover the recording fee and other expenses of the fifth book, plus a percentage of the cost of building and equipping that studio.

Not knowing what version of events will filter back, I should like publicly to make my position on this clear.

As a man of integrity I will not put a couple with a young family through the stress of litigation on these grounds. Should the sound engineer wish to donate funds to me to cover my losses in this regard, I will accept them gratefully and use them to speed up the shipping of the boxed sets, but I will not chase him for compensation and I stress that I bear him no ill will, this was not a mess of his making.

We have now built our own sound studio, in house here at Lilac Tree Farm, called 'the Re(a)D Room' and will shortly be releasing our first Re(a)d Room audio book, read by Penelope McDonald.

Thanking you for your patience in this matter is a moot point and I completely understand the frustration and anger some of you have shown at the delays. I hope this update goes some way to explain the reasons.

Finally, although the original Kickstarter was for four titles, the boxed sets contained 5 titles. The legal judgement means that the claimant will be paid royalties on the books set aside to go in the boxed sets. However, I have always been concerned that sending the boxed sets would trigger another threat of legal action. This being the case, I made sure that the specific question was asked at the hearing. ‘When we send out the remaining boxed sets, if they contain your book, will you expect further payment?’

The claimant’s immediate reaction was to say yes. The judge’s immediate reaction was to say yes, royalties would be due.

It was then pointed out that the money that would be paid to the claimant for “royalties” for Kickstarter pledge gifts, already included the books that had been set aside for the boxed sets.

After some confused discussion both the judge and the claimant seemed to agree that no further payment could be demanded.

However, the confusion and the difficulties of explaining the workings of Kickstarter to someone who has no knowledge of it mean that I cannot take the risk of sending out the 5th book. Even if any further legal action would almost certainly be struck out, the law is a lottery and even having a claim struck out requires a disproportionate amount of time and effort. I simply can’t take the risk. They’re called Law Courts not Justice Courts for a reason.

The boxed sets will contain 4 official Elite: Dangerous titles (Elite: Mostly Harmless, Elite: Reclamation, Elite: And Here The Wheel and Elite: Tales From The Frontier) and will also be joined by two other recent Fantastic books by way of replacement for the missing 5th.

I also intend to give MP3 download copies of the first Re(a)d Room audio book to pledgers who were due a 5th audio release.

So all that remains is to apologise again for the hassle, delay and frustration that this has caused and to assure you all that I am doing everything in my power to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.

Thank you.

Dan Grubb

Stuart Aken, david minty, and 28 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. John Stabler on

      For backers who would like more information about the court's ruling: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/allenstroud/elite-lave-revolution/posts/1608128

      I'm struggling to understand how it was anything but justified. Authors may be more willing to give away copies of their book if they were actually paid properly for the ones sold.

    2. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      @Spencer - Definitely want you on board for this one please Commander! We've just received the news that the venue has fibre throughout so speed issues should be a thing of the past. I've sent you a FB message with a few more details and I am very grateful that you are offering the use of your arcane powers of wizardry, dynamic interwebs and elastic trickery to help get us connected again this year. How you managed at all with last year's issues was completely beyond us! Right on, Commander o7

    3. Spencer Cook on

      Randomius Factoria protects us!

      I knew something about what had kicked off. But not realised the depth and cost and stress involved.

      I'm glad this is over, and you can look forward. My sympathies to the parties involved.

      I now have very mixed feelings to be the owner of said material which will be missing from the replacement box sets. A mixture of privilege and sadness, that I own something to be rare, but that it's ultimately added to a whole world of misery.

      With that in mind, my offer still stands with F-Con. Anything I can do to help drop me a message. If I can get involved early enough, I'll certainly make sure that the LAN is the best I can possibly make of it.

      And now to start making my cosplay too, for the event that's been brought forward a week?

    4. Darren Grey on

      Right on, Commander :)

    5. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      Thanks for the input Darren, I appreciate it.

      I must make this completely clear. I do NOT endorse people boycotting events.

      All I want to do is exactly what I've been trying to do since the very beginning; continue growing and nurturing this excellent community, support community events, promote the game and meet new friends.

