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The Rise and Not-Quite Fall of the American Book Wholesaler


  • Laura Miller


This article uses historical and interview data to examine the transformation of the wholesale sector in the American book industry. In contrast to the dominant pattern in other consumer goods industries, book wholesalers went from being relatively marginal in much of the 19th and 20th centuries to being central to book distribution and marketing in the 1970s. The increased clout of the wholesale sector in those years paralleled the growth of small presses on the one hand, and giant bookstore chains on the other. Since the 1990s, there has been consolidation as a considerable number of distributors have gone out of business. This has implications for the diversity of books available in the retail book market. It has also encouraged wholesalers to take on more of the traditional functions of publishers and retailers.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura Miller, 2003. "The Rise and Not-Quite Fall of the American Book Wholesaler," Journal of Media Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 97-120.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jmedec:v:16:y:2003:i:2:p:97-120
    DOI: 10.1207/S15327736ME1602_3

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