It’s not just publishers that are consolidating. While Penguin and Random House were completing their merger, Baker & Taylor’s majority owner, the private equity firm Castle Harlan Partners IV, L.P., was finalizing a transaction of its own. Late last week it purchased 41-year-old Bookmasters in Ashland, Ohio. Baker & Taylor and Bookmasters now have a contractual commercial relationship that will enable Baker & Taylor to offer many of the same publisher services as its largest competitor Ingram Content Group.
Both Dave Wurster, CEO of Bookmasters, and his brother, Matt Wurster, COO, will stay on with Bookmasters, which will remain in Ohio, close to the Baker & Taylor warehouse in Momence, Ill. David Cully, president of retail markets and executive v-p of merchandising for Baker & Taylor, told PW that he will be “intimately involved with Bookmasters and bringing them clients.”
The impetus for the move, according to Cully, is for Baker & Taylor to offer publishers more services and to position publishers to improve services in the supply chain during a time of transition to digital in the book business. “This partnership enables us to go from zero to 60. Baker & Taylor is excited to offer our publishing partners the unique benefits and value of Bookmasters’s suite of services,” he said. “This is a real complement. We’ve offered so many services to our retail, education, and library partners. We thought it was time to offer a complete suite of services to our publishers as well.”
Through the partnership with Bookmasters, Baker & Taylor will provide third-party fulfillment, POD, offset printing, and e-book conversion, as well as content, editorial, book sales, and marketing services. “We look forward to working with Baker & Taylor to build value and to become a leader in the publisher services industry,” added Dave Wurster.