Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 30, 2018

Farewell to Dennis Jones and Associates… but the show goes on.

Earlier this month there was horrible news about the demise of Melbourne book distributor, Dennis Jones and Associates, which has gone into voluntary liquidation.  Eagle-eyed readers will have seen Dennis’s occasional contributions to comments on this blog, and may have noticed his assistance to me in identifying Indigenous authors who I otherwise wouldn’t have known about, for feature during Indigenous Literature Week.  I’m putting it on record here that he was a great help to me and to the authors and publishers who got publicity here because of his interventions.

Now, as my readers know, I am just a book reviewer, with no formal connections to the Australian publishing industry.  Some of them send me books for review, and I’ve met a couple of publishers here and there, but I had no idea and (until now) not much interest in the details of how the industry works as long as there are plenty of beaut books to read.  However, as this article at the SMH explains, and a subsequent email from the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) confirmed, the demise of Dennis Jones and Associates is going to affect those of us who love to read Australian books, especially since it’s the small publishers who are most affected, and they’re the ones who publish the most interesting and innovative books.

So I was pleased to receive a press release today from Louis de Vries about how Melbourne’s Hybrid Press is weathering the storm.  I love Hybrid’s books: there are twenty-one of them reviewed on this site, I have two more on the TBR, and I happen to know that there is one coming out soon which I am very much looking forward to reading.  I have permission from Louis to quote slavishly from his press release, which amongst other things explains what it is that book distributors do, and why it matters so much:

As some of you know, after an association of almost two decades, our distributor Dennis Jones & Associates recently went into voluntary liquidation – a fresh sign, if that were needed, of how challenging and commercially hazardous the publishing business has become. (Over the past decade, numerous publishers, booksellers, and distributors have gone out of business because they were no longer viable.)

We at Hybrid Publishers were affected in a number of ways, the most obvious being that temporarily we had no representation and distribution to booksellers. Also, our ebooks and print-on-demand titles – which had also been distributed by Dennis Jones & Associates – were immediately removed from sale.

Anna [Anna Rosner Blay, Managing Editor] and Louis had to make a quick decision. Should we walk away from a business that had been bringing out books for more than twenty years, or would we establish new business associations and keep doing what we love doing?

It wasn’t an easy decision. For those who don’t know what book distributors do, here’s a quick outline of the process. After the author has written the manuscript and been accepted by a publisher, the publisher organises editing, proofreading, cover design, typesetting, printing, marketing, and administration before sending the printed books to the distributor. The distributor stores the books in one or more warehouses, prepares a catalogue for the trade, sends representatives to bookshops around the country (as well as digital communications), receives orders, sends out orders, administers those dreaded returns, and much more. Without a distributor, most publishers might as well close up shop.

There have indeed been modern developments such as print on demand, where books are only printed and sent to booksellers in response to actual orders (so no warehousing is necessary), and ebooks, which require no physical warehousing either.

While we happily use modern technologies, we were not ready to call it a day on traditional publishing. We still delight in physically handling books. Ebooks are great for vacation and travel reading – and we all know people who prefer to ready everything on their phones – but we believe there is still a market for printed books.

We are delighted to announce that after whirlwind negotiations, we have signed up with the highly regarded New Holland Publishers for our future distribution throughout Australia and New Zealand. MD Fiona Schultz showed herself to be “on the same page” in publishing philosophies and values as Hybrid, and we look forward to a fruitful and mutually satisfactory association.

Our ebooks are expected to be available again within a week. Management of ebooks will be with Andrew Farrell’s company Ebook Alchemy. We have long been associated with Andrew, and are confident he will enhance our ebook offerings.

There have been significant disruptions, and there will be challenges ahead. The new distributor will not have warehouse space for all quantities of older titles. Also, some of our stocks have most regrettably gone missing in the old distributor’s warehouse. So there will be changes ahead.

However, Anna and Louis have made their call, and look forward to continuing to publish quality books for the years to come.

