Readerlink Distribution Services, the country’s largest book distributor to mass merchandisers, has significantly increased its presence in the book creation business by acquiring the Baker & Taylor Publishing Group and Baker & Taylor Marketing Services U.S.

Under the agreement, which closed late Friday, Readerlink takes ownership of B&T’s 504,000 sq. ft. Indianapolis distribution center, as well as BTPG’s general offices in San Diego and its editorial offices in Ashland, Ore.

The publishing operations include the imprints Silver Dolphin, Thunder Bay, Canterbury Classics and Portable Press. Those imprints,which publish about 500 titles annually, will continue, though Readerlink said it will soon re-brand the publishing operation as Printers Row Publishing Group. The services arm, BTMS which specializes in distribution to warehouse clubs, will be changed to Readerlink Marketing Services.

Readerlink said no office, distribution center, or operational changes are planned, and that “all of the current management and employees of the acquired businesses are joining the Readerlink team." Sydney Stanley, executive v-p and general manager, will continue to lead the newly acquired B&T businesses, reporting to Michael Hesselbach, executive v-p and chief marketing officer of Readerlink. In addition, Tyler Meinerding, director of operations, will continue to oversee the Indianapolis distribution center, and will report to James Shriver, Readerlink’s v-p of operations.

Most of the assets in the deal were bought by B&T from Advance Marketing Services in 2007 following the bankruptcy of AMS. B&T paid about $76 million.

BTMS UK and BTMS Mexico are not included in the transaction and will remain subsidiaries of Baker & Taylor. The sale of BTMS and BTPG was the second divestiture B&T made in about a 24-hour period. The company also sold YBP to EBSCO. In both cases, B&T CEO George Coe said the deal will allow the company to focus on its core distribution businesses.

In a statement Dennis E. Abboud, president and CEO of Readerlink, said: “This transaction provides us with additional assets and expertise to continue our long-standing, proven commitment to customer service and to help us and our new retail partners succeed in a dynamic and evolving book market.”