THE collapse of a North-East vanity publishing company has left dozens of disappointed authors thousands of pounds out of pocket.

Publishers Pentland Press, which operated from offices in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, went into liquidation two weeks ago, following an extraordinary general meeting of its creditors.

With a head office in Edinburgh and a sister company in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the US, Pentland had an international list of clients who paid an average of £8,000 to have their work printed and distributed.

They took on 100 authors a year and many have lost money, including a disillusioned former Darlington headteacher who is more than £9,000 down.

Torquil Cowan, head of Longfield School from 1990 to 1993 and now living in Wales, considered taking legal action against Pentland after recouping royalties of less than £400 from £9,600 he paid the company to print his thriller Danger At Dawn.

But Mr Cowan said: "It left me with a total lack of faith."

Carnegie Publishers, from Lancaster, which has offered to help disappointed authors, said yesterday it had installed an extra telephone line to cope with 30 calls a day from former Pentland clients.

Managing director Alistair Hodge said: "Pentland had 67 books in the production phase and we are trying to help the authors by seeking to get their books published under new contracts with us.

"Pentland authors whose books are already published have been contacting us to ask us to warehouse the books and distribute their books through the book trade."

Neither Pentland director John A Phillips, of Brandon Village, near Durham, nor company secretary Judith Wilson, from Abbey Springs, Darlington, could be contacted last night.