The State of Today’s Book Marketplace, Part 1: Global Supply Chain & Print Solutions

July 29, 2022
Rob Grindstaff
Gina Walpole
The State of Today’s Book Marketplace, Part 1: Global Supply Chain & Print Solutions

How does the current book marketplace look to you? It may seem a bit shaky and uncertain for some, while others would see a field of opportunity.

Both would technically be right since the sporadic nature of unforeseen delays, limited resources, and border logistics leaves little to be desired in the wake of evolving consumer behaviors. Though despite the changing landscape, there are opportunities for expansion that wouldn’t have presented themselves as quickly if it weren’t for the more recent supply chain issues.

Problems call for solutions, but before we dive into those, we’ll dissect the current market issues and how they came about.


Global Supply Chain

Let's take a step back and look at the current state of the market and how businesses of all sizes continue to be affected by it. According to ZIPPIA:

  • Nearly 40% of all US small and medium-size businesses experience supply chain delays from logistics to transportation and obtaining materials. 
  • Four out of every ten small businesses experience delays in their supply chain, which equated to about $1.14 trillion estimated in out-of-stock items. 
  • The overall global supply chain market size value is about $15.85 billion as a whole, and we are continuing to see that rise with an anticipated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% between 2020 and     2027, due to demand outweighing current availability.
  • The TransportationManagement System market value is anticipated to rise with a CAGR of 11%between 2021 and 2028, increasing the market value from $120.7 billion to$261.89 billion.

Pain Points Within the Supply Chain

Material Scarcity & Demand Forecasting

There has been a rise in freight and transportation prices for containers, trucks, and shipping for two and a half years. As materials become scarce and prices increase, it becomes more difficult for businesses to estimate future demand for their products and services. This inability to forecast consumer needs means companies won’t have sufficient data to gauge supply needs.

Port Congestion & Labor Shortages

There are issues getting ships into ports, and once these vessels arrive to pick up and transport goods, there’s a scarcity of workers to offload containers onto trailers. In addition, there are issues of having enough trailers to get those containers across the country to their warehouses. 

Changing Consumer Behavior

As physical retailers closed their doors, a fundamental change in consumer behavior has played a massive role in how publishers manage their global supply chain. These closures led to fewer consumers walking into retail stores and in turn more books and other products are purchased online. 

Needless to say, these pain points have made a challenging landscape for companies in the publishing industry, starting with printing.

Global Book Printing Trends

There are a few printing and availability trends that the book market is experiencing due to supply chain issues. 

Paper Mills have All Customers on Allocation

Most printers across the globe have been put on paper allocation by paper mills, meaning they are given a set amount of cargo by the paper mill allocated per month. 

Sometimes printers in the market get their full allocations, and sometimes they don't. Suppose  manage their forecast for books to be printed and distributed based on allocation but don't receive the full amount. In that case, it causes an issue in their supply chain, disrupting their business and ability to get books out the door.

Mills are Changing Product Output

A trend that continues to evolve is that mills are starting to change their product output. The amount of paper mills creating and producing just paper has dwindled. Most mills have grown to develop more corrugate and box material due to the growing demand in the market. 

Just this year, Verso, one of the largest coated paper providers globally, announced they would be converting a few of their paper mills to corrugate mills to supply more boxing material.This change stands to create a challenge with coated paper stock worldwide. 

Regular Price Increases from Most Vendors

Price increases are becoming a regular occurrence amongst vendors, most of which are coming quarterly. Some price adjustments are even coming monthly, which makes it challenging when setting pricing for your services. These price increases are across the board:paper, paper stock, packaging, corrugate, box material, dunnage, and ink. 

The supply chain issues we've experienced for the past two years have not lessened the way industry experts may have hoped. If anything, they will continue for the rest of 2022 and into2023, with some areas across the globe having their own unique challenges.

Managing the Present and Future

 We have to assume there will be continued disruption in the supply chain both in North America and globally within the book publishing and distribution industry. For example, industries in the offset printing world have been experiencing longer lead times for publishers than we have traditionally seen.

Though having similar supply issues as North America, the UK sees a substantially high fuel and energy costs increase. And publishers selling direct to consumers, particularly overseas, is very challenging, mainly from the UK into Europe post Brexit. 

