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Two hundred seventy-three thousand square feet. Nearly twelve million books in inventory. More than fifty thousand active ISBNs. More than nineteen thousand units shipped daily. Welcome to the Chicago Distribution Center.

CDC receives, picks, packs, and ships orders for the University of Chicago Press's Books and Journals Divisions. What really makes its services impressive, however, is that it also functions as the hub for more than 120 scholarly publishers. Since 1991, CDC has provided many of the world's finest academic publishers with state-of-the-art fulfillment, customer service, collection, and reporting.

Comprehensive, professional, up-to-date, and flexible, CDC offers its client publishers the following services:

  • Warehousing and receiving
  • Order entry and customer service
  • Picking, packing, billing, and shipping
  • Title Management
  • Eloquence data feeds to customers
  • Special services
  • Credit and collection
  • Inventory management
  • Electronic order processing (EDI, Pubnet, and Easylink)
  • 800 number for orders
  • Web shopping cart
  • Order consolidation across distributed clients
  • Sales, royalty, and inventory reporting
  • Digital printing center located in the warehouse 
  • Repository for digital book files (BiblioVault)

If you are a publisher interested in becoming a CDC client, please fill out this Publisher Profile.


History of Chicago Distribution Center

The Chicago Distribution Center was founded in 1966 to serve the needs of the University of Chicago Press Book and Journal Divisions in warehousing and distributing their publications. In 1991, CDC began offering its comprehensive services—warehousing, customer service, business services, order fulfillment, returns management, collection, and all attendant information technology—to other university presses. The University of Tennessee Press was the first CDC client. Today, the Chicago Distribution Center serves more than 120 publishers.

BiblioVault—Digital Asset Management

Any university press may use the services of the BiblioVault, a repository and file services department for digital book files that is a unit of the University of Chicago Press. The files that are printed at the CDC digital printing center are maintained at the BiblioVault and automatically downloaded to the digital printing center when CPUB triggers a print run.

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Credit and Collections

Each CDC customer has an accounts receivable across all CDC client presses. CDC blocks an account for shipping additional orders if the customer has invoices that are past due by 90 days or longer. The impact of not receiving books from all CDC presses increases our leverage and enables us to keep accounts receivable current. Statements are issued monthly. CPUB ages receivables nightly. Accounts Receivable produces a new list of customers to contact on each aging period.

Customer Service/Order Entry

CDC’s customer service staff includes two managers and eight customer service representatives. Improvements in communications systems and information technology, as well as strong management, have enabled the CDC to maintain stable staffing as activity has grown. When calls are at peak, both managers handle calls.

Digital Printing

CDC client presses may use the digital printing center within the CDC warehouse and all related digital file storage and information systems in order to keep slow-selling titles in print, to provide units when a title runs out of stock unexpectedly, and to test the demand for titles that are being issued in paperback. More than 5,000 paperback titles are currently produced in this system. The digital printing center is connected to the CPUB fulfillment system; a printing is triggered when an order puts a title in the program out of stock. A preset number of units (as few as two up three hundred) are printed with the needed units shipping with the order and the rest put in inventory. Once a print order is completed and posted into inventory, the client press is automatically notified via e-mail.

E-Content Sales

To further assist client presses in their e-book initiatives, the CDC has entered umbrella sales agreements with Amazon Kindle, Sony e-Reader, Barnes and Noble Nook, Chegg, and Kobo that offer favorable sales terms to CDC clients who sign the necessary contract addendums, with BiblioVault being the sole source of file and metadata deliveries.

Electronic Order Fulfillment

E-book files stored in the BiblioVault are delivered with their TMM metadata to an extensive list of electronic vendors or can be sold directly from the Press’s own website with BiblioVault fulfilling the electronic delivery upon completion of the e-book purchase. Automated delivery of electronic review copies is also supported through the BiblioVault website.

IT Services

CDC’s IT staff works with client presses to develop new and useful reports that bring value to all CDC publisher clients. These reports are made available through the password-protected Web site. Reports that may be valuable to all clients are created and posted to the Web for all to use.

Online Shopping Cart

The CDC PCI-compliant shopping cart is linked to a client press’s website so that consumers can order its print and digital publications easily. These web orders are electronically processed, and picking tickets for print products are generated twice daily. Orders for electronic products are fulfilled by BiblioVault.

Returns Processing

Returns uses information technology to work efficiently with the book trade and to make sure that no more credits are given than are deserved. If we find a discrepancy in a return, we call the customer. The CDC’s magnitude of interaction with the book trade gives us greater bargaining power with wholesalers and retailers.


CDC provides training and on-going support to client press personnel in using this increasingly sophisticated system.

Title Management and Onix Feed

CDC provides client presses with access to a Web-based version of Quality Solution’s Title Management database system as part of its basic service fee. Presses use this system to provide a wide variety of information about their titles to CDC and to the book trade. CDC feeds this updated information to the trade via Eloquence each week.

Warehousing and Fulfillment

The warehouse has six picking zones. Picking tickets are scanned in each zone and scanned out when completed. The books are also scanned as they are packed into boxes for shipping. When packing of an order is complete, the information system notifies the packer if he/she has included a wrong book or is short any units for the order. The system produces a shipping label and assigns a tracking number to each carton.