Wednesday, December 8, 2021
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Bookstores may not have the book you want this holiday – here’s why

Bookstores may not have the book you want this holiday – here’s why

Do you love giving or receiving books as Christmas gifts? You may want to order them a little earlier in the year. Book industry experts warn that a number of problems in the supply chain from paper shortages to chaos in ports and a shortage of available truck drivers could conspire to ruin a book lover’s Christmas.

As readers around the globe spent more time at home last year, sales in U.S. print books rose 8.2% from January 2020 to December 2020, according to the NPD group, which saw sales in non-fiction, adult literature, youth and teen categories.

Candice Huber, owner of Tubby and Coo’s Mid-City Bookshop in New Orleans, is already seeing this now. Books that used to take two or three days to arrive now take up to eight weeks to arrive at her store.

She had heard about delays due to disruptions in the supply chain, but did not know what other contributing factors made it increasingly difficult to rebuild her store. After digging a little herself, Huber took to Twitter on Monday to share what she had learned from vendors, and it all starts with timber shortages.

“When you think of a wood shortage, you don’t immediately think of books or whiskey,” she said. “Most people think of construction,” Huber said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Lack of timber drove wood costs up to a record high of $ 1,686 per acre. Thousand feet in May, according to NC State’s College of Natural Resources. The total cost increase was 406% from May 2020, up from $ 333.

This shortage also caused paper prices to jump sharply. The New York Post reported this week that paper, pulp and corrugated paper prices were 18.1% higher last month than August 2020 and 1.6% higher since July, based on the Bureau of Labor’s producer price index. The rise in paper prices is also amplified by the rise in e-commerce during the pandemic, Business Insider reported.

The problems also exist in addition to product shortages. During a webinar hosted by Book Industry Study Group CEO Brian O’Leary in July, O’Leary and several panelists highlighted the various shipping and freight issues that led to supply chain issues, including port overcrowding, drastic increases in shipping costs and shortage of freight drivers.

“We have a full year of pent-up demand working its way through the U.S. supply chain,” said Ryan Forbes, logistics and transportation at Readerlink, a book industry distributor, during the webinar, pointing out the serious shortage of freight drivers.

Even when international shipments reach our shores, Forbes said the shortage of drivers is an important component of supply chain breakdowns. He explained how a retired group of baby boomers aged 55 to 57 are not being replaced by younger drivers. When COVID began, driving schools were forced to downscale, Forbes said, either by limiting enrollment to 40% to 50% or closing completely, making it difficult for new drivers to get on the road.

“Carriers literally reject the business. It’s not a question of opening the checkbook and saying we will pay you more … Carriers go out and they try to recruit drivers and they find that they can only reach 10 to 15% of these recruitments Goal. ”

David Hetherington, Book International’s vice president of global business development, said he’s never seen this kind of pressure on the supply chain before, and a boost in online ordering only threatens to exacerbate shortages and demand problems.

Huber typically makes orders as needed and fills shelves with the most popular books when selling. In the fall, she will not have that luxury.

“What I have to do right now is make decisions about books coming out in the last quarter of the year and essentially predict whether we think a book will sell a lot and whether we will need it. in the holiday season, “Huber said.

President Obama presents Bruce Springsteen with the 2016 Presidential Medal for Freedom in the White House. Obama and Springsteen will publish a book later in 2021. (Photo by Leigh Vogel / WireImage)

One example Huber said bookstores already worry about is the number of copies they will be able to get from former President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen’s collaboration, “Renegades: Born in the United States.” The former president’s biography, published last fall, was the best-selling book of 2020, according to Publishers Weekly.

“Normally we would just order copies, and if we sell out, we order more. But we can not do it now. When you’m sold out, you’re out, and I’m not getting any expected date for when things will be back in stock. If a book goes backordered, we just can not get it. ”

Huber can not stress it enough: Pre-order all the books on your list. If you miss the release, she said, a little patience is key.

“And it’s not just books right now either. This generally applies to retail, ”she said. “Be flexible and be prepared to wait.”

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