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'No Ties Between Ingram Entertainment and Book Co.'
Jim Milliot -- 5/25/98
John Ingram, chairman of Ingram Book Co. and co-president of Ingram Industries, is livid about a May 18 New York Times story concerning Ingram Entertainment's involvement with Speedserve (The Times ran a correction May 20). Ingram Entertainment has a controlling interest in Speedserve, an online retailer whose main product is videocassettes, but which also offers 1.4 million books at discounts up to 40% on certain titles. Several of Ingram Entertainment's video-store accounts have protested the move, claiming it puts the wholesaler in competition with its customers.
The part of the story that has drawn John Ingram's wrath is that it tied Ingram Industries to Ingram Entertainment run by his brother David. "We are totally separate companies. We have zero interest in Ingram Entertainment and they have zero interest in us," John Ingram told PW. "David and I have a good personal relationship, but I don't tell him how to run his business," John Ingram said, noting that when his brother made the investment in Speedserve, he resigned from Ingram Entertainment's board. "I didn't want there to appear to be any conflict of interest with our customers," John Ingram insisted, adding that Ingram Industries has no plans to establish an online service that would compete with its accounts. Ingram Industries will limit its involvement to fulfilling orders from online booksellers, John Ingram said.
New Northeast Initiative
Ingram Book Co., meanwhile, has launched a program designed to speed service to customers in the Northeast as well as to increase the number of titles in its regional warehouses. Although there had been rumors that the company was preparing to open a new warehouse somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic states, the initiative announced last week involves adding inventory to and "pairing" its warehouses in East Windsor, Conn., and Petersburg, Va..Under the change, the two warehouses will carry approximately 400,000 different titles between them, triple the previous level. Previously, many of the titles had to be ordered from the warehouse in La Vergne, Tenn., which meant a two- or three-day wait. Now, booksellers in the New York City and Boston areas have until 5:30 p.m. to place orders for next-day delivery, while booksellers in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore have until 5 p.m.
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