If you pre-order books from Amazon like I do, you may recently have gotten some messages letting you know that the book has been rescheduled and will arrive later than originally planned. While this is something that always happens to some extent (planning for the future is an imperfect science), there’s a reason why these are hitting in larger quantity now.
Most of the books that you read these days – and it’s particularly true for color books or fancy things like pop-up books – are printed overseas. The upside to overseas printing is the price — the savings are major in doing so. The downside is the turnaround time, particularly when it comes to shipping. Even at the best of times, it can take quite a while for your book to be shipped from Asia to North America.
These are not the best of times.
At the moment, there is a huge backup in overseas shipping caused primarily by the pandemic. In a key example of it, a major terminal at China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan port (one of the world’s biggest shipping ports) just reopened, having been closed two weeks due to a worker getting COVID, sending the others to quarantine. Shipments where, when possible, rerouted through other ports, but that all takes time, particularly since those other ports were likely already running close to capacity. This is just the latest in a series of problems that add up. So there will be delays in getting books and so many other things — including lots of hoped-for Christmas goodies — to the US.
(In case anybody’s curious: no, About Comics publications are not directly suffering from by the shipping problem. In over 20 years of publishing, the only time that we have printed any of our books outside of North America was print-on-demand publishing for overseas markets, so they wouldn’t have to be shipped a great distance.)