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Publishers face a serious paper shortage: books are delayed

Hawthorne Publishing depends on one large printer to put out its books, and this printer is seriously challenged by a shortage of white paper.

White paper? That’s been the standard material used in publishing in various forms since the printing revolution of the 15th century! But it is in such short supply that printers must schedule some books six months to a year in advance to deliver the product.

We are advising and managing the publication of a book of outstanding sermons from a favorite Indiana United Methodist Church minister, the late David Owen. Its title is “When We Don’t Know the Length of the Race: Sermons on Christian Quandaries and How to Move Beyond Them.” As it has been going through the pre-press processes which get it ready to be printed, we have been increasingly aware of paper shortages at our printer’s Michigan operation. This large printing company is having to schedule print jobs nine months to a year in advance to get white paper. Covid shortages are to blame. Here is how one printing information website describes it:

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has been exacerbating existing problems in the global supply chain for nearly two years now. Add to that pressure a global labor shortage, a paper shortage, the consolidation of the American printing industry, and an increased demand for books from bored stay-at-homers across the US, and you’re faced with what Baehr says is a “perfect storm” of factors to create what some observers are calling a book shortage.



It doesn’t seem that there is a book shortage to me, only a white paper shortage. We are told we can use natural paper or coated stock or use a different printing method which takes another kind of paper; it’s just that the standard white 50 or 60 pound paper that most books use is very short supply. No lumbermen to cut the trees, shortage of workers at lumbering operations, trucker difficulties—all supply chain troubles caused by the pandemic.

Our printer in Michigan, in business for many years, for example, has offered offset printing for most of its books, but recently has encouraged customers to go to inkjet printing ,which involves water ink and duplicated sheet work. We shall solve our problem in the present book by going to inkjet printing and using the special papers that requires, which are available.

“And so it goes,” as Kurt Vonnegut so aptly said. Watch for this book in early Summer! It will lift your hearts in a time of challenge. Its website will soon go live.

Caption from back cover: “David Glen Owen served Methodist churches, principally in Indiana, for over fifty years —1962-2004. From the pulpit he confronted, cajoled, and exhorted parishioners to serve God through consecrated individual pilgrimages, in civic witness, and in calls-to-action for a more just society. A selection of the most memorable of these timeless sermons has been collected from parishioners who treasured and preserved them. Now they appear in book form, along with a taste of Owen’s artwork, to inspire a new generation of seekers for good which comes from dedication to the Christ of the Open Road.”

Nancy Baxter is the prize-winning senior editor at Hawthorne Publishing, in the book business for some thirty-five years.