This is because with the fallout effects of the supply chain crisis, there will be no guarantee that bookstores can keep books in demand on the shelves. Between paper shortages, port backups, shipping delays and a global labor shortage, it will be increasingly difficult for booksellers to get their hands on books as the holidays approach.
“Almost at every level of the traditional supply chain for books, we are seeing a significant impact,” said Dobrow. “All of this is sort of a perfect storm for the book world. “
Dobrow said some of the most affected products are books printed with multiple and complex colors – like cookbooks, children’s picture books, and art books – because most of these books are printed in China. Jennifer Jubenville, manager of Fitger’s bookstore in Duluth, said she has also faced prolonged delays with calendars, and said stuffed animals are difficult to keep in stock and restock.
Zenith Bookstore owner Bob Dobrow poses at his West Duluth store on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Duluth children’s author and illustrator, Deborah Marcero, has seen firsthand the impact of color printing delays. His emerging reader series, “Haylee and Comet,” saw the release of his first book delayed by a few weeks in June. The sequel, which was originally slated for release in September, has been pushed back several times and is now slated for a January launch. It also delayed the release of the third book in the series.
“It’s not personal; it’s happening in all patterns, ”Marcero said. “But it’s slightly disheartening to feel like things are out of my control. But also the books will come and they will have their life.
She’s had other books impacted as well. “The Boy Whose Head Was Filled with Stars,” illustrated by Marcero, came out in January, but sold out quickly and was difficult to restock. The book’s publisher, Enchanted Lion Books, was able to find a national printer, which saved several months of waiting for restocking, Marcero said.
“It can come out on release day, but if it sells out and people have to wait, it kind of misses its moment,” she said.
Local independent booksellers have also struggled to restock. Jubenville said she was able to make educated guesses about how many books to order, but sometimes a book will appear on a talk show or book club list, and its popularity will spread “like wildfire. “unexpectedly.
Zenith Bookstore worker Sarah Brown, right, hands Savannah Cuthbertson a book that was on hold for her on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
“Sales have been great, which is really good, but orders last less when we get them in stock, and we don’t have a ton of room for return inventory,” Jubenville said. “I think we’re going to have a lot of inventory, but in terms of having the specific thing that someone is looking for, we can’t really promise.”
New book orders and restockings can take months to deliver, and delivery times change frequently, so they can’t always be counted on on time. Dobrow said at a Zenith Bookstore launch event for local author Linda LeGarde Grover’s book “Gichigami Hearts” earlier this month, the books only arrived hours before the event.
Both Dobrow and Jubenville have said they have wholesale orders for books they expect to be popular, but these wholesale orders take up valuable in-store space that could be used for other merchandise.
“Where before we could order in both, we are now ordering in the 10s, 20s and 50s, ”said Dobrow. “It creates challenges. Where are we going to put them all? “
Additional books sit under a table at the Zenith Bookstore on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. Owner Bob Dobrow said he could previously order a book or two at a time. Now he has to order in bulk to make sure he gets what he needs. Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Dobrow said that while the Zenith bookstore may appear well stocked now, with books stacked in any open space, he expects the shortages to start showing in about a month. If buying early or pre-ordering an upcoming book doesn’t work for customers, Jubenville and Dobrow said staff at local bookstores are more than happy to recommend other options in stock, which is a service. that they deem important, online retailers may ‘not match.
“We have a lot of experience in pairing the person with a book,” Dobrow said. “If the book isn’t available, we can work with people to find a good replacement or an alternative. “
Jubenville said that in addition to personal recommendations, which can come in handy for people who are difficult to buy, there is also a level of customer service that independent bookstores can provide that makes local shopping worth it.