Why is it that judges and courts think that distributors own the books of their publishing clients? It just doesn't make sense. Now it seems that even with a contract stating that the books remain the property of the publishers, the AMS bankruptcy is resulting in AMS and Wells Fargo making a claim on the books stored in Publishers Group West's warehouse.
So, the publishers -- who will already lose much or all of the proceeds from holiday book sales made via bookstores -- might now also lose their entire remaining inventory to the sordid hands of banks and creditors.
Now, I love banks and have a Wells Fargo credit card. But, if they go through with this forced sale of publishers's books, I will no longer do business with Wells Fargo. And I will call them scum-suckers, to boot.
Many of the publishers with PGW are good friends of mine and incredible publishers. I would hate to see them brought down by the incompetence and malfeasance of the AMS leadership -- which has nothing to do with the competence and capabilities of the PGW leadership and the incredible publishers who have been long-time clients of PGW.
I've been caught in a distributor bankruptcy myself -- and lost about $10,000 in receiveables and some inventory. I knew it was coming, however, and protected myself by switching distribution companies before the bankruptcy actually occurred. So I simply never got paid for my remaining receiveables (which I had already limited).
Personally, as a publisher, I would have left PGW ten months ago. AMS has been having a series of business issues over the past few years and, even for a perpetual optimist like myself, I couldn't see them making their way out of it, as much as I had hoped they would. Perhaps I should have questioned my friends more closely much sooner.
What you should do if you have a distributor is to begin asking the tough questions, especially if payments start getting slower or other questions start popping up. It takes quite a great businessperson or persons to make a success of any distribution business. To my mind, it's not an easy business model, so I admire the people who carry out such a business successfully -- including the original owners and executives of PGW.