COVID-19 is behind a hardback book shortage. Seriously COVID? First, the Coronavirus traps us all in our houses without adequate toilet paper supplies and now it’s come for the books!

One side-effect of the lockdown was an upsurge in the demand for books. Not just any books, but actual physical books that we can hold in our hands. You know, the ones that start to smell a little bit like vanilla when they get old.

Hardback Comeback

It makes sense. On-the-go readers often turn to eBooks because they fit right on the phone or tablet you carry to work anyway. Stuffing a big book in a work bag just gives you more to carry. If you’re working from home, it’s comforting to pick up a nice book on your lunch break — a lunch break you can conveniently take in your favorite chair.

Many avid readers are reporting delays in receiving shipments of physical books. Why? There are several factors.

With bookstores closed, printers were hit hard by the drop in demand. And don’t forget, colleges are closed as well. So, there was a big drop in the demand for physical textbooks as more classes become virtual and materials turn digital.

Truthfully, U.S. printers were already struggling due to the continued drop in demand for printed educational materials. But physical books were making a bit of a comeback among readers. Publishers have turned to overseas printers to fill in the gaps.

Publication Dates Delayed

You’ll also notice that the publication dates for some highly-anticipated books are delayed. Publisher’s Weekly offered a gigantic list of delayed titles. The list is hundreds of titles long and covers every category imaginable from children’s books to novels to self-help.

The list is longer than the one for big-name movies that have been pushed back.

Indie authors like me, generally use print-on-demand services, haven’t been hit as hard, though you can sometimes see a bit of delay from the traditional turnaround which used to be less than a week. There are always eBooks. While eBooks make more money for indie authors, they earn less for publishers and nothing for the struggling bookstore industry.