ABA, Regionals Respond to B&T Move
The American Booksellers Association and regional booksellers associations are providing help and guidance to independent booksellers following Baker & Taylor's announcement last week that it will cease selling to indie bookstores.
ABA CEO Oren Teicher has sent a detailed letter to member stores outlining "a series of initiatives and developments ABA has undertaken to address the disruption" caused by B&T's move. "We remain committed to working as closely as possible with all industry partners to find a path forward, as well as doing whatever we can directly at ABA to mitigate this situation."
He reported that Ingram has "assured us that they are doing everything necessary to ramp up stock levels at their warehouses, and that they very much want to reach out to stores whose wholesale business was previously concentrated at Baker & Taylor in order to discuss what they are doing and to gain your business. Ingram has agreed to look closely at credit levels and to adjust current tiers to accommodate whatever increased business may be sent their way." Ingram has created a point of contact for ABA members: Nina McClain, v-p of customer care.
The ABA has also been in contact with many publishers, who "understand the magnitude of what's happened. Some publishers are exploring ways to establish more direct accounts; others are focused on increasing stock levels at their own distribution facilities as well as at Ingram."
The ABA has spoken, too, with Bookazine, which is "exploring ways to expand their reach" as well as with others who might fill the void created by B&T.
Teicher reiterated that the association "understands both how critically important rapid replenishment has been--particularly for the Western part of the country--and the role B&T played in facilitating rapid replenishment in that region for some publishers. Along with several industry partners, we are looking at a range of options to ensure rapid replenishment programs do not go away."
For stores that have been using the B&T e-commerce platform, the ABA has created a special introductory offer to switch to the ABA's IndieLite program. "We understand how essential it is today for stores to have a vibrant e-commerce enabled website and we are committed to making it as easy as possible for any store using the B&T platform to start using our program," Teicher wrote.
The ABA will continue updating members as it has more information, and he concluded: "Indie bookstores have demonstrated their resilience many times before, and I'm confident that this resilience--coupled with all the efforts by our industry partners--will get us through a challenging time once again."
Regional independent booksellers associations are also helping members in a variety of ways, discussing the situation and presenting options. Among more formal approaches, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association has created a "wholesaler information and resources" page. MPIBA noted, "From an industry perspective, we share the ABA's concerns about the diminished competition in the book wholesale business, and what that means for cost-effective and rapid supply to our member stores, and ultimately consumers. On a more personal level, we are sad to hear of the extensive layoffs planned, and to lose many wonderful colleagues."
The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is compiling a resource list for booksellers who need to open direct accounts with publishers, and noted that Bookazine, with headquarters in NAIBA territory, aims to "make every effort to step in and fill the void this leaves in the wholesale segment while continuing to provide the same high level standards we do today."
The Great Lakes Independent Bookselling Association has added a resources page about the B&T situation on its website, and is offering to connect bookstores and booksellers with GLIBA mentors. GLIBA noted that Joanna Parzakonis from This Is a Bookstore & BookBug, Kalamazoo, Mich., shared steps the store is taking now:
- processing all of our B&T returns as soon as possible
- scaling back our orders
- increasing our EDI capacity to midsize houses
- setting a schedule to wean our staff off of the B&T database for customer service
- working to identify a wholesale alternative to our store's now only distributor, who we were encouraged to hear some supportive messaging from