The B&T Story: "Slowest Payer in Publishing" Speeds Up

May 2005
by Jenny McCune

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“Slowest payer in publishing” is a nickname that publishers have often applied to Baker & Taylor, but thanks to the efforts of PMA, payments are speeding up.

Things came to a head toward the end of February. More and more PMA members were complaining to executive director Jan Nathan about payments from the largest distributor to libraries that were stretching from 90 days to 120 days to 180 days or even longer.

Worse than the delayed payments was the failure to respond when independent book publishers tried to follow up, according to many of those who communicated with PMA. “My biggest concern is not the late payments–not that I condone that–it is their lack of response to my communication,” explains David Marsh of Sea Chest Books.

Realizing how widespread the problem was, Jan Nathan personally complained to B&T’s top executives and suggested a remedy: a special PMA-members email address–IndPub@btol.com–with the promise of a reply within 48 hours.

The large backlog of overdue invoices that took months, if not years, to build up certainly can’t be dismantled in a couple of weeks. “I have had conversations with the B&T people, and I feel that they are trying to play catchup on payments but are encountering difficulties,” Jan says. But at least some PMA members have seen a thaw in the frozen payments since the email address became operational at the end of February.

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