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If someone has a book published with a certain publisher and there is a contract signed. Then publisher goes belly up and is now nonexistent. What becomes of the contract between the author and publisher? They just went under with no contact or anything to let their authors know.

ETA: this is in the united states. the company is no more, total going. no one bought them or took their assists. I tried to buy copies of the book for myself, and can no longer buy them. The only place that sells or carries them are ebay and amazon, for like 900 US dollars.

  • In what country? AFAIK, a company can't simply become "nonexistent". It can cease operating, but it still exists as a legal entity. The author can sue that entity if it breaches its contract, and if awarded damages, can go after the company's assets, if any. – Nate Eldredge Sep 2 at 1:10
  • Sometimes, if a publisher goes belly up, their books end up getting sold off for cost to antique books dealers, who then end up selling the books as a tiny trickle for ludicious markups as the supply chain is dead. But by first sales doctrine nobody can sue them. – Trish Sep 8 at 13:48
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It depends on whether there is a successor in interest. Smith Publishers may have disappeared by merging with Jones Amalgamated, which acquired their assets and liabilities, so Jones may have replaced Smith in the contract. By the terms of your publishing contract, Smith may be obligated to require a successor to assume your contract. If not, you would have to sue Smith for breach of contract, good luck with that. Or, Smith may have run the business out of his basement and decided to just give up, maybe he is in hiding, or maybe he is dead. Smith is still personally responsible, and if you can find him or his estate, you can sue him for breach of contract.

It is not clear, though, what more you expect from the publisher. If the book is actually published, then that is a large chunk of what a publishing contract does. Distribution is also within the scope of such a contract: did they just vanish with all of the printed copies? A few details are missing from the question.

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