With little hope that the leadership of Small Press Distribution will emerge to help sort through the chaos caused by their abrupt closing at the end of March, other organizations have begun stepping in to try and mitigate the damage. One potential lifeline came through last week, when the Poetry Foundation announced the establishment of a new $150,000 bridge fund to help nonprofit poetry presses affected by SPD’s collapse.

According to an April 25 announcement, the fund will operate through an “open request” process, providing grants that range up to $7,500 per press, with the foundation accepting requests on a rolling basis until September 1, or until the fund has been exhausted. To answer questions about the new fund, the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) will hold an information session with Poetry Foundation staff on Tuesday, April 30, at 3 pm CT.

In addition, the Poetry Foundation announced that it has also expedited $250,000 in grants to nonprofit small presses (which are open to poetry and prose publishers) who had applied as part of its regular spring grants cycle. The foundation will begin accepting applications for its regular fall cycle on June 1.

Furthermore, former SPD clients based in New York State can also apply for financial help through the NYSCA-CLMP Forward Fund. The fund offers one-time grants of $500 and $1,000 to help defray expenses related to the SPD closure. The application process is now open via the CLMP website and will run through May 17. Grants will be announced on May 30.

While the grant programs are welcome news, a growing number of publishers are also turning to GoFundMe campaigns to raise money. One such press is Fonograf Editions, whose owners hope to recoup $12,000 in royalty checks that were never paid by SPD, as well as to raise $3,000 to handle shipping and handling costs of moving to a new distributor.

The nonprofit record label/book publisher has released 16 books and records over the past two years and hopes to release more than 19 works from established and debut authors over the next two years. As of press time, Fonograf’s campaign had raised nearly $9,000, three-quarters of its goal.

Meanwhile, some former SPD clients are making progress finding new distributors, even as they grapple with financial and logistical challenges. As of this writing, Asterism Books had signed more than 60 publishers, Itasca Books had onboarded eight presses, and the Independent Publishers Group had signed agreements with two publishers and has deals pending with eight others.

Of course, with new distributors lined up, the challenge for many publishers remains how to help fund the transfer of their books, which are now being stored in warehouses owned by the Ingram Content Group and Publishers Shipping and Storage, to their new homes. Asterism’s Phil Bevis said he is in contact with Ingram and PSSC in an effort to arrange bulk shipping of inventories as a way to save publishers money and minimize damage to inventories. No agreement has been signed to date, Bevis said, but conversations continue.

Sources also told PW that the extent of the confusion caused by SPD abruptly closing so soon after shipping its entire inventory to Ingram and PSSC is becoming more apparent. For example, Ingram had been expecting to get books for about 50 of SPD’s largest clients, but instead received inventory for some 130 publishers.

For its part, PSSC is offering publishers with inventory in its warehouse the option to become a PSSC client. PSSC director of sales and marketing Pam Nuffer said the company has reached out to more than 300 publishers with books in its warehouse and has heard back from a little over half.

For publishers that have requested their books to be shipped, Nuffer said PSSC is preparing estimates for the shipping and handling costs, which it will begin to email to publishers this week. Once payment is received, PSSC will begin shipping the inventory, she said. PSSC has also extended the grace period through June 30, after which it will institute storage charges, and Nuffer said the company continues to reach out to publishers it has not yet heard from about how they would like their books to be handled. For publishers that want their inventory destroyed, PSSC will do so at no charge.

Meanwhile, the only communication publishers say they have received from SPD has come from the distributor’s lawyer. In a letter dated April 10, SPD attorney Mary Dowling informed publishers that if they wish to assert a claim against SPD, they must file a form with her San Diego firm by August 8, along with copies of any relevant documents.

At press time, Dowling had not responded to PW’s request for more information about the dissolution process.