Probably because a week ago Sunday we got the sad and shocking news that Jim Harrison had died the day before, I failed to read the week's e-mailed “Shelf Awareness” newsletters carefully, and so I missed another piece of sad and shocking news: Partners Book Distributing – going out of business. April 1 their last day. Not an April Fool’s joke.
Book buyers not in the business themselves cannot possibly realize what a huge hole this punches in the Great Lakes bookselling world. It isn’t personal, you say? Oh, yes, it is. It’s very personal.
One a person and dear friend, the other a business, but, although never on an intimate basis, the people at that business were friends, too. Partners was the regional distributor of new books for the Great Lakes. They supported small presses and regional authors. Calling on the phone to put in an order at Partners was a pleasure. There were, literally, partners with authors and regional publishers and booksellers. And now they are gone? Just like that?
One writer friend who saw the news on Monday was still reeling when I called him, trying to take in my first knowledge of the closing. Another friend, a bookseller, hadn’t understood a message on her desk until I called to confer with her. I just can’t believe this. I guess that’s why I was calling other people – in hopes someone would tell me it isn’t true, after all.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said one Partners employee to me over the phone. “I love books. All I ever wanted to do was sell books.”
The times, they are a-changin’ – constantly. Over and over, the rug gets pulled out from under our feet.
It’s another death in the family.