If you’ve watched the events of this year get gradually worse as month on month more drama and trauma have been pushed on us all, then you may be wondering just what might be next. An alien invasion? Some terrible natural disaster? Acid rain? Actually the truth is much worse that all of these things because thanks to Covid, the next thing on the list is probably book shortages due to Covid, which is causing all sorts of issues including problems of capacity issues at two of the largest printing companies.
This spring the pandemic caused bookshops across the world to close, authors cancelled tours, editors and publishers were concerned and as such many of them simply postponed publication dates, hoping for and gambling on things being better in the Autumn. However, now September is here and things are far from normal. Novels that should have been released in the spring and early summer are now all forced to publication and are all landing at once colliding with what was already planned as the Autumn/Fall releases.
The combination of events makes this the most crowded publishing seasons ever, which should be music to the ears of any bookworm ever, but with things hardly back to normal at all, publishers are left with another issue, which is how to print all those books.
The two biggest printing companies in the US, Quad, and LSC Communications have seen immense financial strain due to market pressures, and now with the pandemic, LSC declared bankruptcy. This month the printer’s assets will be put up for auction, and Quad is also up for sale and the company have had to temporarily shut down its printers at three plants due to the pandemic.
The current situation has also caused an upsurge in books, as people are reported to be reading much more during the pandemic, and print books have actually seen a spike in sales. This would normally be cause for celebration for any publishing or printing company but instead is one factor in a perfect storm of events causing an issue and potentially a future shortage of print books.
Even British publishers Penguin Random House have had to admit that the ability for infinite printing just isn’t there right now, and its delaying several of its titles due to the current situation. It’s not just new novels either, reprints are taking on average twice the time to hit the shelves than before. Print runs keep getting squeezed and pushed back and while the consumer hasn’t seen the pinch yet, it soon will, especially when you have such big selling publications such as novels from Suzanne Collins, and several tell all political books that have sold tens of thousands of copies.
While we suspect the demand will be kept up as much as possible for bestsellers and big publications, we fear its lesser known up and coming authors who might suffer and see their books bumped for publications that are guaranteed sales. \
Given all that 2020 has thrown at us, taking away our books really would be the final straw!