Update: December 27, 2021
Jake Mayer checks in:
I’ve been following Kessinger/Literary Licensing since I’ve been involved in reprint publishing for the past 12 years. I have no idea about the employment scams, etc, listed above.
What I do know is that Kessinger/Literary Licensing has managed to have the first re-printing of public domain (and not-so-public domain) works to market, often with shoddy interiors and no cover design. Amazon is a wild west of book arbitraging and publishing, so this is in itself not shocking.
What is shocking is that Amazon has been increasingly prohibiting all but the first re-republisher of public domain works from the marketplace, and even banning other publishers who attempt to list the same title. This means that Kessinger/Literary Licensing has been given a monopoly on hundreds of thousands (millions?) of book titles on Amazon, as other publishers will be denied a level playing field to produce better quality lower cost editions, despite the fact that books in the public domain are IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN(!)
It is infuriating, unfair, and likely illegal, but as noted- who is going to do anything.
What keeps this story on my radar is Whitefish, MT. With a population of fewer than 8,000 residents, not only to these resident include Roger Kessinger and his book empire, but also famed neo-Nazi Richard Spencer (external link), and billionaire Michael Goguen—another fun guy (external link)
WTF is going on in Whitefish, and how are Kessinger and Bezos involved?
Sorry for the delay in responding. Hope your holidays are going well. Thanks for the fascinating report. Why Whitefish? More probably, Montana, with Whitefish as its center.
I suspect Montana’s thin population allows well financed lobbyists to more easily influence bill writing. Not so much scrutiny. Got to be tax law or some such. Look at New Mexico, with more foreign insurance companies incorporated there than any other state in America. Does that make sense? Of course not.
Unless you look at what NM charges for incorporating compared to other states, could be significant, and whatever other favorable conditions are granted. Someone has probably been walking around Whitefish with bags of money, Whitefish itself possibly the power center of Montana. Without looking it up, Whitefish may be a really nice place to live in Montana.
Thanks again.Update: October 6, 2021
Hi there. I found your blog on this company. For background: I have seen an out-of-print 1951 book on our family history recently reprinted and sold on Amazon. We bought one to add to our collection for our kids. After digging into why the book is back in print, I have determined that it is one of those Kessinger specials. It appears many of their books are sold on Amazon by Amazon. You’d think Amazon wouldn’t want to deal in possible copyright infringements, but then again, they are so big, they would kill anyone with the legal fees in fighting it.
The only real info I have to add to what you posted is that the book we bought is published not by Kessinger Publishing themselves, but through Literary Licensing LLC. They have a website which shows the address is the same as Kessinger’s, and the book I find through their site immediately takes me to an Amazon listing for the book. However, when I look up Literary Licensing LLC on Google, the business is listed as closed. Not sure what that’s about, but they are definitely owned by the same people. I thought you may want to include this info on your blog.
Also, I found this 2016 article online about Roger Kessinger giving a talk at an Indian school of MBA students about salesmanship and entrepreneurship.
I find it an odd coincidence that he’s in the country that you referenced as being the other largest infringer of copyright publishing of American books. Wonder if his topic was instruction on his industry? And if he has this (debatably) legitimate business going on, why do they need to do the employment scams and how do Nigerians fit in?? It’s all so weird and shady.
I know that they have switched to a PO Box for mail, but it appears the Wisconsin Avenue address is no longer valid as a search of the address on Google pulls up a massage therapist. I found their original address of suite 103 on dandb.com.
Anyway, went down the rabbit hole today and thought I’d share to the only other one I know who would find it if interest 😄.
Update May 3, 2021
Jennifer checks in:
I went through this today. Applied for a job on FB marketplace. Ended up in an interview on Whats App. While I was interviewing I screenshot the comment above about how they sent her a check, she sent to the vendor to purchase a computer and ended up getting screwed. The person told me they were working with the FBI to get these false accusations dealt with. I asked which field office because both of my parents are former federal investigators. I also contacted Amazon while I was interviewing because their site states they are paid commissions by Amazon. While interviewing I spoke with Amazon customer service via chat and they have no such relationship.
The person stopped responding when I started asking what FBI office, etc. They disappeared off Whats app. I went back to FB immediately and went to the profile of the person who posted the job. She didn’t have much on her profile but what she did post was all commented on by pretty much the same people. I went to each of their profiles and yes, same group of people commenting. All Nigerian. All connected by religious posts. I shared all of their profile information to my page immediately (all ten or so of them).
I filed a tip with IC3, notified Amazon as well as FB and the BBB. This is more than just a scam to steal your money. They are, in fact, laundering their own funds in the process. It appears a small group of foriegn nationals are laundering their money through FB.
Update: April 13, 2021
Dave Lynn checked in:
My sister received an employment email reply from Kessinger Publishing and I was alerted to their scam via some Internet searches, including your blog, which I appreciated. I’ve attached a couple of PDFs that KP sent to her for your review, if interested. They appear to be secure and did not set off any virus warnings on my PC. Aside from the email text that requested a “COPY OF YOUR DRIVING LICENCE FRONT AND BACK, SSN,” the clear red flags involve the suspiciously high pay rate of $30/hour and an employment “contract” with no description of job duties. Incredible! Thanks again for posting, your info was helpful today.