      The last 18 months has prevented me from doing this as much as I would have liked. Now it is over, all I want to do is get back in my ship and keep exploring the galaxy with you all.

      o7

    6. Darren Grey on

      I don't want to tell you how to do your job, Dan, but have you looked at legal insurance? As a publisher with various contracts in place you are unfortunately quite open to legal challenges, and as Fantastic Books grows this sort of situation becomes only more likely.

      And with regards to the judge not understanding Kickstarter, unfortunately the law has been made clear in cases before that Kickstarter rewards are considered transactions, with all the normal legal and financial implications of this. Other crowdfunders have been caught out badly by this before. You should make sure you get the right wording in your contracts so you're not liable to problems with this in future. I know we had a verbal agreement with the Anthology about Kickstarter rewards being outside royalties, and we were all on board with that, but it needs to be black and white if you want to protect yourself.

      I'm very sad to see that there's been such a dispute arise between two very passionate individuals. Perhaps such strong-willed passion makes it the more likely? But the involvement of money and the law only makes things the more bitter. I hope members of the community can understand that this was a contractual issue and shouldn't be the cause for rifts in the Elite community, which is normally so inclusive. There have already been implications that certain events should be boycotted and I find that really sad.

      All the best with getting the special editions sorted - I'm pretty confident people will be fantastically pleased with the results :) The new audio works sound excellent too - lots to be excited about for the rest of the year!

    7. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      My dear Commanders,

      I just want to thank you all again for your messages of support and encouragement over the last 24 hours. It's a real relief to have this chapter closed and be able to move focus to our next big project.

      We are currently making plans to run another Kickstarter to fund our annual convention FantastiCon in Hull on the 19th and 20th November (full weekend event).

      Plans are afoot, quotes are in, budgets are being calculated, guests are being booked and we should be going live at some point this week. I would appreciate your help spreading the word so we can make it the best darn Elite-focused party since the Official Launch Party in Duxford!

      This year we will have live music, retro/modern/VR/Tabletop/RPG/Board gaming, Cosplay, Readings, Raffles, Competitions, Award Ceremony, NERF wars, Panels and more Elite: Dangerous content than you can shake a pimped up Sidewinder at.

      And for those of you who think I must be mad considering running another Kickstarter I say this...

      Given the amazing flood of positive energy from you all following my latest update, I need to focus on doing what I do best.

      Kicking ass and eating sausages... and I'm all out of sausages.

      Onwards Commanders!

      Commander Dan

    8. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      @mB - Thanks for the message Commander. This whole awful chapter is now closed. Let us move forward with gusto and positivity! (It is a very funny nickname though).

    9. Missing avatar

      mB on

      I am flabbergasted, bamboozled, and genuinely at a loss for words. The fact that someone would be so petty, small minded, snide, selfish, and .. well you get the idea. Since this is a public forum(?) I'll not say my true feelings on the subject.

      Allow me, however to point you in the direction of an actor from the TV series "Preacher" : Ian Colletti - have a look at his characters nickname. I believe that is a nice description of the person in question.

      :D

    10. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      @Shaun - o7 Commander. Onwards!

    11. Shaun Gibson on

      I think everyone who has got to know Dan and his team wish FBP the very very best despite the technical loss, the support and good will he's garnered over the years show he's come through this a true champion. Good man our Dan.

    12. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      @Drew - A genuine privilege to be your writing's conduit to the world dear Drew. Thanks for your support, encouragement and patience during all this. Now it's over I am looking forward to focusing 100% on what matters, getting our Fantastic books (in all their formats) out to the world.
      @Styggron - I was heartened to see Chris' comment. It's good to know this whole experience hasn't soured an otherwise healthy working relationship and am sure we will collaborate on a project in the future. Thanks for your kind words Commander.
      @Bifford - You are very welcome Commander. Having a second studio in Hinckley to use is definitely a bonus going forward. I'm sure we will collaborate in the future when we next consider creating full-cast audio drama. For the time being, given how busy Chris is with Escape Velocity, I will be concentrating all my audio efforts on the Re(a)D Room.
      @Richard - Thanks for your kind words Commander. The brand names 'Fantastic Books Audio' and 'Fantastic Books Publishing' remain ours. The studio in Hinckley is the main studio for the Radio Theatre Workshop, that brand name was and remains that of Chris Jarvis. As part of the agreement to create the Elite audio books, we agreed to build the studio in Chris' house. I do not regret that decision and look forward to hearing more audio from the RTW in the future. If you want to hear something non-Elite from them, I'd suggest Michael Brooke's 'Forced Entry'.
      @Victor - Thank you very much Victor, your continuing support and encouragement means a lot Commander.
      @Steve - £120k? Blimey! That's a much bigger hit than we have suffered Commander. Thanks for your offer to help with the UK distribution. Various options have opened up to me since posting the update from similarly helpful and supportive friends and it's really very humbling to see so many people rallying around us. I will contact you later today.

