(image courtesy of iacmusic.com)
In the process of unpacking in the new house, I came across this letter from the Office of The Attorney General, State of Connecticut, written in response to the ongoing, unresolved issue author MJ Allaire and I have with Burgundy Books (formerly of East Haddam, CT) – namely, that they have not paid us for books they sold:
“Dear Ms. Crandall:
“I am writing to tell you that I have received the letter you recently sent to my office. My staff will review it, and will contact you if they need additional information.
“Your letter has been recorded as Public Inquiry #372137, has been assigned to the Consumer Protection Department within the Attorney General’s Office.
“I assure you that we will do everything possible within our legal authority to assist you.
“Thank you very much for contacting my office.
(signed) Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General”
The letter is dated December 2, 2010. Mr. Blumenthal left office not long after. Concerned that this issue might fall between the cracks, I wrote a follow-up letter on March 17, 2011 to the new Attorney General, Mr. George Jepson. I’ve yet to receive a response.
I’m beyond feeling rage at this point. It’s clear that no one except me and Ms. Allaire cares that we have been robbed. But what a disappointment to discover that our own State government, a government that repeatedly talks about the importance of entrepreneurship and small business, has turned a blind eye to this issue and, in so doing, supported the thief.
I drove past Burgundy Books recently. The store is gone. Oh, the building is there, but it’s been taken over. As an entity, the bookstore does business (so it seems) only on-line and now out of Westbrook, CT. I get no satisfaction over the fact that the store itself is gone. All it means is that the business has gone “under ground,” so to speak. These people are good at hiding their trail, hiding their money, and no one cares that they have stolen not only from us, but from other writers as well as other businesses. (It’s amazing what a little research can turn up; my-oh-my, look at all those Small Claims filed against them.)
I admire writer Harlan Ellison on a lot of points, not least being his willingness to fight for his work. If something as simple as mailing a dead gopher would work here (and if you don’t know that story, you should), I’d be the first to hunt up some road-kill. Small claims and hiring a Marshall to try to ferret out the information we needed were about as far as MJ and I could go. Unlike Mr. Ellison, neither of us has the money for a long, drawn-out battle and I’m sure that’s what the folks at BB were counting on. They’ve obviously done this before and gotten away with it. They’re pros. And they don’t care who they screw over in the process.
So…as I said once before, buyer beware. Support your independent bookstores, but make sure they operate in an ethical manner. Otherwise, you might be the next one to get shafted.
PS — If you want to support a truly wonderful independent bookstore, I recommend the Written Words Bookstore, 194 Leavenworth Rd., Shelton, CT. The store is clean, well-lit, and stocked with not only the “usual” books you might find, but some pretty unusual ones as well, books that are total gems. Owner Dorothy Sim-Broder is knowledgable of her field, helpful, and engaging. She supports local authors (including independents) and works hard to bring her readers the best that’s out there. If you’re not local, check out their website (www.writtenwordsbookstore.com) and order something! Help Dorothy keep a truly great bookstore afloat!