‘The Beginning of the Snowball’: Supply-Chain Snarls Reach Publishing

When publishers print books in the United States, those workforce and transportation issues still apply, but They also face other complications.. After years of printing plants closing and going out of business, the demand to print books domestically now exceeds available capacity. Plants that are left sometimes don’t have enough people to run them, so badly needed machinery can sit idle.

All these problems complicate each other. “Trucks are more expensive, containers are more expensive, labor is more expensive,” said John Yeged, president of Macmillan’s US Trade Books division. “And all the extra touches. It used to be that you used to place a buy order, and it only arrived two weeks later. Now, it’s 10 touches and 15 emails. That’s too much work.”

This glitch has caused a major change in the publication date, sometimes postponing a book by a few weeks, other times for months, missing the holiday shopping season altogether. . Parag Khanna’s ‘Move’ was earlier scheduled to release on Tuesday, but will now release next week. Princeton University Press carried “The End of Ambition” by Mark Atwood Lawrence from October to November. “Smhatguy”, a graphic novel about former representative Barney Frank, was delayed from the fall to spring by Metropolitan Books, the Macmillan imprint. Publishers consider such a change a last resort, as a date change could result in the termination of event or news coverage, the cancellation of retail promotions, and fewer orders placed. Publishers prioritize the schedule of upcoming books that they expect to be their biggest sellers.

There’s not much anyone in the book business can do to fix this. Retailers, authors and distributors are requesting readers and customers to purchase or order quickly. Publishers plan ahead in advance and sometimes even put shipments of books on planes. One publisher said it currently costs about 35 to 50 cents per book to ship the title over the water and $5 to $8 by air. No one knows when things will return to normal, but it won’t be until after this holiday season.

Perhaps the biggest issue going into the holidays will be reprints, which are necessary when a book has a low initial order and needs to be reprinted. Normally, this kind of order takes about three weeks. Now it may take three months.

This is where “all the frequent troubles of our days” ran into trouble. The book, which describes an American woman who helped lead the German resistance against the Nazis, didn’t end everywhere, but it took weeks to bring new stock to warehouses, then extra time to deliver it to retailers. Put. (Barnes & Noble, as with many independent stores, all had copies—according to Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble, its non-buyers loved the book, so the chain ordered a lot of it.) This led to Amazon. Took more. More than seven weeks to receive copies back in stock.

Indeed, one factor that exacerbates these problems is good news for the industry: There is tremendous demand for printed books. Publishers’ trade-book revenue, which includes most fiction, nonfiction and general-interest titles, was up about 10 percent last year compared to 2019, and up 17 percent for the first six months of 2021, according to the Association of American Publishers Was. , compared to the same period in 2020.

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