Small Press Distribution, one of the last remaining independent book distributors in the United States, has closed. In an announcement made March 28, SPD executive director Kent Watson said that the closure is effective immediately, and that the staff is in the process of winding down the business.

Watson cited a decline in sales and a loss of institutional support as the reasons forcing the distributor, founded in 1969, to close. “Despite the heroic efforts of a tireless staff to raise new funds, find new sales channels for our presses, and move from our outdated Berkeley warehouse, we are simply no longer able to make ends meet,” said Watson in a statement. In February, SPD completed moving more than 300,000 titles from its Berkeley facility to warehouses owned by the Ingram Content Group and Publishers Storage and Shipping.

The transfer was part of Watson’s plan to keep the nonprofit distributor a viable option for small publishers by cutting operating costs while simultaneously increasing services such as access to print-on-demand facilities, e-book and audiobook distribution, and more extensive distribution in the U.S and worldwide.

The move from the Berkeley warehouse was facilitated by a GoFundMe campaign that raised $100,000. Watson launched a second effort last month in an attempt to raise another $75,000 to roll out the new services to publishers, but the campaign was having trouble gaining traction. In announcing the closing, Watson said that the warehouse shift took longer and cost more than SPD had planned for, while systems integration delays further strained SPD’s financial resources. Part of that strain, Watson elaborated, was due to a loss of $125,000 in annual grants SPD had previously received, a loss Watson attributed to “funders [moving] away from supporting the arts.”

At the moment, all SPD inventory remains at the Ingram and PSSC warehouses. In a post on its website, SPD said publishers will need to contact Ingram or PSSC to discuss distribution options and the return or disposition of their books.

The demise of SPD is another blow to independent publishers looking for distribution options to reach retail accounts. “I am saddened by the closure of SPD, which has been a longstanding and respected institution in the independent publishing community, and critical to making independent books accessible to readers,” Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, CEO of Independent Book Publishers Association, told PW. "Unfortunately, the loss of yet another independent distributor further increases the inequity in market access between corporate and independent publishing and ultimately hurts small business owners and consumers. As an industry, we have to do better in supporting organizations whose business it is to promulgate independent thought and diverse perspectives.”