The growing disruption of the global supply chain has now reached the world of books, as the holiday season approaches – a crucial time for publishers and bookstores.
Publishers are postponing some release dates because the books aren’t where they belong. Older books are also affected, as vendors struggle to restock them.
To get a book printed and put in the hands of customers, there are basically two different supply chains. On both paths, at almost every stop, there is a problem.
Books that require a lot of color, like picture books, are often printed in Asia. But the movement of goods to the United States has become atrocious, with every product imaginable scrambling for position.
First, there are not enough sea containers. Publishing professionals say a container, which can hold around 35,000 books, cost them around $ 2,500, but can now grow to $ 25,000.
Once the books enter a container, the ship carrying them is likely to line up to dock at a safeguarded port. Last month, a record 73 ships were sailing in the water near the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach.
Labor shortages are also slowing operations in warehouses and distribution centers. Companies are raising wages to attract more staff, but they are competing with others who are doing the same. And the virus has made staff problems worse, as some workers fall ill and others are asked to quarantine themselves. In some book distribution centers, an executive said, vaccination rates are low.
All of these issues complicate each other, and there isn’t much in the book world that can be done to make matters better.