The Latest Major Shortage Is Happening at the Worst Time Possible

Shortages of essential products abound this summer—the combination of labor shortages, supply chain issues, a lack of resources, and pandemic hoarding have all contributed to items becoming impossible to find. From toilet paper to pork, we’ve seen many products we use daily disappear from shelves or spike in price. Now, one beloved product is experiencing a shortage that’s predicted to get worse as the holidays approach. Read on to find out which popular gift you might have trouble finding soon.

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There is a book shortage that will be exacerbated by the holidays.

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Book retailers throughout the country have informed consumers that there is a shortage of books. The lack of physical books comes from a culmination of issues. “The pandemic has unleashed an extraordinary amount of reading and buying of books,” Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt told Today on Sept. 14. However, he predicts the surge in sales could lead to supplies running tight during the upcoming holidays.

According to Daunt, the biggest “problem comes as we get closer … to Christmas when some books are selling a bit more than we expect.” This level of buying complicates matters, “because the capacity for reprint is limited.” If you or your loved ones want books to cozy up with during the holiday season, Daunt says you don’t have to panic purchase a deluge of titles. However, he does advise that you buy the books you want sooner than you normally would.

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Book retailers are scrambling to keep up with the demand.

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Barnes & Noble isn’t the only book retailer that is experiencing a major shortage of books. According to Publishers Weekly, a Books Industry Study Group (BISG) webinar held in early July discussed the challenges the industry is facing in its supply chain. Publishers Weekly reported that panelists cited truck driver shortages, congestion at ports, and skyrocketing transportation costs as some of the factors at play. David Hetherington, Book International’s vice president of global business development, said we’re currently putting more pressure on the supply chain than at any other time he could remember. Since the July webinar, the situation has worsened.

As Publishers Weekly noted that, shrinking printing capacity and labor shortages have made it challenging for printers, retailers, and wholesalers to keep their businesses fully staffed. Two of the biggest wholesalers, Ingram and Bookazine, have reached out to their accounts to ask them to take action to help set them up for success as the holidays approach. The biggest recommendation was to order as early as possible.

Labor shortages and a spike in the price of wood pulp are also contributing to the book shortage.

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Unfortunately, people familiar with the matter don’t believe that the shortage will end any time soon. According to Today, experts predict the paper shortage will last into next year or even 2023. Paper production has been impacted not only by labor shortages, but also by the rise in the price of wood pulp. Today reported that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the cost of wood pulp, the raw material used to make paper, jumped over 50 percent in a year, with the price of paper climbing alongside it, rising over 14 percent.

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There’s also a shortage of envelopes, paper bags, and more paper products.

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The paper shortage has affected more than just the book industry. The challenges in the paper supply chain have led to shortages in envelopes, paper bags, boxes for package deliveries, toilet paper, and more. One bride-to-be told Today that when she went to order wedding invitations, she was told they would be delayed for weeks because the vendor didn’t have enough paper to print the necessary envelopes.

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