United Parcel Service workers are slated to strike on August 1 should their union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, not strike a deal with the world's largest delivery company. With that in mind, the Big Five publishers and Ingram Content Group have developed plans in an attempt to prepare for, and alleviate the impact of, the walkout.
In general, the publishers—which, in addition to doing their own distribution and fulfillment, handle those functions for hundreds of smaller publishers—are urging bookstores to place orders as early as possible; in some cases, they are even extending payment terms. Publishers are also recommending that bookstores order as many copies of popular titles as possible to ensure books stay in stock, particularly in cases where author events are planned. In addition, publishers are working with other delivery companies to take over some of the load that UPS typically carries.
A spokesperson for Hachette Book Group said that the publisher is “offering an incentive for independent stores and specialty gift stores to stock up on backlist and recently published frontlist titles ahead of the strike, to have books on hand.” HBG is also shipping books publishing on August 1 and 8 early “to get ahead of the anticipated rush.”
Simon & Schuster has moved up processing for its most recent new releases, which will ship immediately in order to be delivered by July 28, according to a spokesperson. In addition, S&S said it plans to increase the volume of orders shipped via one of its small local, package carriers. For author events, S&S requested this week that orders be placed by July 19 in order to ship the books before the August 1 strike deadline. “Our sales team is following up with accounts to place orders,” the spokesperson said.
HarperCollins has created an extended payment offer on select titles, and has notified booksellers to place orders by July 20. “Orders shipped early, as part of the offer, will receive an additional 60 days on payment terms,” a spokesperson said.
Last week, Macmillan notified stores to submit orders by July 19 for any author appearances scheduled between July 24 and August 31. Author appearance orders shipped early will be eligible to receive an additional 30 days on payment terms, the publisher said.
For its part, Ingram has “detailed contingency plans ready if necessary, and we have encouraged our customers to order safety stock prior to the strike deadline to mitigate potential service interruptions,” a spokesperson said. The company is recommending that bookstores stock up on inventory early. Regular Ingram orders should be made before July 25, and Ingram Publisher Services customers should order before July 20, the distributor said. Ingram will be instituting fourth quarter seasonal credit line increases to assist booksellers with the early ordering.
On the negotiating front, there is hope that a strike will be averted. Negotiations between the union and management, which have been stalled since July 5, are set to be renewed next week. In a statement released on Twitter Wednesday, the Teamsters union said it had been contacted by management with an offer to resume negotiations next week.