If our coverage of the AMS bankruptcy of late borders on the skeptical, it may be because we can’t help but be reminded of one scenario in particular: if Perseus does indeed end up the sole distributor of all 150-odd clients of the entity now called Publishers Group West, then Perseus would become the distributor for nearly 300 publishers. “Independent distribution is a tremendously competitive field, with many well-funded conglomerates,” David Steinberger, the company’s CEO, told the Associated Press yesterday. “Our mission is to be the preferred platform.”
Preferred is one thing, but at what price? And is being the only distribution game in town for hundreds of independent publishers a good way to do business, or will the anti-trust dogs have to be called in? Then again, let’s also remember that any deal, no matter how enticing it may seem on the surface, still has to be approved by the Delaware bankruptcy court overseeing the AMS case. And if Christopher Sontchi decides not to give his okay, then it’s back to square one for a great many publishers. Point being, no matter what happens, the news will never be entirely good – it’s really a choice between the lesser of several unsatisfactory options.
But until the deal is approved – or not – we’re left with a lot of tentative possibilities. Avalon is definitely going to Perseus, and Grove/Atlantic is pretty well on its way, too. PW Daily reported yesterday that if the court approves the proposal, PGW will continue to provide distribution services for publishers before ultimately transferring their books and operations to Perseus’s distribution facility in Jackson, Tenn. It is unclear what the long-term role for PGW staff will be in the Perseus operation. And sources also told both PW Daily and Shelf Awareness that Levy Home Entertainment, whose main business is supplying mass market outlets with books, is still working on a bid to acquire AMS’s warehouse club business. That’s because they have opened an office in San Diego and hired on several former AMS staffers, though neither AMS nor Levy confirmed the reports directly to either publication.