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In an increasingly corporatized book industry, Small Press Distribution (SPD) brings readers independently published literature, emphasizing small press values--equity, experimentation and access. We connect underrepresented literary communities to the marketplace and to each other via book distribution, events, and public advocacy. Prioritizing artistic and activist visions, SPD’s nearly 400 presses publish a full diversity of writers who rely on us to reach readers nationwide.
What It Means to Buy Books from SPD
When you buy a book from Small Press Distribution, you don't just get something terrific to read: you help independent publishers and writers keep more money from their projects, which in turn helps nurture and sustain the literary arts as a wholeyou join us in achieving our mission.
What We Do
Everything we do is aimed at helping essential but underrepresented literary communities participate fully in the marketplace and in the culture at large. We do this by offering book distribution, information services, and public advocacy programs to hundreds of small literary publishers.
Small Press Distribution, better known as SPD, has for five decades connected 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, Laura Moriarty and Jeffrey Lependorf. Brent Cunningham has served as SPD's Executive Director since 2020. SPD is the nation's only exclusively literary nonprofit book distributor, serving nearly 400 small independent literary publishers.
SPD books and authors have garnered numerous awards. Some notable recent winners 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, and develops digital content to reach those same communities nationally and internationally.
By the Numbers
In 2019 books sales topped 2.5 million dollars. SPD sold over 250,000 books in the period.
In 2019 SPD's customer base was comprised of 35% wholesalers and jobbers, 25% online booksellers, 17% independent bookstores, 8% university and college bookstores, 5% direct to individuals, 2% direct to libraries, 1% to chain stores, and 7% other (mostly foreign sales).
SPD's bestsellers represent a diverse cross-section of the literary world. Looking at a recent list of top 100 bestselling books we find that 60% were by people of color, 35% were by LGBTQIA+ authors, 75% were by women-identified authors, and 25% were by authors from outside the US.
Diversity, inclusion, and a safe working environment for all represent core SPD values. Toward demonstrating our commitment to ensuring that all corners of the literary community are as safe as possible, we are proud to be partnering with VIDA in promoting the SaferLIT pledge.
For more on SPD's history, as well as a list of bestselling titles, click here.
Small Press Distribution
1341 Seventh Street
Berkeley, CA 94710-1409
December 18, 2020
An update on the future of SPD from Alan Bernheimer, on behalf of SPD’s board of directors
Alan Bernheimer (Board President), Communications Executive, Ret.
Cecil S. Giscombe (Board Vice President), University of California, Berkeley / Mixed Blood Journal
Jonathan Fernandez (Board Treasurer), Rasputin Records / Blondies Pizza / Bear Basics
Laura Moriarty (Board Secretary)
Juliana Spahr, Mills College / A'A Arts Press
David Rothenberg, Nolo Press, Mother Jones, Morgan Kaufmann, Mix Magazine
Rena Rosenwasser, Kelsey Street Press
Michael Morgan, Morgan & Claypool Publishers
Ethan Nosowsky, Graywolf Press
Roberto Bedoya, Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland
Tonya Foster, California College of the Arts, The African American Review, Fence Magazine
Lorraine Lupo, Poet/Publisher
Jerrold Shiroma, UC Merced Library / duration press
Brent Cunningham, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Pai, Finance Director, email@example.com
Jane Gregory, Managing Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Janice Worthen, Data Manager, email@example.com
Johnny Hernandez, Customer Service Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Liam Curley, Warehouse Manager, email@example.com
Shawn El, Shipping Associate, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hilary Worthen, Data Associate
Anthony Sebastian, Warehouse Associate
Franny Weed, Marketing Associate
Nora Treatbaby, Warehouse Associate
Huwayda A. Cox, Administrative Associate
Public Financial Information
*SPD’s independent financial audit for Fiscal Year 2020 has been delayed due to COVID-19 and will be released publicly once available in Q1 2021
Articles, Media and PR
SPD on Twitter
SPD on Instagram
SPD on Tumblr
SPD on Facebook
SPD on Wikipedia
SPD Staff Picks
SF Chron: Facing Down a Pandemic, Small Bay Area Presses Aim to Diversity Publishing, August 5, 2020
Bowdoin: Funded Intern Franny Weed '21 Explores World of Alternative Publishing, July, 2020
PW: 2020 Amazon Literary Partnership Grant Recipients Announced, May 27, 2020
KQED: With Bookstores Closed, a 50-Year-Old Independent Book Distributor Perseveres, May 6, 2020
Aunt Lute: Checking in with our book distributor: Covid-19, May 11, 2020
Fence Portal: 27 Essays I'm Not Writing About Elizabeth Koch, May, 2020
Berkeleyside: City Gives $1.7M in Emergency Grants to Small Business, Arts Groups, April 28, 2020
The Rumpus: Keep Small Press Distribution Alive, April 22, 2020
PW on Publishers and Literary Orgs raising funds after Covid-19, April 21, 2020
SPD Awarded "Groundbreaker Award" at 38th Nor Cal Book Awards, June 23, 2019
PW Article on Effect of NEA Cuts on SPD by Jason Boog, March 16, 2017
Rumpus Article on NEA and SPD Funding History by Ops Director Brent Cunningham, Jan 26, 2017
PW Article on SPD's National Book Award winner Joe Pan/Brooklyn Arts, Dec 9, 2016
"Real Pants" Interview with Operations Director Brent Cunningham, July 15, 2015
The How The Why Podcast w/ Operations Director Brent Cunningham, January 18, 2015
SPD and the East Bay Poetry Scene in the East Bay Express, July 30, 2014
SPD in Publishers Weekly, April 13, 2012
"Bee-In" 2011 Fundraiser Profiled on SF Weekly, May 17, 2011
Click Here for More Articles
Friends of SPD
You Can Help Keep Literature Independent! Become a Friend of SPD.
SPD is the only wholesaler in the country dedicated exclusively to independently published literature. We take risks on exciting new writers, enabling their work to develop an audience and gain recognition in the marketplace.
To become a Friend of SPD, click here, choose your membership level and pay with your Visa or Mastercard during checkout. Membership is good for one year.
Thank you to our 2019/2020 Friends and Funders of SPD