Even as some former clients of Small Press Distribution begin to find new distribution homes, many unanswered questions remain about the final disposition of books for many presses, a combination that has resulted in growing frustration toward SPD. Emails to former SPD executive director Kent Watson from PW have gone unanswered since the news of the closure was announced; Watson's reply still points to the link that announced the closure.

"I just would like to know why Kent didn’t warn anyone. Why was it so sudden?" said the head of a small press, who wished to remain anonymous. Others, including distributors, are equally angry over the failure of SPD to help fill in the information gap about a host of issues, including where books are currently stored and how publishers will be paid. "This was really not handled with any respect or care on SPD leadership and board’s part," said Krystal Languell a former employee of Belladonna Collaborative and interim board member. A number of presses have contacted PW to say they have not heard from with either Ingram Content Group or Publishers Shipping & Storage (PSSC) about where their books are located.

The lack of clarity about where books are stored has added to some publishers' anxiety about meeting a 60-day deadline to remove inventory from Ingram's warehouse issued late last week. An Ingram spokesperson said the company has some flexibility within the 60-day timeframe, but stressed that the company needs a prompt response about where publishers want their books to go. The spokesperson added Ingram's intention remains to minimize the financial impact on publishers of SPD's collapse, and that it continues to work with publishers to inform them not only of the options they have at Ingram, but with other distributors as well. In addition, the spokesperson said Ingram is exploring additional options to provide to publishers who are unable to relocate their inventory in a timely fashion.

PSSC's Pam Nuffer said she sent an email to all publishers that have inventory in the company's warehouse that had not already contacted her directly. "I let them know their books are safe in our warehouse and I will be sending further information on the options they have available for their inventory along with their inventory list," Nuffer said. Some emails came back as undeliverable and Nuffer will continue to try to reach them. Any publishers that have not yet contacted PSSC can email Nuffer at pnuffer@pssc.com.

Asterism, Itasca Take on Publishers

Asterism Books, the Seattle distributor and online bookstore founded by Joshua Rothes of Sublunary Editions and Phil Bevis of Chatwin Books, reports picking up more than 40 new publishers, “most of whom were impacted by the abrupt closure of SPD." More than 30 of the presses have moved all their distribution to Asterism from SPD, including Anvil Press, Entre Rios Books, and Lavender Ink/Diálogos. Two presses, Spurs Editions and Veliz Books, previously worked with SPD for wholesale only, and Asterism now will fulfill those orders.

“We will be continuing to expedite our approval process” to help presses get on board, Asterism wrote in a statement. The company also has reached out to Ingram and PSSC "about the possibility of consolidating shipments to our warehouse to save publishers time and money," but has no plan yet in place.

"Obviously we didn't foresee a crisis, but there were a lot of SPD presses that had already had conversations with us, so we were already expanding and accommodating," said Laura Paul, marketing director at Asterism. "We were connected to a lot of folks, and unfortunately they're in a bad situation right now."

Asterism differs from other small press distributors in that it charges no fees, but it also does not allow returns except for books ordered for events. Bevis says large bookstores haven't balked at the no-returns policy, and that Asterism, which doesn't sell to Amazon or online discounters, gets steady reorders. "We’re transparent internally and with our presses and authors with our data," Paul said, "and we're doing immediate payouts. Cash flows directly back to the people who are making the books, the writers and the publishers."

Itasca Books, the distribution arm of Minneapolis-based Bookmobile, has added Noemi Press as a client. Nicole Baxter, director of sales, marketing, and special services, said Itasca has been working with CLMP/SPD publishers to answer logistic questions and expects to sign additional publishers soon. She noted that Itasca will accept single-title publishers and currently has about 150 clients that it distributes to all trade accounts.

This article has been updated.