 As it stands, there are a lack of services at this moment to support publishers in these areas. 

Print Solutions to Increase Reach & Accessibility

It's certainly not news that we at Ingram and other service providers are seeing increased interest and focus for in market printing solutions, to fill the resource and distribution gap brought on by the current state of the market. Publishers are looking for solutions to help them: 

  •     Reach their sustainability goals
  •     Reduce their books carbon footprint
  •     Gain faster speed to market
  •     Ensure their books can be available
  •     Manage unexpected demand
  •     Combat supply chain challenges

Using Print-on-Demand (POD)ultra-short run options is something publishers are starting to look at early in the life cycle of their book. With our established POD operations in the US, UK, and Australia, our print-on-demand facilities have services to assist publishers in many ways, from single-copy production to managing orders back to customers or distribution partners. We can connect your publishing business to a broad range of retailers through a wholesale arrangement of print and market solutions.

We recently opened a fully functioning POD facility in the Middle East in the city of Sharjah. As the first in the region, our Sharjah facility allows publishers to manage their own print runs and sell into the region through a wholesale POD arrangement. With our Sharjah facility, publishers can print and ship orders of 1+ units within the UAE and neighboring countries, and sell to retailers and distributors in the MENA region.

According to the Sharjah Book Authority,The MENA region currently has a population of around 370 million. Their book market is estimated to be $1 billion and projected to triple in size by 2030.

Sharjah is a large and expanding market with growing focus from the book industry. If you've not yet got an arrangement with Sharjah, it’s something to be considered as many retailers are now signing up to be able to purchase books locally in that marketplace. 

Expand Your Reach with Global Connect 

Global Connect is a service that many publishers have looked to during the supply chain challenges of recent. This service enables you to make the products available for in market production and sale to the local customers in that territory. Current markets include Brazil, China,Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, and South Korea. There is a lot of demand for books in these territories, but also a desire to have the books available in the local marketplace.

Some of these markets have seen fantastic growth of books over the last few years. For instance, the Japan market grew for the first time in almost 15 years, and the market in Italy andSpain has also seen significant growth.

Ingram is currently looking to add new markets to the Global Connect program, focusing on South Africa next and possibly looking into Singapore. 

Export Options for More Flexibility

Ingram is also looking to offer more export options from some of our other facilities. For example, we're considering the feasibility of transporting cargo from Australia to theSoutheast Asian region through freight arrangements while supplying some retailers in those marketplaces. We're close to finalizing some of those conversations.

The Demand for Local Printing

There has been a noticeable increase in demand for books to be available locally to address the challenges and sustainability goals that retailers have set.

To give further insight, Ingram's Global Connect volume over the past couple of years has seen a clear spike post Brexit with a larger spike during 2021, where there were more significant challenges.

Last year, delays and retailers' inability to order through their usual supply chains pushed them to rely more on the local marketplace. Though this demand for local markets has trailed off as retailers slowly resumed their usual arrangements, we continue to see significant growth in the use of local markets.

While Ingram has worldwide printing service available, we will continue to develop and look at how we can support with more solutions and recommendations. Click here to learn how these services help publishers tackle this global issue on a local level.

The State of Today’s Book Marketplace, Part 1: Global Supply Chain & Print Solutions
Rob Grindstaff

Rob Grindstaff

Rob Grindstaff is the Director of Sales Operations and Product Development for Ingram Content Group’s Lightning Source, LLC. In this role, he manages both internal product development for Ingram’s print-on-demand business as well as customer-facing projects. Rob is a publishing industry veteran with more than 28 years of experience. He has served in various job roles over this period including sales, marketing, operations, and product development. He came to Ingram from ProQuest where he was responsible for strategic marketing the company’s aggregated database product platform.

Gina Walpole

Gina Walpole

Gina Walpole is the Senior Services Manager for Ingram Content Group UK. She began her book industry career with Ingram Content Group back in 2009 as a sales representative before going on to manage key trade and professional accounts. Throughout her time with the company, Gina has been involved with every aspect of Ingram’s offering — from POD to digital to niche publications and has amassed a wealth of experience by working closely with clients across the publishing ecosystem.

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