SPD: What the hell is going on? — Confrontations on Zoom now!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

I’ve written and talked to a couple of people who have books that were shipped to a warehouse recently far away from where the majority of the presses that were serviced by SPD (Small Press Distribution) have their editorial offices. As recently as the end of February, these publishers were informed by an announcement in Publishers Weekly that all was going to plan.


SPD to Roll Out New Services with Warehouse Transfer Completed
By Jim Milliot |
Feb 26, 2024

Furthermore, these publishers also received a letter dated March 4th that gave them assurances that all was well. Just a few days ago,, however, these publishers were informed that SPD was closing its doors and that no one should bother to contact the few employees who are still working there.

This is a crisis for those involved with small press publishing that is on a very, very, very minuscule level as devastating to this domain as the Savings and Loan debacle of 1987 was to the banking system. It’s not just a matter of money; it’s a gut-punch to one’s idealism by the very people who would claim to be its most fervent advocates. What I do not understand and what I find completely unacceptable is the refusal of those in charge of SPD to hold any public meetings at which they can be held accountable for the decision they unilaterally made. What is Zoom for if not to serve as a place where a flow-chart of decisions and screenshot documentation can be posted?

And where is the National Endowment for the Arts in all this? The NEA was to SPD what the Federal Reserve is to Wall Street. The centrality of the NEA was pointed out by the poet, Brent Cunningham, who was the Operations Manager of SPD for over 15 years, until a disgruntled faction managed to get him outsted. I would hazard to guess that one could probably trace the downhill slide of SPD to his termination, and whoever was involved with that change at SPD now needs to come forth and give a detailed accounting to all of us who stakeholders in the legacy of SPD.

You can find Brent Cunningham’s statesment here, from 2017, here:
What’s at Stake: The NEA and the Literary Ecosystem


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