On Wednesday, May 1, Baker & Taylor announced that it is exiting the wholesale distribution of books to retailers. The company said that the decision reflected a shift in its business operations to align with the education focus of parent company Follett Corporation.
In a May 6 letter to American Booksellers Association bookstore members, ABA CEO Oren Teicher addressed the announcement and provided a look at ABA efforts to mitigate the situation.
Follett acquired Baker & Taylor in 2016 to take advantage of the complementary strengths in the companies’ respective school and public library businesses. Follett serves more than 90,000 schools and school libraries in the U.S., Canada, and 140 countries, while Baker & Taylor supports 6,000 public library systems, representing 90 percent of all U.S. public libraries.
“Baker & Taylor’s public library business is critical to Follett’s goal of improving the quality of life in communities through learning and education,” said Pat Connolly, president and CEO of Follett Corporation. “This shift for Baker & Taylor reflects our intent to focus all of Follett’s capabilities, resources and investments to helping people learn, grow, and thrive in communities everywhere.”
“Public libraries have always been core to Baker & Taylor’s business, which is why this change will help accelerate the pace of innovative solutions our teams are introducing to drive community outcomes,” said David Cully, president of Baker & Taylor. “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.”
“We will be working closely with our existing customers and partners to ensure a smooth transition during this change,” Cully added.
According to Baker & Taylor, current promotions and support of the Indie Next program will end on May 31. Author event orders will be shipped through June 1, and all not-yet-published titles will ship through June. All open orders for pub dates after July 1 will be canceled. The last day for shipping all other orders is July 15; any orders received after noon on July 15 will be canceled, including home delivery orders. The last day B&T will accept overstock returns at the returns center is July 30. In addition, all requests for 2019 co-op reports must be made by July 1.
Stores using Baker & Taylor’s My Books & More e-commerce solution will need to arrange for a new e-commerce provider prior to June 30. On July 1, My Books & More sites will come down. After July 1, B&T will run the final revenue share reports and issue the final checks.
ABA has reached out to all stores that were using the B&T e-commerce platform with a special introductory offer for those stores to switch to ABA’s IndieLite program. Interested stores should contact the IndieCommerce team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For booksellers participating in the STEPS program, B&T will ship the opening order as planned and provide inventory files to the store’s POS vendor. STEPS returns will be accepted up to six months from the initial receipt. B&T will ship not-yet-published titles through June, while all open orders for pub dates after July 1 will be canceled. B&T’s last day for shipping all other orders is July 15; any orders received after noon on July 15 will be canceled.
Baker & Taylor Publisher Services is not impacted by this change, nor is Baker & Taylor’s subsidiary businesses in the U.K. and Mexico. Baker & Taylor’s decision to exit the retail book distribution business follows Follett’s sale of Baker & Taylor’s retail entertainment products business in January of this year.