April 9, 2019
The cause for publisher and bookseller panic in Germany
by Christina Cerio
Shelf Awareness shared a report by Anja Sieg of buchreport on the status of the massive German book wholesaler and distributor Koch, Neff and Volckmar (KNV). According to Sieg, KNV filed for bankruptcy in February, which has caused panic among publishers and bookstores in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Sieg explains that KNV provides services to approximately 5,600 bookstores and is a wholesaler and distributor for more than 300 publishers, so it seems to be an appropriate time to panic.
The bankruptcy lawyer, Tobias Wahl, however, is hopeful about the future of KNV. Wahl is taking on the ginormous task of finding a buyer for KNV. His goal is to find an investor that will keep the company whole and he hopes to keep operations running normally until a new buyer takes over.
KNV’s weak spot—and what many see as the root of its current problems—will undoubtedly also come under close scrutiny: the state-of-the-art logistic center that opened in Erfurt, in eastern Germany, in October 2014. Covering 170,000 square meters (about 1.83 million square feet) and costing €150 million (about $168.5 million), the warehouse was plagued by problems for a long time, although it now seems to be running smoothly.
Following her claim that business is running smoothly, Sieg shares that KNV’s longtime truck delivery service, Bücherwagendienst, has canceled its delivery service. After reading this, I lost all hope for the future of the company, which prides itself in delivering to bookstores by 9 AM if the order was placed before 6 PM the day before. However, Seig added that a replacement delivery service is scheduled to start May 1. What a relief.
Stay tuned for news on the investor that will save KNV and the many publishers and bookstores that depend on their services.
Christina Cerio is the Manager of Direct Sales & Special Projects at Melville House.