Small Press Distribution (SPD) has named Kent Watson as executive director, effective immediately. SPD, based in Berkeley, Calif., is one of the nation’s oldest and largest distributors of independent publishers. Watson will replace interim executive director Cindy Myers, who stepped into the role after the resignation of Brent Cunningham.

Watson had been the executive director of Pub West from 2007 until he stepped down in June 2020. Most recently, Watson served as principal director of industry consultancy firm, Book Dimensions. Watson, who will work remotely, said in a statemen that he will "work tirelessly to expand the services and reach for the nearly 400 SPD publishers whose books connect writers and readers beyond the mainstream.”

The appointment of Watson closes a 18-month period of uncertainty for SPD. In March 2021, former SPD executive director Brent Cunningham stepped down following employee complaints regarding wage violations and allegations of workplace discrimination. Three months prior, a public letter calling for Cunningham's resignation gained hundreds of signatures from across the publishing community. Board president Alan Bernheimer confirmed at the time that Cunningham's ultimate departure was due to the findings of an internal investigation commissioned by the organization's board of directors in response to the letter.

In a statement, Bernheimer expressed confidence in Watson's appointment. “SPD is very fortunate to have Kent as its new executive director,” he said. “His wealth of experience in all aspects of the book business, together with his management skills, equip him to lead SPD forward in fulfilling its mission."