By Angela Bole, IBPA Chief Executive Officer —
On March 30, 2016 the IBPA office learned via Publishing Weekly that Partners Book Distributing was closing and that shipping of orders would stop as of close of business on April 1, 2016. The notice read, in part:
“After 32 years, Partners Book Distributing will stop shipping orders on Friday, April 1. A single company, founded by Vicky Eaves and Sam Speigel, which operated as two separate regional wholesalers—Partners/East in Holt, Mich., and Partners/West in Renton, Wash., Partners served as a key wholesaler in the West and Midwest. Partners also offered distribution to small presses.”
After reading the notice and doing some follow-up, we learned that many of Partners’ small press clients also learned about the closing from news media or colleagues before hearing about it from Partners themselves. A member emailed just this morning, for example, saying he had received a phone call from someone at Partners East today, checking on their return address. This was the first he’d heard that Partners is closed and he wondered if we had any information. In addition, other members have reached out over the past week letting us know they’ve received no information about how to pick up books still in Partners’ system and asking if we might help them find out what’s going on.
Today, we reached out to Sam and Sara Speigel for a statement we could share with the IBPA community. We explained the situation above and asked their advice on what to tell IBPA members about how to set their exceptions through the transition. The rumor mill had it, for example, that Midpoint agreed to take on all Partners’ publishers. If this wasn’t true, we wanted to quiet these rumors.
Here is the statement the IBPA office received from Sam and Sara Speigel this morning:
“We are in the process of reconciling accounts and returning books. Letters will go out to all publishers soon. There is much confusion between the wholesale division (Partners East and Partners West) and the distribution division (Partners Publishers Group-PPG). At this time, only the PPG publishers are transitioning to Midpoint Trade and then only if they reach an agreement with Midpoint Trade. Letters have already gone out to PPG publishers regarding this option. Midpoint will be contacting them soon.”
We then asked:
“And what of the publishers who tell us they have physical inventory housed with Partners East and/or Partners West and are unable to find out what will be done with it? Will you be shipping this inventory back to each publisher? Will this be at your expense? Or their expense? When should they expect to receive details on this? Or, has all this already been communicated and there’s a place on your website (or elsewhere) where I can point people?”
To which Partners replied:
“We already addressed much of this in the statement sent. Individual arrangements will be made with each publisher.”
This is all the information IBPA has at this time. We will keep the IBPA community looped into further information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please feel free to post any comments or feedback here for others to view and consider.
On a personal note, I wish the folks at Partners best of luck as they move things forward. They have traditionally provided great support to indie presses and bookstores alike. One less small press distributor is certainly a loss for our industry.