Berkeley based book group’s bankruptcy hurts small press industry

Berkeley based book distributor’s bankruptcy threatens small publishers, here and around US.

The parent company of Publishers Group West, a locally based company who distribute 150 small press labels like V Vale’s Re/Search, Henry Rollins 2.13.61 and Dave Egger’s McSweeney’s have stopped paying their bills and this is hurting many smaller book imprints. Currently the San Diego based parent company of PGW is holding onto millions of year end receipts, while a buyout offer is being considered from NY based Perseus.

These small press publishers in the meantime have no access to the money made from their sales to chainstores during the year’s final quarter, which is generally the most lucrative time of year.

Affected companies have until Feb. 7 to file objections to a buyout offer, in which clients of PGW could get up to 70 percent of what they are owed, but only if the clients agree to a four-year distribution deal with the NY based firm called Perseus.

Uh, Pray for the publishers…

Publisher’s Group West, which started in the early 1970′s was acquired in 2002 by an out of town firm who had deals with Costco , known as Advanced Marketing Services. Awhile back exec’s there came under scrutiny of the SEC and plead guilty to falsifying some figures… their refusal to restate earnings caused their financing to dry up and whammo…

Hundreds of publishers are now left broke in the lurch…

They were hit hard by the Dec 29th bankruptcy announcement & hung out to dry at the mercy of the AMS bankruptcy and now the courts…

As i watched V Vale of Re/Search play the blues piano this weekend at a birthday party, I had no idea how deeply troubled his local publishing company could be due to this monetary malfeasance…
vale_1932.JPG

I’ve seen similar bad deals go down like this during my time in the music industry and it’s always sad when the little guys who give us all so much, end up paying the price for swimming with sharks & the managerial misdeeds of others.

According to media reports Dave Eggers alone is left owed over $600,000 for his new book that was attempting to raise money for Sudanese refugees…

The SF Chronicle had a longer story on this matter this past weekend, following that link is a list of just some of the hundred+ small publishers caught in the financial fray…

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/27/MNG9DNQ8TM1.DTL

here’s a link from Book Standard, an industry publication

2.13.61 www.21361.com/intro.html
826 Books www.826valencia.org/
Berkeley Hills Books www.berkeleyhills.com
Berrett-Koehler Publishers www.bkpub.com
Dark Horse (Outside US & Canada Only) www.darkhorse.com
Demos Medical Publishing www.demosmedpub.com
Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press www.groveatlantic.com
Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com
Key Porter Books www.keyporter.com
Martin Press www.marintrails.com
McSweeney’s www.mcsweeneys.net/
New Horizon Press www.newhorizonpressbooks.com
New World Library www.nwlib.com
Nolo Press-Occidental www.nolotech.com
North Atlantic Books www.northatlanticbooks.com
RE/Search www.researchpubs.com
Red Eye Press redeyepress.com
Soft Skull Press www.softskull.com
Source Book Publishers www.sourcebookpublications.com

1 Comment so far

  1. violet (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

    Mike, I’m glad you picked this up for Metblogs. that SFGate article was weak, and showed how MSM leans on blogs but doesn’t give credit. what’s more, I’m a columnist for them — and I’ve been covering it on my blog from the start; more info about the fraud charges, the WSJ article, the buyout, and how it affects authors and publishers here:

    http://www.tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2007/01/book_distribution_in_america_a.html
    http://www.tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2007/01/more_bankruptcy_news_oh_joy_1.html
    http://www.tinynibbles.com/blogarchives/2007/01/ams_banckruptcy_update_buyout.html

    also, a lot of us authors are realizing we’re getting screwed by our publisher on top of all this — last week many of us got statements pointing toward a line of text in our contracts stating that our publisher is under no obligation to pay us for books sold but unpaid (like shoplifted books) and they won’t be even trying to work something out with us. it’s a contract scam that 2600 has railed against many times. but it means that many of us — like me — are now *carrying a balance to our publisher* on advances for books that came out during the quarter affected by the bankruptcy. that’s right — when I do finally get another royalty check in 90 days, I’ll OWE them money.

    the authors are the ones really getting killed here. I have no idea how I’m going to survive. finishing a book for them this weekend and knowing I’m screwed for the work I love was one of the most demoralizing moments of my life.



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