Media news website ICv2 has reported that North American bookstores and retailers are facing a shortage in the supply of manga in terms of reader demand. The website reported that major retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as specialty shops are selling out of popular manga titles and are unable to restock many of them.
According to publishing news outlet Publishers Weekly, truck driver shortages, widespread port congestion, and inflated container costs will continue to cause supply chain challenges in the book industry into 2022. According to ICv2, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing problems in the supply chain.
Vice President Publishing Sales for VIZ Media Kevin Hamric stated to ICv2 that increased demand during the pandemic and consolidation in the printing industry in the past few years “led to printers being at max capacity and not being able to accept new jobs in a timely manner.” Hamric added, “Combine this with the fact that printers had to operate under COVID restrictions, as did book distribution warehouses, and the supply chain starts to slow down.” Hamric stated there are also other issues such as shortages in paper, pallets, carton, employees, and truck drivers, along with issues in ports, containers, and shipping.
Yen Press Publisher Kurt Hassler also told ICv2 that in addition to increased demand, printing lead times have increased steadily and substantially in the past few years.
Director of Publishing at Penguin Random House Ben Applegate stated the company is “doing [its] best to place reprint orders to account for transportation time, but it’s been difficult to estimate what the need will be when stores are getting completely cleared out and placing large reorders on a weekly basis.” He also stated that several of the printers Penguin Random House uses are trying to increase staffing and facilities. Penguin Random House is the parent company of Kodansha Comics and its production team has gone from working with three printers to eight printers in five countries at any given time and is in the process of evaluating more.
ICv2 reported earlier in July 2021 that North American sales of print manga reached an all-time high in 2020. The new peak surpassed the previous record, which was set in 2007.