Independent bookstores have had a wildly successful couple of years during the pandemic. With the combination of readers stuck at home and the cry for help from small businesses, many indie bookstores have found ways to stay open in an economy that was otherwise working against them. Independent publishers, on the other hand, have had a more difficult time keeping their doors open.
Now, indie print publishers are being told to expect an increase in printing costs of up to 40% due to inflation and supplier cost demands. In places like the UK, this increase is due to Brexit-related import/exports costs. Because of this, many independent publishers are looking to outsource printing to cheaper printers in Europe and China just to get by. Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books explains that his printing press has tried to keep its costs low over the last couple of years, but this increase is inevitable.
For many, this increase marks the difference between making and losing profits. Many publishers have had to review their title prices and cut costs where they can. Indie publishers also worry that this steep increase will close doors of diverse publishers that distributed minority stories. Sara Hunt, a publisher at Saraband, worries that if these publishers shut down because of the printing costs, it would lead to a “less bold, more cautious” publishing scheme. For now, we can only continue to support smaller presses by shopping small and hoping for the best.