The Odd World of Kessinger Publishing

Update: September 6, 2020

I hadn’t noticed Kessinger’s Wikipedia entry before. It seems to have been generated by and maintained by bots, a common happening. Check the page’s edit history. All of the references at the bottom of its page are very old and unhelpful.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessinger_Publishing (external link)

Also, Kessinger has updated their home page, now removing any information about themselves or providing a telephone number.

I see that still no one has yet filed a single complaint about the company with the BBB. If you are really mad about them poaching your copyrighted work, then file a complaint. Otherwise, you are all talk.

https://www.bbb.org/us/mt/whitefish/profile/publishers-book/kessinger-publishing-llc-1296-64052275 (external link)

Update – April 28, 2020

New information from the Better Business Bureau’s website. An actual phone number for Kessinger. And a street address which is just a United States Post Office. And, unfortunately, despite the outrage some feel against this company, not a single person has  has filed a complaint with the BBB. What are you waiting for?

Location of This Business
424 Baker Ave Unit 1404, Whitefish, MT 59937-7059

BBB File Opened: 9/19/2006
Years in Business: 16
Business Started: 8/15/2003
Business Started Locally: 8/15/2003

Licensing Information:
This business is in an industry that may require professional licensing, bonding or registration. BBB encourages you to check with the appropriate agency to be certain any requirements are currently being met.

Type of Entity: Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Alternate Business Name
Kessinger Publisher
Business Management
Mr. Roger Kessinger, Owner
Contact Information
Principal

Mr. Roger Kessinger, Owner
Customer Contact

Mr. Roger Kessinger, Owner
Business Categories
Publishers Book
424 Baker Ave Unit 1404

Whitefish, MT 59937-7059

http://www.kessinger.net

(406) 862-7674

NB: Update – December, 2, 2019

In putting together a book proposal I’ve come across some strange offerings from Kessinger Publishing. They’re a reprint service that charges fantastic prices compared to ordinary used books.

A used copy of the 1953 Postcards from Delaplane, for example, will run you five to six dollars at Abe.com (external link). If you mistakenly search Amazon, which does sell used books, you’ll come across this pricing structure:

Postcards From Delaplane (Kessinger Legacy Reprints)

Paperback
$21.56 Prime

Hardcover
$33.56Prime

Talk on the net is that the reprints are shoddy and full of errors. I can’t confirm that but the best advice is to always make sure you are buying a real used book and not a reprint, unless no other choice is available.

I also thought they might be in copyright violation with Delaplane’s work, however, there is a gray area with books published between 1923 and 1963. Those works may be in the public domain unless their copyright has been renewed. See the Copyright Renewal Database at Stanford (external link).

Apparently, Kessinger Publishing has taken it upon themselves to reprint tens of thousands of titles they consider in the public domain. Or, that they are just going to reprint anyway, regardless. Here’s how they describe a reprint:

“This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world’s literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.”

No e-mail or contact information is at their site. They merely list a P.O. Box number in Whitefish, Montana, although there is now a telephone number unlike years past.  Hmm.

Many questions come to mind. For one, is a book truly in the public domain if its content belongs to another copyright holder? For example, if a book is a collection of newspaper columns from The New York Times, does that book going into the public domain release all of those columns from the Times’ control? I don’t know. But I wouldn’t assume that. Best advice is to be cautious.

Update – August 25, 2019.

There appears to be a welter of publishers, many in India, that are printing out-of-print books. They in general have no right to do so, however, it is my understanding that India’s legal system does not respect American copyright law. They do what they want.

Most reprinted titles at Abe.com seem to be from print-on-demand firms. Reprinting old government papers and books, most never under copyright, is a legitimate business. But with few exceptions, in America you can’t reprint without permission.

This print-on-demand industry is so widespread that Abe.com allows you to omit these publishers when you search for a book. That is, there are so many reprints that they overwhelm Abe’s search engine with returns for these bogus books.

My guess is there is no enforcement against these people, especially when they reside in another country. Beyond the law, there are other ways to protest bad business practices. Such as filing a complaint against them at the BBB.

With Kessinger,  I see that they are not a BBB accredited business. (external link)  And, unfortunately, there are no complaints against them at the BBB. One last thing, with these reprints you never get any maps or accessory materials.

DelBook

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
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6 Responses to The Odd World of Kessinger Publishing

  1. Michael says:

    How are these reprint companies not sued for violating copyright?

    • It’s too expensive to sue given the small royalties authors collect. A lawyer would charge upfront and few writers can afford three hundred to five hundred an hour. A class action suit might work but these are extremely costly for a law firm to mount. And, in the end, a judgment might return only a few dollars to each individual, tens or hundreds of thousands to the law firm. An interesting possibility is small claims court where a judgment might return five to ten thousand dollars. These would be brought by an individual with no lawyer need. The difficult part then is collecting a judgement, truly a nightmare by itself.

  2. Robert S. Mandell says:

    “judgment” is without an “e”–unless you’re a barrister writing briefs at the Inns of Court in Great Britain. Just FYI, since the additional information came to me from a Cambridge Professor friend of mine when I found the alternate “e” spelling in one of his books. It should have had the ‘sans e’ spelling, but he cordially provided the additional background.

    • Thanks, that was just a typo. I spelled judgment the way I wanted in the sentence before. I’ve written for a long time in the law. Sometimes, if I am writing for lay people, I will use judgement with an e to keep non-legal spelling Nazis from correcting me. But then the legal types come after me.

  3. Roman says:

    I found your page through trying to research Kessinger. They’re selling my great, great grandfathers (incomplete) works for obscene prices. I can’t find information to get in touch with anyone.. yet they claim to be “digitally persevering literature for future generations.” Well, here I am. Unable to access the writings of a loved family member because of their markup. Yay….

    • They should provide a copyright release for every title they sell or prove that a work is in the public domain. They do neither and I an judging them pirates until they prove otherwise.

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