Hundreds Of Indie Publishers Scramble Following Small Press Distribution’s Sudden Collapse


Former clients of Small Press Distribution are still scrambling to find viable options to replace the services provided by SPD before the distributor abruptly shut down last Thursday. SPD provided distribution to about 400 publishers, including a large number of literary presses.

The closing of the distributor sent shockwaves throughout the entire independent publishing community, as it came with little warning and amid a push by SPD to add new services after moving 300,000 titles from its old warehouse in Berkeley, Calif., to new facilities owned by Ingram Content Group and Publishers Storage and Shipping (PSSC).

Diane Goettel, publisher of SPD client Black Lawrence, said that while she had heard some rumors about SPD being in trouble, the company was operating as if everything was fine, and noted that she had placed an order on SPD’s website just 24 hours before it announced its closure. Goettel said that she was saddened by the closure of SPD not only for the loss of services it had already provided, but also for the loss of new programs it had promised through SPD Next, which planned to offer print-on-demand services as well as e-book and audiobook distribution. “It looked like they were bringing SPD into the 21st century,” Goettel told PW.

SPD’s titles remain in the Ingram and PSSC warehouses, and an email SPD sent to its clients directed them to contact either Ingram at DSBusOps@ingramcontent.com or pnuffer@pssc.com to discuss the status of their books. The email also noted that the dissolution of SPD’s assets will be overseen by the Superior Court of California. In addition to getting back their books, SPD publishers are looking to recover outstanding payments—but how much money presses will receive after other SPD creditors are satisfied is an open question. Among other concerns, the lack of cash will make it difficult for some publishers to pay their royalties.

Since the collapse of SPD, The Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) has held two informational meetings. A Monday afternoon meeting was attended by 162 people, including PSSC vice president Anne Meier and director of sales and marketing Pam Nuffer. In a Q&A session facilitated by CLMP’s Mary Gannon, the PSSC reps said that the company has been receiving books since October and still have some shipments that are currently being processed.

Like most everyone in the business, the PSSC execs added, they didn’t have any warning about SPD’s closure. With no notice, the company still needs to meet internally to discuss procedures for returning books to those publishers who choose that option, and to share information about pricing for their services, they noted. In addition, PSSC is still determining what, if any, grace period they will extend to presses whose books are in their warehouse.

The meeting also showed that communication between all parties in the wake of SPD’s demise is proving a challenge. Some presses are not entirely clear where their books are, and PSSC doesn’t have direct contact information for some of the presses whose books they have, Gannon said. She added that CLMP is working to help resolve this gap by connecting presses with PSSC and vice versa.

For its part, an Ingram spokesperson issued a statement to PW saying that the company is prepared to do what it can “to ensure continuity and success for independent publishers impacted by this latest closure.” According to the statement, Ingram “is reaching out directly to those affected to provide them with the best guidance and support possible in line with Ingram’s standard business practices and terms.”

Given the variety of publishers SPD carried, some may be considered for a traditional wholesale relationship with Ingram, and others might be directed to use Ingram’s Lightning Source service. Still others, particularly those with very small lists, will likely be ineligible to become IPS distribution clients.

Other small press distributors are also hastening to fill the gap left by SPD. At trade distributor and indie bookstore Asterism, which was founded in 2023, Phil Bevis said, “We can handle an influx of up to 100 additional presses. We’ve had a ton of folks move over from SPD in the last year, I think about 30 so far.” Bevis added that Asterism can expand its current warehousing and distribution footprint if necessary in order to make way for new clients, and noted that the distributor charges no fees to set up an account, list titles, or warehouse books: “The only revenue we get is by selling books, and that is a flat 24%.”

Bevis added that Asterism can be a viable option for indies too small to work with IPS: “We get shipments as small as five or 10 copies from some presses,” he said, and “as big as 1,000 copies of individual books where demand is anticipated.” Asterism marketing director Laura Paul noted that the distributor has scheduled information sessions the week, April 3 (3:00 p.m. EDT) and April 4 (6:00 p.m. EDT), for indie publishers who are considering getting on board.





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