Baker & Taylor, one of the two major book distributors in the US, will no longer wholesale books to stores. Parent company Follett calls it a “strategic shift,” explaining, “Exiting wholesale book distribution will allow us to align our resources, technology, and people to do what we do best – helping public libraries support the communities they serve.” Baker & Taylor president Dave Cully says they will work “closely with our existing customers and partners to ensure a smooth transition during this change.” He also admits that “the retail market has become an increasingly difficult one in which to operate.” They expect to close down the retail distribution business by July 15.
This move leaves Ingram as the only large national trade book wholesaler. Ingram quickly announced a plan to help indie booksellers shift to them, offering “quick and effective” credit limit evaluations, “fast-tracking new accounts” for publishers who were exclusive to Baker & Taylor, and more, with CCO Shawn Everson telling the American Booksellers Association, “We know change is hard. We want to help indies through this challenge.”
Oren Teicher, the CEO of ABA, said Baker & Taylor closing is “bad news for booksellers,” pointing out that the “competitive wholesale environment” had played an important role in the resurgence of independent bookstores in recent years. He says ABA will work “as closely as we can with other industry partners to ensure that indie bookstores can continue to access inventory in as cost-effective and rapid a manner as possible to allow member stores to continue to serve their customers.”
Several publishers are taking steps to allow independent bookstores to order directly, including Hachette Book Group and Penguin Random House, with temporary discounts and other incentives. The Independent Publishers Group distribution company is also offering special terms to new members.
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