Advanced Marketing Services is combining its seven different distribution companies into a new network that will be called Publishers Group Worldwide (PGW). The new PGW will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where the company will display its new name under the familiar PGW acronym and logo.

According to Mark Ouimet, executive v-p of marketing and international distribution for Publishers Group West, the formation of the new division has been in the works since January 2002. "A week after we were acquired, we started talking about the opportunity to have a worldwide distribution network," he told PW.

While Publishers Group West is the centerpiece of the division, AMS first began piecing together a global distribution system three years ago, with the acquisition of Bookwise International in South Adelaide, Australia. The process accelerated last year with the purchase of Publishers Group West and also Airlift Book Company and HI Marketing in London, England, which will share office space starting in November and have a single sales force in January 2004. At the same time, Raincoast Books, in which AMS has a minority stake, bought Publishers Group Canada. The other companies in Publishers Group Worldwide include AMS Mexico and Bookwise Asia in Singapore, the two-year-old offshoot of Bookwise International. "The really interesting thing about the companies here," Ouimet pointed out, "is that they are all full distribution companies. Publishers are getting everything outside of printing and editorial."

"The international solution was one of the things that brought me here," noted newly installed Publishers Group West president Rich Freese, who regards consolidating shipping as the next step in the development of Publishers Group Worldwide. For now, Publishers Group Worldwide offers publishers a chance to simplify their worldwide distribution efforts by working with several companies operating under the Publishers Group Worldwide umbrella, but with only one primary contact company. Under the structure, marketing directors for non—Publishers Group West companies will report to Ouimet regarding marketing issues, while operational issues for those units will be overseen by Mike Kidd, v-p international and group managing director.

So far, 400 publishers are represented by Publishers Group Worldwide in more than one area of the world, and Freese plans to expand these efforts as well. "It's our intent to not limit it to English-language publishers," he said.

AMS Still Mystified

In other AMS news, CFO Edward Leonard told an analysts' meeting earlier this month that the company still doesn't know why the government is investigating its co-op advertising services or what it hopes to find in AMS's records. "We do not know at this point what precipitated the subpoena, but we're cooperating and working through this as quickly as possible," Leonard said.