I’d add that there is language describing ten days of vacation for every three months worked. And $30 or some such for each day of that vacation. It’s all too good to be true. And none of it is true.
Despite what Dave Lynn experienced, uploading those two files to WP resulted in Russian text being displayed when I tried to post them here. They read like normal files in English when I read them offline, they turned to Cyrillic when I reposted. I am now even more suspicious of Kessinger.
Update: March 31, 2021
Sade checked in:
“You guys just saved me from posting a check to my account for $1,950 for equipment. i eas really excited about $30 a hour.”
Update: March 29, 2021
Ashley checked in:
“WOW this company started off with a FACEBOOK JOB LISTING to work from home remote COVID-19!! So of course, I applied through Facebook. To have them message me with a phone number for another person in Whats App. After an hour long process, they ask me if they can send me a check for an Apple Book Pro 2, and software. *RED FLAG* WHAAT?! why on earth would someone send me money to purchase that? they said no! this is a start up fee in which you will have to pay us back for. *HUGE RED FLAG* i said nope ! nevermind! and didn’t go any further from there. Thank God I found this website, to know that I was not the only one that they attempted to mastermind and steal from. I am so sorry that happened to that one girl, thank you SO SO much for sharing.”
Update: March 26, 2021
Angela checked in:
“I’m literally in an interview as we speak with someone named Anastacia Royce saying she is one of the HR officers at Kessinger. Her English is a little off but may not be her first language, but it still makes me skeptical. I went through the entire interview and she’s not answering a particular question of mine. She didn’t even ask if I had questions, I had to make it known.
At first I was wondering if I was talking with a real person cause it seemed like the questions were copy and paste. My mom sent me the link through FB. Someone posted the job and their profile has nothing on it except residency and a picture of them. I’m thinking of messaging them if they work here remotely or even has anything to do with this company. This is weird! I just read your other blog of other people’s experiences and it almost lines up with what I just went through.”
Update: February 22, 2020
This is from the official United Government Federal Trade Commission:
“Report Job Scams to the FTC
Find out more about how to avoid scams at ftc.gov/scams.”
Update: February 20, 2021
Yikes! This just came in from Sofia. Full comment at the bottom of this page.
“I have been robbed by this people!!! This is unbelievable I’m so mad I didn’t saw this page after sending them money! It was the same history, a “work from home” job offer, $30 per hour, they did an “interview” with “Tom Roger” with me on the WhatsApp they gave me, this is the phone number (205) 605 9408, they sent me a check for $1.350 then asked me to transfer it via ZELLE to firstname.lastname@example.org ($750) and email@example.com($600) then they blocked me and the check was returned, I got my bank account on negative and almost closed, I’m going to the police right now to report it. This is crazy, this people is taking money from innocent people I can’t believe it we have stop them NOW!”
Update: February 17, 2021
New Comment at the bottom of the page. Looks like Kessinger is dangling $30 an hour in front of people. That’s nonsense.
Update: February 14, 2021
Another person has come forward regarding the work at home scheme offered by Kessinger. Some sort of dodge to get people to buy software. Jason’s story fits in what another person experienced last month, a plan to get money out of the applicant instead of getting them work.
Whatever Kessinger is doing, it is making people miserable. Not only their republishing business but this work at home offer.
Update: January 29, 2021
I’ve just been contacted by a person who applied for work at Kessinger and says that they now deeply regret giving Kessinger their home address. Until I read through all of this aplplicant’s correspondence, I would say to withold your address if you are applying to Kessinger. At least until you find out more about them or if you are willing to take a risk.
— A little further. Kessinger is asking applicants for their banking information before they get hired. And they are stating that employees can’t use their own equipment, rather, they want to send a check for the applicant to buy a new computer and a huge amount of software. I have never heard about this approach before.
For the last five years I have worked under contract for a company that did work for law firms across the United States and Canada. All of us team members, those in the States and abroad, used our own equipment. There was never a question about ethics in doing so, indeed, for most online work, you have to have to have your own computer before you are hired. What gives here?
Kessinger wants to send a hardcopy check to the applicant and not an online deposit. Even stranger. The applicant would then have a check pending for thousands of dollars in their account, money that could vaporize at any time. They are luring people on with a promise of $25 an hour but then they say $10 an hour for their online training period. I am not accusing anyone of anything, I just find this strange. Really strange.
I’d stick with PayPal if anyone sends me money that could disappear. A check isn’t real money until it moves from Pending to Posted. You have some protection through PayPal. But asking people to buy equipment just for their employ is really odd. For their ethics? What ethics? I have great problems with them publishing the works of authors without their permission or the permission of that writer’s estate. They seem very shady.
I’ll read more from this applicant but here’s just one screen shot of a text message interview:
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.
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
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
Mr. Roger Kessinger, Owner
Mr. Roger Kessinger, Owner
Mr. Roger Kessinger, Owner
424 Baker Ave Unit 1404
Whitefish, MT 59937-7059
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)
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 https://fairuse.stanford.edu (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.