On Monday, May 6, the American Booksellers Association e-mailed indie bookstore members to address the recent announcement that Baker & Taylor would be exiting the wholesale distribution of books to retailers.
Here is the letter from ABA CEO Oren Teicher to ABA member stores.
In light of last week’s announcement by Baker & Taylor that they are shutting down their retail wholesale operations, I wanted to share with you a series of initiatives and developments ABA has undertaken to address the disruption to the indie bookstore community resulting from the loss of one of the two national wholesalers. First and foremost, I can assure you that all of us at ABA understand the serious ramifications of B&T’s decision. We remain committed to working as closely as possible with all industry partners to find a path forward, as well as doing whatever we can directly at ABA to mitigate this situation.
Here’s what we can report as of today (Monday, May 6):
1. We have been in close touch with our colleagues at Ingram. They have assured us that they are doing everything necessary to ramp up stock levels at their warehouses, and that they very much want to reach out to stores whose wholesale business was previously concentrated at Baker & Taylor in order to discuss what they are doing and to gain your business. Ingram has agreed to look closely at credit levels and to adjust current tiers to accommodate whatever increased business may be sent their way. This Wednesday’s issue of BTW will report on this in more depth. In the meantime, Ingram has established a point of contact for ABA members, Nina McClain (VP of Customer Care).
2. ABA has spoken to dozens of publishers since B&T’s announcement, and, while each company is independently responding to this news differently, it is clear that our publishing colleagues understand the magnitude of what’s happened. Some publishers are exploring ways to establish more direct accounts; others are focused on increasing stock levels at their own distribution facilities as well as at Ingram. ABA members should contact their reps and/or find publisher contact info in the Book Buyer’s Handbook.
3. ABA has also spoken with wholesaler Bookazine, which is based in Bayonne, NJ. Bookazine is exploring ways to expand their reach, and BTW will report on whatever developments they elect to share. In addition, ABA has spoken to several other entities looking at filling the void left by B&T, and, while it is too soon to know what other options may become available to ABA members, we will continue those discussions.
4. ABA understands both how critically important rapid replenishment has been — particularly for the Western part of the country — and the role B&T played in facilitating rapid replenishment in that region for some publishers. Along with several industry partners, we are looking at a range of options to ensure rapid replenishment programs do not go away. Hopefully, there will be more to report on that in the coming weeks and months.
5. ABA has reached out to all stores that were using the B&T e-commerce platform. We have created a special introductory offer for those stores to switch to our IndieLite program. We understand how essential it is today for stores to have a vibrant e-commerce enabled website and we are committed to making it as easy as possible for any store to start using our program. Anyone interested should contact our IndieCommerce team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, none of us at ABA minimize the challenges this change has caused, and we wanted to share these updates. Clearly, this is just beginning to unfold, and further updates will appear in BTW as things develop. ABA members who have any questions or concerns are encouraged to reach out to their Member Relationship Manager at ABA and/or to me directly. (The Member Relationship Manager for the MPIBA, NCIBA, PNBA, SCIBA, and SIBA regions is Daniel O’Brien, and the Member Relationship Manager for the GLIBA, MIBA, NAIBA, and NEIBA regions is Liz Roberts.)
Indie bookstores have demonstrated their resilience many times before, and I’m confident that this resilience — coupled with all the efforts by our industry partners — will get us through a challenging time once again.
Oren Teicher, CEO
American Booksellers Association