Small Press Distribution
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Small Press Distribution (SPD) is a non-profit literary arts organization located in Berkeley, California. As their name indicates, the core of their mission is to act as an umbrella distributor and marketer for hundreds of smaller literary publishers. SPD's primary mission is to get the books of their publishers out to bookstores, libraries, book wholesalers, and directly to readers and writers.
SPD was founded in 1969 by Peter Howard of Serendipity Books and Jack Shoemaker of Sand Dollar Press. The fledgling organization provided small-scale distribution services for only five publishers. Initially called Serendipity Books Distribution, it was renamed Small Press Distribution by the late 1970s. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the organization periodically assembled the new titles of their publishers into printed catalogs, thus providing a vital link to underground literature for writers and readers around the US.
By 1980, SPD was distributing the books of about 40 small publishers; by 1990, the number had grown to 330. Today, SPD distributes books for approximately 400 publishers, each of whom produces anywhere from one to twenty books a year.
SPD became an official 501c3 non-profit in 1996. Since that time, its sales and staff have grown despite the demise of many independent bookstores that previously operated as its most consistent customer base.
Given the nature of commercial publishing and for-profit book distribution, a case can be made that SPD has played a vital role in keeping grassroots, noncommercial poetry and fiction continuously available in the U.S. to new generations of readers over the last three decades.