The stories about Chuck Jones keep getting more bizarre, not to mention frightening and downright sad. In case, you’re not up to speed on this strange saga, let me fill you in. Chuck Jones is the former CEO of South Eastern Book Company (SE Books) and CollegeBookRenter.com. Since roughly the beginning of the year, Jones has been plagued by allegations of deceit and misdirection. About two weeks ago, he stepped down as CEO and the wholesale company South Eastern Book closed its doors. Late last week, the story got more interesting and more complicated. It seems that Mr Jones, in addition to his mishandling the book-company money, had also purchased a printing company and was making illegal copies of top textbooks, swapping them out and renting them under the original ISBNs. What?!?!
I first learned of this story about a month ago from others in the industry. It seems that the rumors of such activity had been circulating and some insiders bought a few titles that proved that the books were counterfeit. While I considered breaking the story here at TheTextbookGuru, I am not an investigative journalist and wasn’t sure how to handle such news or the implications and ramifications. It seems that the insiders who purchased Jones’s pirated books aren’t the only ones who knew what was going on as McGraw-Hill and Pearson have both filed suit.
Over the weekend I spoke with two former SE Book Company employees. One who was at a high level within the organization said that he’d had no knowledge of this and that he didn’t even know Jones owned a printing company until the story broke. My source went on to explain that CollegeBookRenter.com leaders, upon hearing the news, went through the whole warehouse removing any illegal copies. The second contact told me that he was asked to participate early on with the program but declined. He said that those in the loop of Jones’s scheme joked that nobody at either company had any clue that the printing company was right in the company’s backyard. This source said that he felt from the start it was only a matter of a very short amount of time before the jig was up and the scam exposed and that the damage would be heavy.
What an ugly year for a growing company. I guess it goes to show that if you try to screw the industry for a few quick bucks, you’re really screwing yourself. I guess not a lot of people will be interested in any of SE Book Company’s inventory now that it’s tainted with counterfeit textbooks, and who knows how many of the CollegeBookRenter rentals from August were fake books? It’s a scary thing, especially when the pirates are on the company ship.