• Sunday, February 05, 2023

106 Years Old Book Distributor to End Its Run in 2023

Publications, stationery, and calendars are all distributed by Thomas Allen & Son to bookshops, libraries, and other merchants. The majority of these books are published overseas.
on Dec 07, 2022
Distributor to End Its Run in 2023

One of Canada's oldest book distributor, Thomas Allen & Son, will shut down in a few months, becoming what the CEO of the business calls "another casualty of consolidation in the publishing sector."

Jim Allen claimed he was left with no choice but to shut down the 106-year-old company after a number of the publishers it collaborated with were purchased by bigger companies with the in-house distribution.

Allen, whose great-grandfather founded the distributor, said that it is just another indicator of the changes that have been taking place in the sector. "Over the years, several fairly large, independent, family-owned businesses that do what we do have vanished."

Publications, stationery, and calendars are all distributed by Thomas Allen & Son to bookshops, libraries, and other merchants. The majority of these books are published overseas.

However, a lot of smaller publishing firms that had agreements with book distributors like Allen's were bought out by bigger publishing houses that either handled distribution themselves or already had agreements with more significant, international distributors.

Plans for the closure, according to Allen, were made in 2021 after Workman Publishing was acquired by Hachette Book Group, whose books and calendars accounted for a sizeable portion of his company's yearly sales. Hachette manages its internal distribution in Canada.

"It was almost a given that it would happen. I had informally discussed the possibility of selling the company with a variety of people, "added he.

However, he said that the company's choices for sale were constrained because it is neither a publisher nor the owner of any intellectual property.

The best-case scenario for the shutdown, according to Allen, is to transfer distribution contracts to Firefly Books in Richmond Hill, Ontario, beginning at the end of March 2023.

Despite being primarily a publisher, Firefly has a small distribution division that will grow to accept these contracts, according to Allen.

Currently, Allen's office has around 10 employees, according to him, while the warehouse has 20. A contract with Firefly would be offered to roughly eight office employees, as well as some warehouse staff, he claimed.

Allen remarked on the choice to close, "It was not an easy decision." But given how difficult the market is becoming, I believe it to be the best course of action.

Since its establishment in 1916, Thomas Allen Ltd. has published works by Agatha Christie, William Lyon Mackenzie King, and Nellie McClung.

Three decades later, Forbes Duncan Allen, the founder's son, joined the business and expanded its distribution division.

Jim Allen is the fourth Allen to lead the business. In 2000, he relaunched Thomas Allen Publishers, which he later sold to Dundurn Press.

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