Surge in business prompts need for more room

In an aggressive move in an unsettled time for wholesalers, Baker &Taylor Books is nearly doubling its warehouse space and adding music and videos to its stock mix.

The company will expand two of its four warehouses and move the other two, adding a total of 650,000 square feet, an increase of 90%. Three of the four warehouses should be fully operational by September, the fourth, in Momence, Ill., by November.

The number of titles stocked at the warehouses will increase initially by about 50,000, and the depth of stock will also grow. (B&T currently offers some 400,000 titles.) The company will also begin drop-shipping from all warehouses, not just the one in Momence, as is the case now. For the first time, B&T will be able to ship all kinds of product in one box, something that will be of "great value to our traditional and Internet retail customers as well as our library customers," B&T Books president James Ulsamer told PW.

Baker &Taylor Inc., the parent company, is also closing a few of its B&T Entertainment warehouses that stock music, videos, CD-ROMs, games and software titles. "There will be some consolidation of those branches into these major centers," Ulsamer said. "Basically, we're trying to put the two companies together."

Ulsamer added that besides wanting to offer books, music and videos together, the main reason for the change is the need for more space, resulting from a tremendous growth in business. The company requires more room for books in general, for customized library services and for drop shipping, which has been expanding as online bookselling grows.

Sales overall last year were up more than 20% at B&T. Like other wholesalers, the company has benefited from booksellers' negative reaction to the announcement last fall that Barnes &Noble plans to buy Ingram Book Co.

The B&T Books warehouses in Reno, Nev., and Somerville, N.J., will each move a few miles to buildings that are 147,000 and 222,000 square feet larger, respectively, than their current sites; the Commerce, Ga., and Momence warehouses will expand by 145,000 and 144,000 square feet respectively.

In New Jersey, the company currently has three locations, including the Somerville warehouse, offices and the Franklin speed-stock building. All of these facilities will be merged into the new Somerville warehouse building, although offices may take longer to move than the book warehouse.