H.B. Fenn book distributor eyes bankruptcy

Canada's largest book distributor, H.B. Fenn and Company Ltd., has signalled it is looking to restructure and has filed a notice of intention under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Canada's largest book distributor, H.B. Fenn and Company Ltd., has signalled it is looking to restructure and has filed a notice of intention under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

In a brief statement, the company said it has "encountered significant financial challenges due to the loss of distribution lines, shrinking margins and the significant shift to e-books, all of which have significantly reduced the company's revenues."

During the initial court process triggered by the notice, H.B. Fenn can continue to operate without interference from creditors. 

The company will have to provide a cash-flow statement and file a proposal to creditors within 30 days, unless an extension is granted by the courts.

Two years ago, H.B. Fenn lost its biggest client when Hachette Book Group decided to set up shop in Canada and distribute its own books and others.  

"This is international business that has upset the Canadian scene pretty substantially," Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, told CBC News Thursday afternoon.

Follows Key Porter decision

Founder and CEO Harold Fenn says his "heart goes out" to the company's more than 125 employees and the publishers it represents. 

Among them is Key Porter Books, which last month announced it was temporarily suspending publishing operations and exploring a "number of restructuring options."

Key Porter, which has represented authors including Margaret Atwood, Joan Barfoot, Conrad Black and Farley Mowat, has published about 100 titles per year and has over 500 books in print. 

Last September, Key Porter laid off almost two-thirds of its employees. In January, the company announced it was suspending publishing operations while it considered "a number of restructuring options."