You might not know this, but we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.
All right, you probably do already know that – otherwise, I would like the address of the rock you’ve been living under, and I hope you’ve got space for a roommate.
What you may not know is that on top of the bad hand we’ve already been dealt with COVID-19, we’re also in the middle of a supply-chain crisis. Which sounds scary. And truthfully? It kind of is.
But what exactly is a “supply-chain crisis”?
Well, in the publishing industry it means: labour shortages, lumber shortages, transportation issues, and backlogs at printing companies (who are dealing with all of those aforementioned issues too.) This has a trickle-down effect that leads to printing and shipping delays and flat-out inabilities to meet the printing demands of publishers globally. What all of this will very likely lead to, unfortunately, is a book shortage.
Our intention here is not to wax poetic about the supply chain – it’s about transparency. The fact of the matter is, in the next couple of weeks and months (i.e., the holiday season) it might be hard to find the books you’re looking for. It’s very possible you’ll see empty shelves when you visit your local bookstores, and “out of stock” listings on your favourite online retailers. This is because when these books sell out, there will be significant delays for publishers to release more copies (what we call “reprints”). That means there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get the books you want in a timely manner.
As a publisher, this is stressful for us. It’s doubly stressful for authors whose excitement for their new releases is now fraught with the worry of what if people can’t buy my book?. It’s extra stressful for the bookstores who are trying their very best to stock the books that you want to buy.
So what can be done about it?
If you’re looking to learn more, Don Gorman from Calgary-based publisher Rocky Mountain Books compiled this list of fantastic resources for further reading on these issues for RMB’s authors which offers plenty of different perspectives on what the next few months might look like for booksellers and book buyers alike.
New books will be hard to come by for the rest of the year
Quartz – Sept 16, 2021
Bookstores may not have the book you want this holiday — here’s why
Yahoo Finance News – Sept 16, 2021
Why local bookstores are telling you to buy gifts now
ABC News – Sept 15, 2021
The Latest Major Shortage Is Happening at the Worst Time Possible
Best LIfe – Sept 14, 2021
The Publishing Industry Is Facing Never Before Seen Book Shortages — Here’s Why
Distractify – Sept 15, 2021
Supply Chain Challenges: Put Your Book Orders In Now For the Holidays
BookRiot – Sept 14, 2021
The World Is Still Short of Everything. Get Used to It.
NY Times – August 30, 2021