Hi, Foggy Pine Friends! This blog post is going to be about the unique issues & problems that we're facing this holiday season. I will be outlining these to discuss how they're impacting us as a store & how that will then impact you as a customer. I also have some recommendations to make this holiday season as easy as possible for everyone.
First, I want to start by explaining something about the holiday season as it pertains to retail stores. In Boone, most stores are making the bulk of their profit between October & December. We are not an exception to this and, in fact, it holds even greater significance for us as an indie bookstore since our profit margins are so small. What we make during the holiday season has to keep us afloat from January to April, when our sales dip dramatically. And when I say dramatically, I really mean it. Our sales drop by about 60%, sometimes more, after the holidays. This is manageable if we've had a good holiday season. Last year, the holidays weren't as good as they typically are and, by February, we were really struggling. As you probably know, we were fortunate enough to be chosen by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to be featured on their Super Bowl night episode. Without their (& your!) help, I genuinely don't know where we'd be today.
So, I'm starting this holiday season with a bit of anxiety but that quickly mounted to dread when I learned about some of the supply chain issues the book industry is having this year. Currently, we are dealing with several different issues that are creating different problems within publishing. One that you may not have heard about is the current paper shortage. This shortage is affecting publishing dates, how many books publishers can order, and what is being chosen to be published. Hand-in-hand with that are the printer issues that we have been facing since Covid started.
I would like to give you a little bit of background on the printer situation. At the beginning of Covid, when the whole world seemed to shut down temporarily, the lack of business caused the closure of a huge amount of printers around the world. Once things started picking back up, those that closed didn't re-open their doors and the ones that were left have been flooded with printing orders since then. There are significantly less domestic printers available for publishers to use so international printers are receiving these orders instead and, since it's not just one publisher who needs these printers but *all* of them, the international printers are quite overwhelmed.
Now, how does that affect us? What these supply chain issues mean is that books, especially popular ones, are increasingly difficult to come by & backordered titles are taking much longer to come back in stock. It means that some popular books are not going to be available in November & December and that some slightly less popular books will have less copies available to us to purchase. It also means that some authors books will have their release dates pushed back to accommodate these printing schedules. However, because we've been aware of this, we've been ordering additional copies of our popular titles & are trying to acquire a wide variety of other books for mystery box & recommendation purposes.
Your next question is probably something like, "what should I be doing as a consumer?" and that's a great question! The first thing we ask is that you are patient & remember that our booksellers are not making things difficult for you on purpose and that much of this is out of our control. Beyond being kind to our staff, the main thing is to get your holiday shopping started early this year, like WAY early. We're encouraging folks to place pre-orders for books that come out between now & the end of the year--we even offer 15% off pre-orders placed 30+ days in advance of the release date so it actually benefits you to pre-order early! If you wait until release day, there's a very high chance that you will not be able to get a copy of that book in time for the holidays. We also encourage you to use our booksellers for their expertise! While we know it will be frustrating when things you want for gifts aren't available, we really need customers to be open to suggestions of similar titles from our booksellers and willing to try other formats, such as e-books or audiobooks through Foggy Pine Books. In addition to that, buying gift cards is always a great option when the book you wanted to order is not available before the holidays. If you don't mind books coming after the holidays as long as you have something to give on present day, we are more than happy to create a book certificate for you to give instead. Our mystery & subscription boxes also make excellent gifts. All you do is tell us a little bit about the person you're buying the gift for & how much money you want to spend--our booksellers will do the rest & can even wrap the books! So, get started with our online store or by dropping in to browse. And don't forget that we can ship orders anywhere in the US!
This holiday season is going to be a struggle for all of us but we hope that you'll continue to shop with us through the current difficulties so that we can still be here for you next spring. I promise that we'll do everything we can to accommodate your needs & help you create something special for the people you love this holiday season! After all, we wouldn't be here without you & making your life special is a true joy for us.
If you have questions about any of this or if you would like some assistance getting started on your holiday shopping, please don't hesitate to reach out to us! We're here Mon-Sat & are available over the phone, via email, and in-person.
Max Ruthless: Owner