If you've strolled through a library recently, you likely saw a lot of Baker & Taylor (B&T) without knowing it. The #1 supplier of paper and digital books to libraries, B&T primarily serves two types of markets. Its core business distributes books, videos, and music, and provides value-added services to thousands of school, public, and specialty libraries worldwide. The firm's retail unit supplies storefront and online book and music retailers, as well as independent booksellers, with a million book titles and about 385,000 DVD and CD titles. On the Internet (where it formerly operated as Informata.com), B&T offers B2B e-commerce fulfillment services. B&T is owned by investment firm Castle Harlan.
Along with everyone else connected to the book and music businesses, the growing demand for digital media is taking B&T in new directions. The company is focused on providing the latest in digital media delivery and technology to its library and retail customers. To that end, it has partnered with K-NFB Reading Technology to offer its Blio e-reader software. A new deal with chipmaker Intel to power its Ultrabook computers with Blio software, launches in 2012. Previously, B&T's TextStream Digital Printing Service unit formed a partnership with Author Solutions, a leader in the self-publishing business, to print and fulfill orders of more than 125,000 titles. TextStream provides print-on-demand services to the academic and other markets. It recently signed deals with three major university presses, including Penn State Press. In addition to developing its digital business, B&T has also been focusing on its more profitable library and education business, and trimming its exposure to the ailing book and home entertainment retail markets.
In late 2009 the firm acquired the North American arm of Blackwell UK -- Blackwell Book Services North America (BNA) -- and Blackwell's Australia-based James Bennett bookseller. As part of the deal, Blackwell UK acquired B&T's Lindsay and Croft business in Britain. B&T combined BNA with its US-based YBP Library Services unit, which offers acquisition and collection management support services to libraries worldwide. B&T and Blackwell UK also formed a reciprocal joint sourcing agreement under which YBP sources all UK-published academic material from Blackwell and Blackwell sources US-published material from YBP.
In the retail market, B&T's fulfillment customers include companies such as Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Its retail arm also handles the company's international operations. B&T offers automatic shipping of books by popular authors (mailed as soon as they are published), and its J.A. Majors Company subsidiary is a major supplier of medical books to the educational and professional health markets. – less