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As The Clive Cussler Lawsuit Turns

Way back in December the LA Times reported on the impending lawsuits between author Clive Cussler and film producer Philip Anschutz stemming from a $10 million dollar deal to adapt SAHARA. Cussler hated the movie and sued on the grounds that it violated terms set forth in the contract; Anschutz countersued, and things appeared to get nasty.

Now they have. Today’s report from Glenn Bunting and Josh Getlin says that attorneys for Anschutz allege that author Cussler duped the Denver industrialist into paying $10 million for film rights to the adventure novel SAHARA by flagrantly inflating his book sales to more than 100 million copies. (A review of more than 14,000 pages of royalty reports and accounting records found, according to the lawyers, that the number of Cussler novels sold was closer to 35 million.) “Cussler and his agent had gotten away with these numbers for years,” said Alan Rader, Anschutz’s lawyer. “It was a lie and it doomed the movie.” The claim is “ridiculous,” Cussler said Thursday outside a courtroom at Los Angeles County Superior Court. “They wanted the book. They solicited us.”

The lawsuit brings out one of publishing’s little secrets, that book sales can be inflated and often are. “Hyping sales figures is not productive for the book industry and in the end it hurts everyone,” said James Atlas, a writer and founder of Atlas Books. “It’s harder to get away with this kind of thing now. The information Nielsen BookScan provides may be unwelcome to some, but it’s necessary.” Which is where the disclaimer that Bookscan only tracks between 50-70% of sales comes in, of course. As for the Cussler/Anschutz lawsuit, it’s ongoing.

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