As the holiday season approaches, an important time for publishers and bookstores, global supply chain turmoil has reached the world of books.
Publishers have postponed some release dates because the books aren’t where they are needed. Older books are also affected as suppliers struggle to replenish them.
There are basically two different supply chains for printing a book and putting it in the hands of a customer. Both paths cause problems at virtually every step.
Books with many colors, such as picture books, are often printed in Asia. However, shipping freight to the United States has become intolerable and all conceivable products are competing for position.
First, there are not enough shipping containers. According to publishing experts, a container that can hold about 35,000 books used to cost about $ 2,500, but now it can grow to $ 25,000.
Once the book is in the container, the ships carrying it may wait in line to dock at the backed up port. Last month, a record 73 ships were rocking in the waters near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Labor shortages are also delaying warehouse and distribution center operations. Companies are raising wages to attract more staff, but they are competing with others doing the same. The virus also exacerbates staffing issues, as some workers become ill and others are told to quarantine. According to one executive, vaccination rates are low at some book distribution centers.
All of these problems complicate each other and there is little in the industry that can be done to solve them.