Louise de Vries, Director at Hybrid Press 30/8/18

As ‘Ambassador for Australian Literature’ I’m relieved to hear this news, but – scan the list of Australian publishers in the Categories in the RHS menu and once you eliminate the conglomerates, you will see just how many small publishers are potentially affected by this situation.  Our lively and distinctive industry has been dealt a huge blow and it remains to be seen how it will all pan out.

PS Individual authors who are affected should contact the ASA who have been brilliant in rescuing stock and other initiatives.  Another reason to belong to the ASA!


  1. So pleased that Anna and Louis have found a way through. They clearly love what they do and they are good at it so it is wonderful to know they are moving ahead and weathering the storm.


  2. Anna from Hybrid Publishers here – we’re in the process of having stocks of books transferred to the Sydney warehouse and doing all the paper work, so our titles should be safe. A big job, as you can imagine! But we’re optimistic about our new relationship with New Holland and look forward to bringing out many more great books!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is very good news, Anna, I can’t imagine your workload, but I wish you all the best:)


  3. Great post Lisa. I have just had an email from Louis de Vries and responded personally to him. I wondered about doing a post but you’ve covered it beautifully, and I’m behind!! (Of course.) Such a tough business.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed. I think there’s probably news about how the other publishers are getting on at Bookseller and Publisher but their site is paywalled for members only. Which is fair enough, but the public wants to know too.


      • Yes, it’s something journalists could write up for the main media I think.


  4. Great, informative post Lisa, thank you.


  5. Hit send before I was supposed to! Was going to say that while you say you’re ‘just a blogger’, I do think blogs are quite important in the promotion of books.


    • Actually, I think we’re vital, and I get quite tired of people who think that the only reviews that count are the ones in the print media that nobody reads any more…
      But that doesn’t alter the fact that I (like most of the other bloggers I know) am outside the publishing industry and don’t know much about the practicalities of how it works. I certainly didn’t know about what distributors actually do until I read it in Louis’s email, just as I don’t have any real idea how a packet of cornflakes ends up on a supermarket shelf…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the small presses and self-published authors who have been affected by DJA’s collapse. Anna and Louis are brave and dedicated publishers, and I’m hoping Hybrid’s reach might even be extended with this new arrangement. I’ve been impressed, too, by the ASA’s commitment to its members. Fingers crossed the other small publishers will pull through somehow. Thanks for bringing this sad business to the attention of your readers, Lisa.


    • Yes, there’s been some back-breaking lugging about of books this week and no doubt there are unsung heroes who’ve been doing it…
      I hope some of the other small publishers will get in touch and let us know how they are getting on.


  7. Oh goodness – fingers crossed that the small publishers can weather this storm!


    • And I suppose it brings to light that this could happen anywhere round the world. Distributors are the unsung heroes of the industry, but although the focus has been on the threat to publishers from The Big Behemoth, distributors are vulnerable too,

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It came as a shock to everyone. Small publishers will be very destabilised and even more so, self-published authors. I agree with Diana that ASA has been very proactive. The Sweet Hills Of Florence is published by Hybrid Publishers, and I agree with Louis & Anna that although a set-back, it offers a new opportunity for distribution with New Holland.


    • Yes, The Sweet Hills of Florence was one of the first books I thought of, because it’s a recent release. Fingers crossed!


  9. Congratulstions for continuing to wave the flag for the small publishers on your wonderfully, informative blog🤠🐧.


    • What would we read without them? My shelves would be mostly empty without the small publishers whose work I love:)

      Liked by 1 person

      • So true. I can search library by publishers names and that makes it fun to explore what is locally available.


  10. Sad news! But glad to know that someone has stepped up to help out small publishers. We need more of them. Thanks so much for sharing, Lisa.


  11. I’m a new Kid. Dennis Jones closed up a few weeks after receiving 10 POD of my first Novel, (Via them). James WD.


    • Oh no, that must have been a shock … have you been able to retrieve them?


  12. Bummer for Dennis Jones and Associates. They looked after my one and only book which has been selected to have a movie made out of by an English film company. I loved the company. Bummer and bummer again.


    • Yes, it’s very disappointing, and he will be sorely missed.
      I hope your book goes well as a film:)


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