    13. Steve Trumm on

      Litigation......I had four years of it in the mid 2000's at a legal bill cost of over £120k and fully understand how it feels and what its effects are. A shocking waste of money, time, energy and most importantly life!
      At the end it was a battle won against people with more money than principles and the win helped a little.
      Money indeed appears to take people's eye off the ball on what in life is actually important and that is very sad.
      Well done for coming through it, if you want to get a list together of deliveries in east Anglia get in touch and I can get to Northampton when you are down and take them from you at my responsibility

      I've supported the cause this far, it's little enough to thank you for the joy of Elite fiction you have already given

      At your command Commander!

    14. Missing avatar

      Victor Tombs on

      Like others commenting here I was unaware of any of these battles you have faced in the past months. I read your update feeling nothing but sympathy for you and your business Dan. Thank you for informing us of what has taken place and where the project stands currently.

      I have nothing but kind words for the way you have dealt with me in the past and I hope that FBP continues to grow and prosper under your guidance. :D

    15. Missing avatar

      Richard Wojtaszak on

      Like many others, This is the first time i have heard of a court order ageist you and the books that where going to be put together.

      In the post it reads like your unable to work in the studio built by both Dan and Chris, if thats my as of now understanding of it.

      Regardless, The offer is still on the table that the studio could be worked in again. Making a workshop in one's home can always bring disaster to someone else on the outside. Not living with family that wants to use that very thing.

      I am very happy with what i have received from this Kick starter as a low level supporter, I am saddens me to hear about this whole thing.

      I hope all KS backers will get notices of future books so we can go and get to read what we might wan to help buy and support those audio books that we wish to listen to in the future.

      Thank you very Much Dan for posting this post. It must have been very time consuming and your thoughts must have really gone though a lot to get this into one whole thing.

      Please let anyone know about updates going forth.

      Have you kept the brand name ?

      Thank you. Peace.

    16. Bifford the Youngest on

      Greetings Commander Dan. o7

      This post was the first I had heard about any of this, and it is a sad thing that it ever happened. Shame on the author in question (I can guess who it is based on the eBooks I hold in my possession and the one missing from the list above, but won't name them as neither did you).

      I am very glad you are still able to keep Fantastic Books Publishing going and now have two avenues open to you for audio books - maybe a collaboration is in order in the near future!?

      Thank you for the delivery of the car stickers (albeit somewhat late!) and extra postcard gifts - much appreciated!

      Fly safe Commander. o7

    17. Styggron on

      Thank you for the update Dan. Also glad to read what Chris wrote. You can still use the studio Dan, this is great news. Being an outsider and not involved internally, I don't really want to partake in "armchair opinions". All I can say is directly what I have experienced. *Every* communication with Dan has been answered with enthusiasm. I have a wonderful picture painted of Fantastic Books. Every tiniest problem or request I had Dan jumped in with what was fair, actually not just what was fair but what he felt "should" have been which was always *more* than what I would have expected. All my experiences were positive.
      It was indeed sad to hear about what happened. Dan I know your work will continue and with your studio and hopefully with Chris' both of you will continue to create fantastic audios.
      I look forward to receiving the physical audio version of the books. Thank you for the updates Dan. Thank you for your update too Chris. Best wishes to you both.

    18. Drew Wagar on

      Thoroughly unpleasant,costly and ridiculous waste of time for all at FBP towers. Still, the enthusiastic support of well wishers and those who understand that doing the right thing isn't the same as the "technically correct" - atleast, if you want your honour to remain intact. All power to you Dan. We have many more stories to tell and I'll be telling mine though Fantastic Books Publishing! Onwards!

