Down the Drain

Chalk up another Bay Area victim from the demise of the Independent Press Association, the San Francisco-based nonprofit that once was a guardian angel to small, independent magazine publishers, and that abruptly closed its doors last month.

Kitchen Sink, which tracks alternative culture and serves up hip, irreverent social commentary, will cease to exist after its spring issue, having run out of money after IPA failed to make good on distribution payments, the publisher says.

"We were hand-to-mouth as it was, and this was an obstacle that I'm afraid we couldn't overcome," says Carla Acosta. The Oakland-based publication, which billed itself as "the magazine for people who think too much," had won accolades since its debut in 2002, including a nod from Utne Readeras best new title.

Sinkis the third publication attached to IPA's distribution arm to bite the dust in recent weeks. Clamor (whose editor, Jen Angel, was based in San Francisco) and Oakland-based LiP — both of which probed cutting-edge cultural topics — folded late last year.

"I doubt these will be the last [of the IPA-distributed magazines to shut down]," says Jeremy Adam Smith, a former IPA interim director, who blames the organization for putting many of its 400 former clients in a bind by failing to honor its commitments. "Survival is never easy for small, independent magazines, and the last thing they needed was for their distributor to let them down."

Staffers at IPA's Battery Street offices packed up their belongings shortly after Christmas. A post on its Web site says the organization ceased to exist and filed to liquidate its assets on Dec. 27. (The post referred inquiries to a fiduciary, who did not return phone calls for this article.)

As reported by SF Weekly (in "Pulp Friction" by Ryan Blitstein, June 14, 2006), IPA began having serious problems in 2005. Early last year, it acknowledged owing $500,000 to constituents. Although mostly small indie pubs, they also included a few large ones, including Ms. and Mother Jones. Some publishers complained that IPA executives never came clean with them, accusing its executives of cutting deals to buy silence and of pressuring two board members who asked tough questions to resign.

Acosta, Kitchen Sink's publisher, says that donations from readers will enable the quarterly to distribute its final two issues. "We'll miss it," she says of the magazine. "It isn't the way we envisioned it ending."

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