I don't think it's quite the conspiracy it might appear. For instance, this summer Penguin had to shuffle half their writers around because Dick Francis suddenly produced a book and as summertime is bestseller season, that's where he's earmarked. And it'd do them no good at all releasing other books they want to sell at the same time as that because Francis would be hogging column space in papers, advertising spend, blah blah blah. Which means either before or afterwards - and someone's always got to be afterwards. A publisher can't hold off on releasing anything for two months every time a big name hits the stands just to make sure everyone gets breathing room.
There are plenty of ways of cancelling a deal that don't involve such arcane ins and outs - and it'd be a rare writer indeed on a multi-book contract who'd be so discouraged they wouldn't write another. Delivering a book under most contracts = a chunk of advance money to which you're entitled. If you don't have a contract where that's very much, chances are you're not expected to sell so much and the publishers won't need to try scaring you off to get rid of you on the cheap; they'll just do a limited print run, no promo and write the whole thing off as a bad loss. If you are on a contract with a big advance, you might as well write the things and get the advance cash.
Penguin/Michael Joseph are another publisher that are notorious for messing about with publication dates, especially the lesser known authors.How many different dates have we had this year for John Rickard's book no3?
It seems strange how MJ/Peng wont mess about Jonathan Kellerman or PJ Tracy?is this a case of double standards?
In this particular case, the problem was getting a cover that wasn't shite, something which neither of the above suffered from. And which, when it comes down it, is the fault of the designers. It wasn't schedule changing for the hell of it. The final change to next spring was made because, with the cover still being finalised/sorted in July, the planned November release couldn't have included the supermarkets as they do their ordering for the Christmas run-up in May. So they moved it to spring (February according to Amazon).
Kellerman and Tracy haven't had that problem. That's all. No double standards, no grand conspiracy, no great unfairness, nothing. Granted it's not ideal, but it happens.