The fallout from Borders Group Inc. 's decision to halt payments to some publishers began over the weekend, as a leading distributor said it would temporarily stop shipping books to the retail chain.

The chief executive of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc., which publishes its own titles and distributes books for several hundred publishers through its National Book Network, said in an interview the company was taking the step to look out for its clients.

"When a customer of that size calls you up and says you aren't getting a check, that's a piece of information you have to act on," said Jed Lyons, CEO of Rowman & Littlefield.

Mr. Lyons said he wanted more information from Borders and expected to learn more from the bookseller this week. "Up until now they'd been paying us like clockwork," he said.

Late last week, Borders announced that it was halting payments to some vendors as it attempts to refinance its debt. The retailer also noted that it couldn't guarantee that its refinancing efforts will be successful. The company earlier disclosed that without refinancing, it could violate its credit agreement in the first quarter and "experience a liquidity shortfall."

Mr. Lyons said that about a year ago, National Book Network approached its clients and said that if they wanted their books distributed to Borders, they would have to assume the risk associated with that business. Most clients, he added, responded by saying they wanted to continue shipping to Borders.

Top sellers distributed by National Book Network include Jeffrey Gitomer's "Little Red Book of Selling" published by Bard Press and Tosca Reno's "Eat-Clean Diet" series published by Robert Kennedy Publishing.

The decision by Borders to stop paying some publishers and vendors caught many in the book industry by surprise and capped the year on a dismal note. Until then, many in publishing were feeling upbeat about the holiday season.

Lagardère SCA's Hachette Book Group, one of the largest publishers in the U.S., said last week it would decide whether to ship new books to Borders shortly. A second publisher, Sourcebooks Inc., said it too was considering its options.

Another publishing executive, who asked not to be identified, said that Borders this week may ask the publishers and distributors who didn't receive payments last week to convert a portion of those payments to debt. Such a move might help Borders in its wider refinancing efforts.

Borders declined to comment.

Borders, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., operates 676 stores, including 507 superstores.

Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at