Bob Koen, president of cash-strapped Koen Book Distributors, remained hopeful late last week that he will be able to work out a deal to keep the Moorestown, N.J., company operating. "We're still negotiating with our bank," said Bob Koen, who was looking to hammer out an agreement with publishers and the bank for a new line of credit.

Koen has been on credit hold with a number of major publishers for several weeks and it has suspended its buying operations, a move which resulted in the temporary layoff of several buyers. In an earlier bid to cut expenses, Koen laid off some warehouse workers and office staff. Koen is, however, continuing to ship orders and has stock on a number of strong sellers.

Despite reduced inventory and staff, customers continue to support Koen. "There's a huge reservoir of good will and hope that Koen will pull through this," said NEBA executive director Rusty Drugan, "It's very important for the industry that there be a diversity of wholesalers."