Proini - April 16, 2001
Pirated Copies of Spyridon's Biography in the US
Exandas Publishers denounce their distributor in America for marketing pirated books
Sam Chekwas denies the charges, but does not name his supplier
By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Exandas Publishers, some ten days ago, brought grave
charges against Sam Chekwas, a New York bookseller and publisher, for illegally
printing and marketing the authorized biography of Spyridon, former Archbishop
of America. The biography is entitled The Lonely Path of Integrity and has
been written by journalist Justine Frangouli-Argyris.
The charge was first made public by the Athens News Agency in a press report
by the Agency's correspondent in Canada who also happens to be the author
of the biography. The charge gives as sole evidence the denunciation made
by Stephany and Harry Nicolaou, a couple who had bought 100 copies from Mr
Chekwas and who upon opening the boxes "were shocked to find that they
had purchased pirated copies, a fact, according to the press report, they
reported to the Greek publisher and to the New York district attorney."
The announcement states that "Exandas Publishers denounces the vast fraud,
and the theft of intellectual ownership protected by international laws. However,
it refrains at present from taking any legal measures in its effort not to
compromise in any manner the prestige of the former Archbishop of America,
given that the matter pertains to his authorized biography."
As soon as Proini became aware of the charge, it repeatedly asked Exandas
Publishers and the author who meanwhile got in touch with us to provide more
facts, including putting us in touch with the Nicolaous and informing us in
detail about the charge made before the district attorney. The publishers
refused to do so on the grounds that the district attorney had already taken
up the matter. According to Proini's information, Ms Nikolaou is a former
employee of the Archdiocese who was dismissed a year after Archbishop Spyridon's
At the same time, since the Exandas announcement spoke of "thousands
of pirated copies sold accross the US, mainly by bookseller and publisher
Sam Chekwas," our newspaper put these charges to Mr Chekwas himself.
At first, Mr Chekwas told us that he did not remember the Nicolaous and that
he had never sold anyone 100 books. The next day he confirmed that he had
in fact sold such a quantity of books to some couple. He also stated that
apart from the 300 copies received from Exandas Publishers, he had been supplied
with only 150 other copies by a book wholesaler in Athens. As his wife was
at that time having a baby, our contact with him was broken off for a few
In the middle of last week, we were able to locate two alleged pirated copies.
The first came from the batch of 100 bought by the Nicolaous and the second
from a package of ten copies purchased by another individual. The difference
in books sold by Exandas Publishers is obvious, particularly as regards the
cover and the photographs.
Concurrently, as a result of contacts with various stores that market the
biography and with individuals who have bought it in bulk from Mr Chekwas,
our newspaper was able to find that they had taken delivery of more than 550
copies in total.
When our charges were brought to Mr Chekwas's attention, we received the explanation
that he too had seen some copy which had not seemed to him to be authentic.
Nevertheless, as exclusive distributor for Greek publishers in the US he was
not able to cite any measures taken by his bookstore to protect his own interests
and those of Exandas Publishers.
When we asked him to name his other Athenian supplier, apart from Exandas
Publishers, we were told that as he was planning to go to Athens after Easter
he himself wanted to speak to the Athenian supplier first and to investigate
When one of several self-contradictions he had made was pointed out to him,
he told us that there is also another supplier from whom he buys books in
Athens (a fact that he had initially concealed) and that until he himself
had investigated every aspect of the matter, he did not wish to make any further
statement. However, he denied any personal responsibility. He described the
figures for the sales of the book as "fantasy" and added that he
is the victim of a "conspiracy." He did, however, tell us that he
had written to Exandas Publishers and to the book's author, Justine Frangouli.
Although he told us that he would send us copies of the letters, he has so
far not done so.
A charge against the philhellene Nigerian publisher and owner of the sole
Greek bookshop has also been made by another Greek-American lady from Michigan.
She had sent him the sum of 3,000 dollars of which a thousand was to be used
for the purchase of books to be sent free to certain recipients, while the
rest was for the publication of a new book to promote Greek literature.
Mr Chekwas, who cashed only the check for a thousand dollars, sent the lady
receipts for the books, before, however, sending them to the addressees. The
receipts showed that the books had been paid for, not by the Greek-American
lady, but by various recipients. Mr Chekwas explained that, being currently
out of stock, he would send the packages as soon as he had been supplied with
more books. Yet, since a problem had arisen with the lady from Michigan, he
would return her money. The Exandas announcement urged those who had purchased
"pirated copies" to return them to the bookseller and demand the
immediate return of their money.
[Translated from Greek]