Global supply shortage on printing could impact holiday season for N.L. book publishers

·2 min read
Local publishers say a shortage of book printing supplies and access to printing plants are leading to new releases being delayed. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
Local publishers say a shortage of book printing supplies and access to printing plants are leading to new releases being delayed. (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

A worldwide shortage of book printing supplies is putting Newfoundland and Labrador producers in a publishing pinch.

According to Boulder Books president and co-owner Gavin Will, the cause of the shortage dates back to early 2020 and is fuelled by the high cost of paper and being unable to access printing plants. Boulder Books is a publisher based out of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's.

"It's been a difficult year, much to my surprise," Will told CBC Radio's Weekend AM Saturday. "The price of paper has gone up higher than predicted … particularly for the glossy, high quality papers."

Rebecca Rose, president and publisher of the St. John's-based Breakwater Books, said she and other publishers in the country are in the same boat. On top of a higher cost for paper, she said, other publishers have been told paper needs to be rationed to create products like paper towels and cardboard boxes.

The publishing system is also reliant on shipping and supply chains, Rose said, which can create challenges for those looking to get books out to distributors.

"The movement of the books from the printer to the publisher … then from the distributor out to the bookstores, is completely reliant on that system which is entirely bottlenecked," she said.

Heather Barrett/CBC
Heather Barrett/CBC

Forced delays

Will said the delays and supply shortages have pushed some titles to being put on the shelf until the new year, as well as moving publishing outside of Canada in some cases because of a lack of guarantees from printers.

But, while a full slate of publishing is expected for 2022, he said delays may impact the upcoming Christmas season.

"You're really at the mercy of the worldwide supply chain issue," he said. "We were kind of hoping for a good Christmas, and I'm not so sure that's going to happen."

However, Will and Rose both say the delay isn't stopping publishers from releasing some titles as well as pushing books that are already available.

In the meantime, Rose said she's encouraging readers to look for alternatives like audiobooks, e-books or placing pre-orders on upcoming reads to potentially secure an early copy.

"Also, buy in person, because you're not relying on that supply chain," Rose said.

"Come into your shop, if COVID allows you to. ... There are a lot of other alternates they might discover and be interested in compared to some of the other forthcoming ones. But they are coming, and a lot of great ones."

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