It is not even spring yet, but the expected printing crunch already appears to be in full swing. A lack of both workers and paper continues to hamstring printers, and a number of independent publishers have already reported finding it extremely difficult—if not next to impossible—to find printing time as far ahead as July and October.

To help all parts of the book business's supply chain get a better handle on what is going on in in the printing world, the Book Manufacturers' Institute has begun a new monthly survey of its manufacturing members in order to assess capacity and lead times for softcover and hardcover books. The results of BMI's first survey were released yesterday, and did indeed indicate that press availability is at a premium.

The survey is divided between printers of hardcover and softcover books, with responses finding that printing capacity is currently running at more than 80% for both formats. For the 17 hardcover printers, the average manufacturer was running at 85% of their capacity. (Capacity was defined as what you could manufacture today based on all variables.) The average lead time for completed hardcover books was 84 days. For soft cover books, capacity was at 89% and the average lead time 70 days, based on the 15 responses received by the BMI.

“Labor and paper are still the two biggest factors we are seeing in book manufacturing today," BMI executive director Matt Baehr said in a statement." Both can be very difficult to come by and that is affecting a large majority of our industry."