Baker &Taylor, a book distribution giant, is ending its retail distribution business to concentrate on the library and educational markets, according to a memo sent out yesterday by President David Cully.
B&T is one of the main graphic novel distributors to comics shops and bookstores so this will have a big effect. The distribution business was the subject of rumors that Ingram, another book distro giant, wold be buying it but that remains speculative.
Here’s the memo:

B&T is one of the sources for graphic novel sthat many comics shops and bookstores rely on, so this is a huge deal. Here’s the memo:
Today Baker & Taylor and Follett are announcing changes to the Baker & Taylor operational footprint and the markets we serve. Over the coming weeks, Baker & Taylor will be exiting the wholesale retail book market. We will wind down our activities and related services selling books wholesale to retailers.
The decision to exit the retail business was not an easy one but the retail market has become an increasingly difficult one in which to operate. The leadership at Baker & Taylor studied options that might help our retail performance and ultimately determined that the best course for Baker & Taylor is to focus on our public library and publisher services businesses. Our plan is to complete our exit of the retail wholesale business by July 15.
Below are answers to some common questions.
When will Baker & Taylor stop servicing retail customers?
Baker & Taylor will be winding down the retail business between May 1 and July 15.
Who will be able to handle my questions during the wind down?
Please continue to contact your customer service and credit account representative with any questions you may have.
When is the last day that Baker & Taylor will ship customer orders?
July 15 is the last day Baker & Taylor will ship retail orders.
What will happen to any items that are on backorder?
Backorders for books with pub dates after July 1 will be cancelled from the Baker & Taylor system to allow customers to source from other vendors. Backorders for catalog items will be cancelled at noon on July 15.
Serving the retail book market for decades has been a privilege. We are committed to working with you to complete this exit in the least disruptive way possible.

At PW, Jim Milliott delved more into the story, stating that B&T will slowly phase out the business, allowing stores to find new vendors.

David Cully, president of B&T, said the move also reflects changes in the trade market where more publishers are selling directly to accounts, which lowers their dependence on wholesalers. Cully did not address the Ingram rumors directly, but said B&T “had explored lots of different options” and believes closing the retail business “is the most prudent option to take.” About 500 jobs will be cut in the process.
Cully said B&T will work with both publishers and booksellers in transitioning their business to other companies and said the company will not rush the process. “We don’t want to disrupt anyone’s business,” he said. “We want to give all our partners time to make their adjustments to their supply chain.”
Cully did not have a firm timetable for when B&T would exit the retail business, saying it was likely B&T would support that side of the business at least through the summer. He noted that B&T’s warehouses in Bridgewater, N.J., and Reno, Nev., will be closed no later than the end of the year.

While the book selling business that B&T had won’t be lacking for people to pick it up, this could also cause some disruptions in the months to come. Developing.

Photo credit: Pexels

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Wow I know there are some comic shops that use B&T to get books the Diamond doesn’t carry, or doesn’t carry in significant quantity. This is going to suck for them. Hopefully another distributor can do what they did and at B&T’s terms of sale.

  2. WOW. 20 years ago, Barnes & Noble tried to acquire Ingram.
    When I sold books in NYC, my store used Bookazine as our primary special order vendor, since they were nearby and could ship the order same-day. Everything else either came direct from the publishers, or from Ingram. B&T was listed as a distributor when placing special orders, but it was a distant third. If memory serves, there were about 30 publishers we dealt with directly.
    Here’s something to consider: libraries and schools are the other “Direct Market” for publishers. Libraries do not return books for credit, unlike bookstores. This simplifies the supply chain, increasing efficiencies, and improving the bottom line. Schools and libraries, while subject to budget cuts, are also less likely to “go out of business”.

  3. Everyone I know who are dealing with Comic Shops directly are starting to ask how much their Accounts Receivable with them are worth ?
    Even if you get a cheque in advance or on delivery, it can come back on you in a few weeks and then how many shipments are you burnt for ?
    I expect credit terms ( if any ) to be start to be drastically tightened in 2019. In other words, surviving comic book stores will be paying the price for the bad debts of the bankrupt ones.

  4. If comic and graphic novel sales are so vigorous, how come B&T isn’t keeping that part of the business active… even if they shed everything else except library sales? The recent report of record comic sales for 2018 doesn’t seem to jibe with the sales numbers I have seen for average comic books; as well as reports of store closings… Are sales so good because all the inventory is sitting on store shelves? I think I am missing part of the bigger picture.
    This interview from Gerry Conway seems to address a lot of issues:
    https://bleedingfool.com/blogs/gerry-conway-concedes-the-comics-industry-is-in-decline/

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