Follett, a distributor of educational materials for K-12 and higher-ed institutions, has acquired one of the biggest names in the media distribution business: Baker & Taylor. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Dating back to 1828, Baker & Taylor works with over 25,000 suppliers to distribute print and digital books, videos to more than 20,000 customers across 120 countries. One of its primary markets is public libraries across the world. The company counts the systems in New York and Los Angeles among its customers.
“Follett is in the K-12 space, and Baker & Taylor is the biggest distributor of content in the library space.” Nader Qaimari, President of Follet School Solutions, tells EdSurge in an interview. “For us it made strategic sense to help public libraries and school libraries both figure out how to change to improve education.”
Follett currently works with more than 6,000 publishers—and “there’s 100 percent overlap” with the K-12 publishers that Baker & Taylor works with, Qaimari adds. Both companies have also developed tools to help librarians order, manage and share digital resources.
Baker & Taylor’s distribution network also extends overseas, where it generates a sizable amount of sales revenues. This presents Follett, which operates mostly in North America, with a ripe opportunity for growth. According to The Chicago Tribune, the deal could boost Follett’s annual sales by as much as 40 percent—from $2.6 billion to $3.6 billion. Combined, the two companies will employ more than 10,000 people.
Qaimari says Baker & Taylor will continue operating as usual, with no immediate plans for merging or slashing resources.