Small Press Distribution Sold 150,000 Books by Independent Publishers Last Year

September 30, 2015

Small Press Distribution (SPD), a nonprofit book distributor that moves books by independent publishers to major retailers, is meeting some impressive sales goals writes Adam Robinson at Real Pants.

In an interview, SPD Operations Director Brent Cunningham told Robinson that SPD—which is headquartered in Berkeley, California—sold 150,000 books from about 400 small presses just last year.

“[T]hat breaks down to just under 600 books every working day,” said Cunningham. “Of course there are relative spikes, and relative down times, but these days we usually fill up our outgoing rollers with boxes every single day.”

SPD is the only nonprofit book distributor of its kind—in operation since 1969—that has enabled significant sales of buzzed about books such as The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink (Dorothy, 2014) and The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison by Maggie Smith (Tupelo Press, 2015).

The nonprofit’s sales enables them to support publishers and authors whose books might not otherwise receive the attention that books by mainstream publishers receive.

“We’re in it to support the literary communities around the country and the world that seek our support,” publicity manager Trisha Low told The Daily Californian. “Many of our presses will start out with us and then they’ll kind of graduate to for-profit distributors that have even greater range, as far as distribution goes, than us, because they have more resources. But other publishers, like one of our biggest publishers, Ugly Duckling Presse, will never leave SPD, because it’s part of their mission not to enter into that for-profit bracket. They want to be grassroots and try to stay with our mission.”

SPD finds itself thriving among all the gloom and doom being spread around about the book industry, adds Cunningham.

“I’ve been in the business about 16 years now, and I’ve been through two major announcements that the print book is dead. I would be in panels and people would say, ‘there probably won’t be print books in 10 years.’ [...] But I think they’re pretty durable—in sort of worst case scenario, I can see them being kind of like vinyl or something, but there’s still vinyl, and there’s certain small communities that really have a relationship to it. [Books will] be around, but I think like any industry, there’ll be a lot of change.”

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