Dennis Jones & Associates has been the go-between for small publishers and self-published authors and bookstores since its formation in late 1991. It ceased trading last week and voluntarily appointed a liquidator.
“It’s been pretty devastating for many,” said Juliet Rogers from the Australian Society of Authors, which is representing the interests of their members who are creditors as the liquidators arrange the orderly wind-up of the company.
“As I understand it from the liquidators there are 1300 creditors, most of whom will be tiny publishers and self-published individual authors.
“Dennis Jones was the only person willing to give them a go and although other players will pick up the best publisher lists, on the whole, the individual authors are going to suffer. It could also not have come at a worse time with Christmas just around the corner.”
Liquidator Steven Kugel of Insolvency Experts confirmed he was dealing with more than 1300 creditors, including one secured creditor and 15 employees, and around 500 debtors.
The role of the liquidator was to act for the benefit of all creditors including employees, secured and unsecured creditors, he said.
“In that regard, as liquidator, I will firstly deal with any assets of the company as well as obtaining books and records. Following that, I will undertake an investigation into the affairs of the company to determine the reasons for its failure … At this point, it will be decided if any dividend can be paid to creditors.”
Publishers that had placed books with the company for distribution were free to collect their stock, he said, as it is not considered a company asset.
Tim Coronel, general manager of the Small Press Network representing more than 120 small and independent book publishers, said many of its members had used Dennis Jones & Associates as their distributor for years.
“We were all shocked and saddened to hear that the company went into voluntary liquidation last week,” he said.
“Dennis and his team have always been passionate supporters of the small-press sector, working tirelessly to promote excellent books from small publishers and give them a chance at visibility and success in the mainstream.
“Many SPN member publishers will now have to find a new distributor. One positive that has already come from this unfortunate situation is the resilience and collegiality of the publishing community.
“Already half-a-dozen other distribution companies have offered to discuss the situation with affected SPN member publishers and we’re confident that many former clients of Dennis Jones will be able to make new distribution agreements soon.
“The transition period, however, will be challenging for these often very small businesses as they have a brief time-window to recover their stock from DJA and move it to new warehousing arrangements, with all the upheaval and expense that entails.”
Ms Rogers said she wasn’t sure of the reasons behind the collapse but “costs of the operation would have been high and the administration intensive”.
“I can only assume that it got to the stage where Dennis had no choice but to walk. He has had a long book trade career and it is not a decision he would have taken lightly.”