How has COVID impacted the book industry?



The last year and a half has been a very challenging time for many people and businesses. The publishing industry has faced its own difficulties during the pandemic. We would like to reflect on the obstacles we have faced and are still struggling with and tell you what we are currently doing to help the industry issues.



Paper and raw materials shortage.


There is currently a paper shortage across the world – there are many reasons for this, the main one being raw materials being hard to come by. The pandemic has forced many production companies to stop or slow down, many factories have sadly shut down and those that are open are having to practise with covid rules in place, which dramatically slows things down. Not only this, with holiday seasons, many factories often switch to creating wrapping paper rather than normal paper and covers.



Postal and Transportation Issues


Costs to transport books have risen significantly and with Brexit in the UK – the regulations are stricter for posting within the EU, add a sprinkling of customs issues and it can be a real nightmare. Covid has also caused bigger issues worldwide, with delayed delivery times.

We personally do not print in China ourselves, but many publishers do, since Covid, the transportation costs to ship from China have raised astronomically, so to combat this, these publishers that usually print millions of copies in China are now using printers based in the UK, USA, and Australia, which we use. So, our production and delivery times have risen greatly due to this. This is not to say this is always the case, but it can certainly cause occasional delays.



Printers facing new problems


Not only are some printers prioritising their biggest paying customers, but there has been a rise in the price of their own materials. Paper prices have raised but along with this, so have energy prices. With the covid guidelines in many countries needing to be followed, lack of stock and problems with shipping. We have sometimes been giving delays of 25 days + when we are used to a 2–3-day turnaround time.



An influx of new writers


Many people had more time on their hands during the pandemic, and still to this day. With working from home or some people sadly being made redundant – more and more people are writing books. With this, we are now looking at a lot more books being released in the market than usual, almost a third more titles than the industry usually release. 



People buying celebrity books over new authors books


It was reported that in 2020 about 98% of the books that publishers released 2020 sold fewer than 5,000 copies a lot of experts think this could be because of new buying habits from the public. Ten years ago, there were celebrities writing biographies, but that was about it. Now famous people are writing fiction, children’s books, and other genres – which pushes new, talented authors into the backseat. While this is great for general book sales, many new authors are struggling to stand out when the market is dominated by well-known people.



So, how are we dealing with these issues?


Well, we’re doing as much as we can. If we have the power to make a change, we have. Sadly, a lot of these problems are out of all publishers’ hands. Not a lot can be done about paper shortages, postage issues and bigger publishers publishing more celebrities than new authors. We are very lucky to have good communication with many of our partners and clients so we have been able to know where there will be delays and try and act accordingly.

As well as this, our authors have been wonderful and very understanding. Many people around the world believe the pandemic is over, but it is still very apparent in many businesses, if anything, more so – as many are only now seeing the big side effects from early issues. Going forward, we are hoping these problems will iron out and things will slowly return to normal.



08 Dec 2021