Today in AMS: Who Will Win the NBN/Perseus Turf War?

By Carmen Comment

When the National Book Network entered the AMS/PGW bankruptcy sweepstakes, we had a feeling things were going to get contentious, and fast. And so it has come to pass, as PW Daily reports that things are heating up with the February 12 court date for judge Christopher Sontchi to rule on the competing offers looms ever closer. To wit: both Perseus (which is claiming a small victory in that it has now received more than the 65% response rate from PGW publishers necessary to bring the offer before the court) and NBN have sent in revised proposals to the PGW Ad Hoc Steering Committee, and at the moment – according to Radio Free PGW – committee is recommending that all PGW publishers sign the NBN offer (after the distributor agreed to a number of the changes in the contract recommended by said committee) and fax it to NBN by Sunday.

But Perseus CEO David Steinberger cried foul on the late-coming NBN proposal, as Publishers Marketplace describes. “We want to know if their plan is real,” Steinberger said. “We suspect it is not. We would never ask a publisher to sign anything before we filed with the court and our plan was clear.” After threatening to go to court seeking “an order to make any signed agreements public,” Steinberger says, AMS “then sent us a document that’s an unsigned draft.” NBN attorneys and its president, Jed Lyons, shot back that documents were forthcoming “sometime today” and that there’s financing in play, but “we need to satisfy all of our due diligence, which hopefully can be done in the near future…. The goal is obviously before Monday.”

Some publishers, like Barrett-Koehler‘s Steven Piersanti, have not signed either offer. He is considering other options, including having BK handle its own distribution. And then there’s the question of what happens to the books of publishers who sign with neither distributor, an issue that Amber Allen is challenging directly. They have filed a motion stating that since it has been unable to reach an agreement with Perseus, it wants the court to rule that if the court approves the sale of certain PGW assets to Perseus, it will also rule that Pereus’s agreement with PGW has been rejected and that Amber has the right to take immediate possession of its books.