Lit DistCo, the distribution arm of the Literary Press Group of Canada that represents 20 members, has put Indigo Books & Music on hold. Although LPG executive director David Caron declined to comment on whether or not there was a hold situation, sources said that the distributor put the chain on hold because of numerous invoices that are 120 days in arrears.

PW contacted several of Lit DistCo's publisher members directly, who confirmed that Indigo has outstanding invoices dating beyond 120 days. All those contacted stand behind Lit DistCo's decision to put Indigo on hold. One publisher expressed wishful thinking that larger publishers with more clout in the form of bestselling titles—Raincoast Books or Random House of Canada—would join them with holds of their own. Indigo had no comment on Lit DistCo's actions.

Of the Lit DistCo collective, one member stands to be affected more than others if the situation is not quickly resolved. Turnstone Press, a small literary publisher from Winnipeg, is the publisher of Kilter: 55 Fictions by John Gould, a surprise title named to the Giller Prize (Canada's most prestigious literary award for fiction) shortlist last week. Despite the flurry of media attention for the book, Turnstone has maintained its solidarity with Lit DistCo in putting Indigo on hold. "Obviously when the Giller nomination came up, we were presented with a situation where we want to be able to support John and see that his book is promoted and presented in the same venues as everyone else," said Todd Besant, Turnstone's managing editor. Besant hopes the situation will be resolved before Kilter's Giller-inspired reprint of 3,500 copies reaches the Lit DistCo warehouse this week.

The Lit DistCo publishers PW contacted agree that even before the hold decision, the arrears situation placed them in a delicate financial position for the important fall book season. They see the decision to put Indigo on hold less as an attempt to make a political statement than simply following the basic mandate of the business: to get paid for the books they sell.

The Association of Canadian Publishers, which represents approximately 140 Canadian-controlled publishers, also confirmed that its membership have been voicing similar concerns over how closely Indigo has been adhering to the Code of Conduct set out by the competition bureau at the time of its merger with Chapters two years ago. The ACP had already approached Indigo and plans to raise these financial and return issues and other trade concerns at a meeting scheduled with the chain's senior executives later this month.