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Michelle’s commentary on books, digital publishing and intersections between fiction & reality

Supply chain issues are hitting the publishing industry hard

September 15, 2021

Pre-order your favorite upcoming releases now, because a book shortage could mean that when the print version runs out, it won’t be back for awhile.

I came across this tweet a week or so ago, regarding underlying issues in supply chains and how those could manifest in the near future. I spent probably an hour pouring over the replies—and implore you to do so if, like me, this wasn’t something you’re very aware of.

All of the anecdotes from people working in niche industries are pretty alarming when you factor in how that will impact extremely important sectors.

Everyone remembers the toilet paper shortage at the start of the pandemic, but what about more “unnoticed” ones that don’t line grocery shelves? A chip shortage means no laptops for teachers. And a paper shortage limits the amount of photocopies they can make. Things are slowly unraveling.

Speaking of that paper shortage, the publishing industry will soon be at the forefront of these issues, and the holidays will make this reality even more apparent.

Paper isn’t the only contributing factor—the demand for wood is high, there’s worker shortages in warehouses that pack and ship everything, oversea shipments are delayed and there’s a shortage of truck drivers.

It seemed as if the book business had survived the pandemic when so many other industries had fallen, but it’s crashing down.

Tubby & Coo’s, an indie bookstore, published an excellent Twitter thread laying everything out.

All this to say if there’s an upcoming release you’ve had your eye on, pre-order it ASAP. If you’re planning on buying books for the holidays, order them now. Support your local bookstores who will get hit by this much harder than chain retailers.

If the thought crossed your mind, switching to ebooks isn’t a feasible solution either. It might allow you to indulge in some books that aren’t available in hardcover or paperback, but it’s no permanent fix.

Not everyone has access to a kindle or the internet. This damage to the publishing industry isn’t just a scary thought for authors and fiction-lovers, but libraries as well. And, as mentioned earlier, this is more an example of the major supply chain issue as a whole—not just one problem.

It’s very sad to see these circumstances hit the publishing industry, but even more harrowing to consider what it will mean for other sectors.

And just BTW, pre-ordering books is always a good idea, not just during a supply chain crisis.

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