Rachel Deahl of Publishers Weekly has the story:
A few weeks ago John Mitzel, proprietor of Calamus Books in Boston, was surprised to open his mail and discover he'd been named in a lawsuit filed by an author. The suit, filed by Larry Townsend's attorney for copyright infringement, stems from a dispute over unpaid fees allegedly owed the author by his distributor, the Oklahoma-based Nazca Plains Corp. Nonetheless, the suit charges that Mitzel, along with over 40 other booksellers (including Amazon and Barnes & Noble), infringed on Townsend's copyright by selling the author's books in his store.
I still think it's a weird case, but not as weird as it might first appear. Haven't music stores been sued for selling bootleg recordings? Is this any different?
Whatever the case, the bookseller says that the author is an old friend. Wouldn't a phone call have sufficed?