COVID-Created Supply Chain Problems Playing Havoc with Book Publishers and Bookstores

Last month, the New York Times published an article detailing the various supply materials shortages, labor shortages, and distribution bottlenecks that are affecting the country’s traditional methods (and delivery timetables), all of them resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

All of these challenges – none of which will be resolved any time soon – are driving up book prices for publishers and for readers, and adding to the delays in the publication of many titles.

If your access to the Times isn’t hidden behind a paywall, you can read about the daunting challenges facing the book production and bookselling industries here.


Why Readers Should Probably Be Wary of Reviews

This is latest of several articles I’ve read over the past few months exposing the problems of the reviews posted to

Depressing…but apparently not illegal – just very unethical.

Fortunately, there are plenty of more trustworthy sources of online books reviews. (See the list of links at REVIEWS in the Booklover’s Toolbox for several dozen of them.)

When it comes to weighing evidence about whether a book may be worth buying – or even borrowing from a library – Let The Reader Beware.

Found via The Paris Review Daily

Book Reviewing in the Internet Age

Thus writes David Daley, at The Bronze Medal:
The Internet has been amazing for book talk. There is more of it, and at a higher quality, than perhaps at any other moment, certainly in my lifetime. Dinosaurs love to lament the lost space in newspaper book reviews; a few years ago, the National Book Critics Circle fought, what seemed to me, a self-serving campaign to save the book review, by which a handful of people really wanted to save their right to sell the same lame 450-word book report to a handful of regional dailies. You didn’t have to bother reading the book to write many of those reviews, and as a one-time daily books editor myself, who once assigned reviews to some of those active in this debate, it was clear that many critics did not. Now we have the Rumpus and the Awl and the Millions and the Morning News and Maud Newton and Bookslut and the Nervous Breakdown and Full-Stop and the Los Angeles Review of Books and HTMLgiant and you get the idea. Professional freelancers didn’t save the book review – the battle was won by the Internet and people who love reading. The culture is richer for it.

Amazon: The Bully Behind Those Great Prices

More alarms have gone off lately about the growing power of to dictate…well, just about any aspect of publishing these days.

An excerpt from one recent article:

For book publishers, the relevant market isn’t readers (direct sales are few), but booksellers, and Amazon has firm control of bookselling’s online future as it works to undermine bookselling’s remaining brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Amazon controls every growing segment of the industry: online physical books, downloadable audio books, online used books, and e-books. Amazon commands about 75% of the online market for print books, and 60% of the e-book market (a percentage that decreased from Amazon’s reported 90% two years ago, as a result of agency pricing).

You might want to read the entire article, posted at the website of the  Author’s Guild; the article is especially helpful in summarizing some of the background to the latest flurry of worry about Amazon.

Found via The Rumpus

More Printed Books Instead of Fewer Ones?

Will the e-book kill off the print book? Every time I hear that question, I think about the ‘paperless office.’ Back in the ’80s, the rise of word processors and e-mail convinced a lot of people that paper would vanish. Why print anything when you could simply squirt documents around electronically? We all know how that turned out.”

So writes Clive Thompson at the beginning of a Wired essay explaining why he believes that there are more – not fewer – books in our collective future.

Sure, the e-book has been invented and reading on screens has become popular. Although purchasing an e-book is hardly as inexpensive as readers had hoped, more and more people are buying devices to read those not-always-inexpensive e-books on various types of screens – including, most incredibly, the tiny screens on their mobile telephones.

However, another – and far less publicized – invention that’s revolutionizing the publishing industry is the still-reasonably-priced “book-on-demand.”  True, the equipment used to instantly publish a printed book as it is ordered isn’t cheap, but Thompson predicts it will eventually become so, to the extent that individual consumers may end up owning them.

Read Thompson’s entire essay.

Found via Shelf Awareness


Project Gutenberg Founder Michael Hart Dies at 63

Michael Stearn Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg and inventor of the electronic book, died this week at age 63.

The importance of Project Gutenberg to the history – and to the future – of books would be difficult to overemphasize.

Librarians, archivists, and computer-owning bibliophiles have Hart to thank for his visionary project to enlist the aid of thousands of volunteers around to globe to eventually digitize (and proofread) the texts of every copyright-free book ever published – and make these e-books available to anyone free of charge. (Hart launched his project before Google and decided they’d try something similar as a way of making money off the idea.)

Hart’s obituary is here. Wikipedia’s entry about Project Gutenberg is here.

Found via Shelf Awareness

The Rising Tide of Typos in Published Books

So it’s not just us – someone else has noticed an alarming increase in the number of typographical errors readers are finding in printed books!

We’re very happy about the democritization of the publishing industry resulting from self-published books, etc., but we hate paying big bucks for a traditinally published book only to find it littered with typos.

In this New York Times article, Virginia Heffernan explains why we’ve been noticing more typos lately, and why we’re likely to see more of the same…

Found via The Book Bench

What Rowling Has Wrought…

FastCompany has posted a summary of just how lucrative the phenomenon generated by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter creation has become since the publication of the first book in 1998.

What started out as a children’s book series has morphed into spinoffs – like the final movie version, due out July 16th, of the final book in the series – that have generated not millions, but billions of dollars.

Found via Shelf Awareness

Publishing in a Landscape Dominated by

Marketing books like widgets was supposed to be a godsend for small publishers and a windfall for the pocketbooks of booklovers who buy their books online via, right?

What if the company’s methods of minimizing the prices of its books (and especially e-books) are decimating the sustainability and profit margins of all the players in the book-producing and book-distributing universe except

This recent article in the Boston Review may be the most disturbing report to date on what Amazon is willing to resort to in order to achieve those low prices we booklovers have gotten used to whenever we order something from Jeff Bezos’s paradigm-shifting business model for selling – among other things – books.

Postscript [found at Baby Got Books]: For booklovers/book-buyers who’d like to contrast’s PR with some less flattering reportage, Against Amazon exists purely to post a running display of excerpts from and links to online articles and blogposts that don’t treat as harmless.