Update: The Systemic Printing & Binding Delays

Update: The Systemic Printing & Binding Delays

Hi Grim Oakers,

This will be an update of sorts, not only about our projects but also about the publishing industry as a whole and what all publishers are experiencing right now.

In short, times are tough for publishers—from small presses all the way up to the Big 6 publishers in New York City. While book sales were great last year for everyone, COVID-19 really upended the production aspect of the book field. Paper shortages were the first problem. In response to that as well as bookstores being closed, many publishers pushed their 2020 books into this year, on top of their already busy and full 2021 publishing schedules.

The result? A bottleneck of sorts. More books being published this year—from small presses to the Big 6 NYC publishers—has resulted in printing and binding queues that are really long. Three times as long as before, in fact. It's gotten so bad that even Publishers Weekly is putting on a webinar for publishers about the print and shipping delays and how to help mitigate these issues that aren't going anyway anytime soon.

What does this mean for Grim Oak Press? Well, the obvious part is our projects are all delayed. When we'd deliver files for a book to the printer and bindery, we'd usually have books arrive to our warehouse within 8-10 weeks. That was our normal. And it worked well for us.

Well, look at these status updates for several of our recent projects:

Files Uploaded: March 19, 2021
Warehouse Arrival: July 18, 2021

Files Uploaded: May 20, 2021
Warehouse Arrival: December 20, 2021

Files Uploaded: June 23, 2021
Warehouse Arrival: December 23, 2021

Files Uploaded: July 13, 2021
Warehouse Arrival: October 31, 2021

Files Uploaded: August 12, 2021
Warehouse Arrival: ?

Files Uploaded: Uploading by August's end
Warehouse Arrival: ?

Files Uploaded: Uploading by August’s end
Warehouse Arrival: ?

Files Uploaded: Uploading by September's end
Warehouse Arrival: ?

As you can see, the 8-10 weeks we were used to have vanished. Now it is taking many, many, many months for us to get our books. I reached out to Sub Press about this and they are seeing the same thing. Some printers aren't even taking on new projects right now. That's how late they are in delivering.

How are we going to mitigate this? There is obviously nothing we can do about the lag time we all are experiencing on these current books. Instead, we will be announcing project pre-order times much later in the process. Tailchaser's Song will be the last book we announce where the lag time will exist for the pre-orderer. After that, we will literally have all aspects of a book's production done and have it in the queue before we announce it. That way, it won't feel so long between you paying for a book and actually receiving it.

We do have some awesome projects coming up that we want to let you know about though. Going forward, whenever we sign contracts for a project, we will share that news. We just won't start taking pre-orders until files are already delivered to the printer.

I thought it best to update you all on this. Of course, if you have any questions or ideas that you want to share, do let us know. We listen to you. You are a part of our story. And only together can we get through this time.

Best Wishes,

Shawn Speakman
Publisher & Creative Director

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