IPG has acquired Midpoint Trade Books, a 22-year-old book distribution company headquartered in New York City that services 230 publisher clients. The sale, which officially closed on August 17 but was not announced until today, was negotiated between IPG's CEO, Joe Matthews, and Midpoint Trade president and CEO Eric Kampmann. The financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.
According to an IPG release, Midpoint Trade’s inventory will be transferred to IPG’s Chicago warehouse in the first quarter of 2019. (Ingram currently handles shipping for Midpoint Trade through its 3PL division.)
With the sale, Midpoint Trade has become IPG’s seventh distribution program. These IPG "programs" are designed to meet the specific needs of various publishers and market segments, such as academic/professional books, art books, exports, Spanish-language books, micro-presses, and digital books.
Kampmann, who launched Midpoint Trade in 1996 to service small and indie presses, will act as a consultant and advisor during the transition. He said will remain in this role for “at least two years.” Kampmann, despite selling Midpoint Trade, retains ownership of two publishing houses: Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press. The two presses will continue distribution through Midpoint Trade/IPG.
Alex Kampmann, who is Eric’s son and previously director of sales and marketing at Midpoint Trade, will take over the daily management of Midpoint Trade; his new title is v-p, general manager, Midpoint Trade Books.
While Eric noted that there will be “a consolidation of certain activities in the first quarter of 2019," he explained that "most of the decisions have yet to be made.” He added that the 12 ] full-time Midpoint Trade employees will remain in place for the time being.
“Our chief concern is to maintain the highest level of services for our publishers now and throughout the 5-6 month transition period and, of course, beyond,” Eric told PW.
Speaking about the acquisition, IPG's Matthews said that, right now, the publishing industry "is consolidating because distribution rewards scale, requires expensive technology, and demands high-level access to customers." He went on: "By bringing together these two established distributors, publishers will benefit greatly as IPG accelerates its investments in service and innovation.”
Eric added that, for some time, he has been thinking the time had come for " a younger generation of motivated, energetic publishing talent" to take over Midpoint. "But I also recognized." he said, "that we could not do this on our own. This merger of talent and experience from both IPG and Midpoint will place the combined companies on a whole new level of excellence in service.”