    19. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      Thanks Marcel. It's all over now. Life's too short for bitterness and resentment, let's just concentrate on moving forwards and making things as Fantastic as they can be :)

      (A project is on the near horizon too... a Kickstarter project... I know, I know, I must be mad...)

      Watch this space!

    20. Marcel Schoen on

      Holy cow - I was oblivious to this hole lawsuit business. This is horrible! Right now I have no nice things to say about whoever is behind this ridiculous lawsuit bullcrap. I just hope it will still go well for you and your publishing house, Dan!

    21. Dan Grubb 4-time creator on

      Thanks for weighing in, Chris. I’m glad to know that you feel we could work together again (though perhaps not the hand-mixing of mortar, huh?). You know that I hold your work in very high regard. I was careful in my post to be clear that I did not hold you responsible for any of this. I was heartened by your post. Perhaps one day you and the family will be able to visit the Re(a)D Room?

    22. John Hoggard on

      Fantastic Books and the team behind it are Fantastic.

      Onwards and upwards.

      I loved the audiobooks they were stunning so I hope there are more collaboration with Chris Javis now that this is over.

      Big rocks thrown into a pond make big ripples but then they die away and serenity and peace reclaims the once disturbed surface.

    23. deusx_ophc on

      dan & team and almost all of the authors - you are stars!

      onwards and forever upwards

    24. Christopher Jarvis on

      Dear Dan and all,

      I'd like to take the opportunity to comment here, since this is the first time I've seen any of these discussion or arguments out in the open, in a written format. I wouldn't normally weigh in so publically or quickly, but a part of this is about me and I'd really like to be able to clear the air with Dan and the whole community behind this Kickstarter. It seems to me that a certain amount of misunderstanding has crept into this whole process - which I must say is completely understandable in a complex and personal legal battle. I've also received (so far) one angry email about this, so it's important to me to clear up the misunderstanding before anything else gets out of hand.

      And I'd particularly like to thank Dan too for keeping me as insulated as possible from the whole thing. During the time I was working on the audiobooks I'm not ashamed to admit that it was a difficult time for me. I appreciated being afforded the motivation and lack of stress that being kept out of the court proceedings allowed, which enabled me to finish the work and deliver audio books to a high quality.

      But I'd just like to clarify the status of the sound studio. As far as I am concerned, Dan has not lost the use of it. I do not say - and I have never said - that Dan cannot use me and my studio for future projects. To be clear, what I have said is the following:

      * My working time is very limited (part time), so I have to pick and choose which projects I work on very carefully. I told Dan I didn't want to take on any more books over 8 hours in duration. I'm also not keen to take on "plain reading" audiobooks which would be projects of shorter duration, but are of less interest to me although I understand that from a commercial point of view they are cheaper to produce and therefore more profitable. My focus is - and needs to be - full cast audio and/or dramatic readings.

      * I can't hire my studio out. Dan did ask if he could use the studio without me, but it's not really possible. It's a private space in my home. For me to be able to rent it out requires a very different kind of insurance etc and this is not possible. The kickstarter budget to build the studio was part of my pay deal for doing the work. I agreed to take less, on the basis I was getting the studio. This was why I agreed to take £5000 (plus royalties) to work on a project which took me 18 months of my entire working capacity to create, driven by passion to be involved in the official Elite audio fiction.

      The last time I spoke to Dan I made it clear that I was more than happy to discuss future projects, as long as both of our interests aligned. That was why when Dan built his own studio last summer I didn't express or feel any surprise. I assumed that this was to cover the kinds of project Dan knew I wouldn't take on. I'm genuinely sorry, Dan, if you felt that in the meantime you had become unwelcome here. You are welcome, even if it wasn't practical or sensible to start any projects together while the court case was unresolved.

      I really hope that clears the air. As Dan says this is a fantastic community and anything that taints it is a pity. Onward.

      Christopher Jarvis, Radio Theatre Workshop

    25. Missing avatar

      Calle de Blok on

      Supporting Kickstarters on both sides of this conflict I feel sorry it had to go down this path. I think none really have won anything, only some have come out worse than others.

      I just do hope fantastic publishing keeps on publishing fantastically as before.