In an all-too-familiar story, another distributor of small press publishers has closed its doors. Last Friday, BookWorld Companies, which was headquartered in Sarasota, Fla., and had a warehouse near Ingram in LaVergne, Tenn., locked its doors—without notifying any of its 104 publishers, some of whom were refugees from previous closings at Access and Word Distribution.

Quickly stepping into the breach is Ashland, Oh.-based AtlasBooks, the trade book distribution division of BookMasters, which got wind of the closing and sent trucks to BookWorld’s warehouse in LaVergne, publishers have been able to get their books. On Monday, AtlasBooks contacted all of BookWorld’s publishers—the first inkling that many had that the company had closed—and gave them the option to ship their books to Ohio or have them returned to them for a nominal fee.

According to AtlasBooks COO Dave Wurster, co-owner of BookMasters, he was able to move so quickly because he had been in talks with BookWorld about purchasing the company. He called them off recently when his due diligence revealed that BookWorld, which had gross sales of $5 million last year, owed $1 million on a line of credit to a local bank.

So far AtlasBooks has signed BookWorld’s largest publisher, Quilt in a Day, and received commitments from over half of the company’s publishers. “All of the large houses and the vast majority of the smallest ones are signing on,” he told PW. One thing that may make the transition for those publishers who do sign on smoother is that AtlasBooks hired Randall McKenzie four months ago. He had previously worked as v-p of sales for BookWorld.

Wurster says that he doesn’t know how small press distributors can make the economics of the business work. What makes his company different is that it has other divisions that provide direct-to-consumer support, a Web site that received upwards of 1.8 million hits a month and a brand new facility that consolidates all of BookMasters printing, fulfillment and distribution areas under one roof.

Calls to BookWorld president Ron Smith were not returned.