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Jury Awards $3.5 Million in Largest ‘Vanity Publisher’ Case

April 7, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Even though ″The Sex Life Of A Football Referee″ and ″Dogs I Have Known″ didn’t make Book-of-the-Month Club, they still deserved to be promoted.

That’s the finding of a jury, which on Friday awarded $3.5 million in a 13- year-old lawsuit charging one of the nation’s largest ″vanity″ publishers with fraud and deception.

The $11 million class action suit represents thousands of authors who have paid up to $8,000 to have their book manuscripts published by New York-based Vantage Press since 1971.

″Vantage operates a sham operation rife with fraud and phantom editors,″ said Arthur J. Jacobs, attorney for the authors.

But Laurence Shanahan, a lawyer for the publisher, said, ″Vantage did exactly what it promised these authors,″ by publishing their works and advertising them in mailings and small trade publications.

Vantage publishes about 400 books a year.

The civil suit claimed Vantage Press - which advertises ″A well-known publisher is searching for manuscripts worthy of book publication″ - made no effort to sell or promote its authors.

The plaintiffs note that Vantage has no sales representatives, produces very limited print runs (150 to 3,000 copies), and maintains no listing of old titles kept in print.

Titles published by the company include ″Traffic My Way,″ the reminiscences of a parking meter man; ″A Guide to the Bathrooms of the World: Toilets″; and ″Daddy Was An Undertaker,″ which starts off: ″There’s always someone dead in our house.″

The $3.5 million will be divided among 2,200 authors once the court stipulates how much the plaintiffs’ attorney should receive, The New York Times reported.

The trial was held before state Supreme Court Justice Carmen Ciparick.

In 1958, the Federal Trade Commission issued an order that barred Vantage from claiming, among other things, that it printed only manuscripts of merit and that it aggressively promoted its books.