Today in AMS: PGW publisher options, legal issues

By Carmen Comment

As Advanced Marketing Services‘s Chapter 11 adventures continue (with the top 20 creditors slated to meet on January 12 to discuss what to do next) attention still rightfully swirls around the future of once-profitable Publishers Group West and the 150-odd independent publishers who are its clients. Last Friday, more than 70 publishers discussed their options in a conference call and expressed support for taking collective action to promote PGW publishers’ interests. As a result, there’s a movement afoot to create an Ad Hoc Committee of PGW Publishers which will petition the bankruptcy court to appoint a separate creditors committee composed of PGW publishers to represent their interests.

The must do so because, as Shelf Awareness reports, some of their worst fears were confirmed on Friday after legal consultations: Their books in PGW’s possession are considered on consignment and are the property of PGW. Reclamation rights are limited. In the same vein, it will be very difficult for publishers to get out of the contracts with PGW, which means that the last three months of earnings will remain in limbo for an indefinite period of time, with limited (if any) access to the funds.

No wonder a rogue blog called Radio PGW has popped up to provide some dark humor in dark times, signing off today’s flurry of posts with “from the killing fields of America’s publishing industry–good day and good luck.”

One publisher who may be in on the collective action is Cleis Press, and one of its most notable authors, Violet Blue, has her say about the bankruptcy fallout. “The effect this is about to have on the book culture is gruesome,” says Blue. “Imagine a Good Vibrations with only books from HarperCollins in it, or a world without Cleis Press.”

C.E. Petit at Scrivener’s Error provides a necessary legal perspective on the bankruptcy – and the news is not very good at all for small and mid-sized publishers. “Small and mid-sized publishers of fiction are…going to have some serious cashflow problems that will [hit them] twice: Once in delayed and diminished cashflow, and once more because their books simply won’t be sold until they change their distribution. And that’s going to go through to authors, too.”

And the ripple effects of AMS’s bankruptcy can be felt in Britain, as Quarto – which sold 2.3 million pounds worth of books to AMS – reported on potential difficulties. “Although it’s too early after the end of our financial year for us to update shareholders on 2006 results, we were anticipating that our results, before the exceptional item, would be substantially in line with our previous expectations,” said chief financial officer Michael Mousley.

Many more links about AMS are provided by Edward Champion, who’s covering the story in even more detail than we are.