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More About SPD: History & Bestsellers

Small Press Distribution, better known as SPD, has for five decades been connecting readers with writers by providing dynamic access to independently published literature-getting small press books out into the world so that essential but underrepresented literary communities can fully participate in the marketplace. For numerous small presses, SPD has long provided the only reliable and available access to the U.S. book market.

SPD was founded in 1969 by legendary Bay Area independent bookseller Peter Howard (Serendipity Books) and legendary Bay Area bookseller/publisher/editor Jack Shoemaker (Unicorn, Sand Dollar, North Point, Pantheon/Knopf, Counterpoint), starting with just eight small presses. Jeanetta Jones steered the organization from 1974 into the 1980s, followed by leaders like Jean Day, Lisa Domitrovich, Steve Dickison, Heather Peeler, Donald Knaub, Beverly Green and Laura Moriarty. Jeffrey Lependorf has served as SPD's Executive Director since 2005. SPD is the nation's only exclusively literary nonprofit book distributor, serving more than 400 small independent literary publishers.

SPD books and authors have garnered numerous awards. In the last few years alone these include the Pulitzer in Poetry for Tyehimba Jess's Olio (Wave Books), the National Book Award in Poetry for Daniel Borzutzky's The Performance of Being Human (Brooklyn Arts Press), Lambda Awards for Ching-In Chen's transgender poetry book recombinant (Kelsey Street Press) and Best LGBTQ Anthology ¡Cuéntamelo! (Aunt Lute Books), among many others. While the distribution of print book publishers remains at the heart of its mission, SPD also presents events and workshops in the Bay Area through collaborations with other arts and activist communities, as well as develops digital content to reach those same communities nationally and internationally. 

By The Numbers

In 2018 books sales topped 2.5 million dollars. SPD sold over 225,000 books in the period.

SPD's bestsellers represent a diverse cross-section of the literary world. Looking at the top 100 bestselling books from 2018 we find that 60% were by people of color, 35% were by LGBTQ authors, 75% were by women-identified authors, and 25% were by authors from outside the US.

In 2018 SPD's customer base was comprised of 35% wholesalers and jobbers, 22% online booksellers, 17% independent bookstores, 7% university and college bookstores, 5% direct to individuals, 4% direct to libraries, 2% to chain stores, and 8% other (mostly foreign sales).

2018's Top 10 Titles:

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