Publishers & Distributors Respond to Kable Distribution’s Demise
“As of right now, all that we know is that Kable Distribution is done,” a Kable employee told me yesterday. “We don’t know how long we’ll be here, or how long it will take to move our accounts. We don’t know how things will wind up, or where we’ll go or what we’ll do. This happened overnight, and we’re as blindsided as everybody.”
She was referring to the fact that, based on TNG’s refusal to continue to do business with the company, Kable Distribution Services (KDS) informed its client publishers that it could no longer distribute their magazines. This move was reportedly made as a result of the decision made by Hudson Retail to purchase from KDS’ sister division, Kable Packaging and Fulfillment (KPF), rather than TNG. Kable clients were encouraged to move their business to Comag, a company that, interestingly, is largely owned by The Pattison Group, TNG’s parent company.
“Our brokerages are going to go up, no matter which national distributor we move to,” a publisher told me. “Payment is going to be delayed, and I am concerned about when or if I will be paid in full. And I don’t see it as good for publishers when the number of major U.S.-based national distributors drops from four to three.”
With eerily little appearing in any trade publication about this seismic event, it’s a comfort that my phone has been ringing with people wanting to discuss it and share their experiences. And one of the most commonly voiced opinions is: there must be more to this than meets the eye.
“It seems random to put KPF’s sister division out of business when the decisions were made by Hudson Retail,” an industry executive remarked. “For example, if KPF is looking to set up as a national direct distributor to compete with Ingram, as their ongoing negotiations with Genera (Comag’s back-end service provider) might indicate, that could threaten the very existence of our entire distribution system.”
There are reportedly several major publishers that refuse to move their Hudson Retail distribution to KPF. “Hudson Retail isn’t going to have much of a magazine presence if the big ones pull out,” a long-time industry observer commented. “This could have a lot of consequences if other publishers refuse to make the move as well.”
However, many publishers with airport distribution feel this decision has little to do with them. “No one asked any of us,” a multi-title publisher told me emphatically. “We were not part of any negotiations. The national distributors need to do a better job of managing their sub-contractors.”
Whatever the intricacies of the corporate relationships involved, the consequences play out on a very human scale. “I feel as if they put our heads on pikes and ran screaming through the village,” a Kable employee said. “And I feel that the loss of Kable is going to be a loss to this industry. We tried to cater to the smaller publishers. We tried to speak for the ones who had no one else to speak for them.”
Related story: Kable Distribution Services: Another Industry Goodbye
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.