A Korean shipping company is causing some headaches for U.S. publishers. The Hanjin Shipping Company, which filed for bankruptcy in August, has seen dozens of its ships—some carrying significant orders from trade houses—stranded at sea or seized by creditors. Affected publishers range from St. Martin's Press to W.W. Norton to Lee & Low.
Ray Ambriano, COO of Meadows WYE, an international shipping and logistics firm specializing in publishing, said the Hanjin's financial woes have affected "quite a few" importers, including publishers, and that "a bankruptcy of this size is unprecedented."
The Hanjin Switzerland, a container ship scheduled to arrive in New York on September 12, and carrying books from a number of publishers--including, among others, HarperCollins, Bloomsbury, St. Martin’s Press, Viz Media, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux--did not dock in New York until October 14. “The vessel sat south of the Suez Canal for more than three weeks in fear of being arrested by Egyptian authorities,” Ambriano said.
At least two publishers, Seattle-based comics house Fantagraphics Books, and Montreal-based indie comics house, Drawn and Quarterly, told PW that they have had books stranded at sea, or delayed, because of the bankruptcy dispute.
Jacq Cohen, publicity director at Fantagraphics, said the house had the complete print runs of two of its books—My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris (due out this month) and Ed Luce's Wuvable Oaf: Blood and Metal (November)—on a Hanjin ship that had its cargo seized earlier this month at the Panama Canal.
Cohen said that because of the situation, “the fate of the books is uncertain.” She added: "We are currently in talks with a maritime lawyer and are making plans to reprint the books as soon as possible.” She added that Fantagraphics will move the publication of both titles to February 2017.
D&Q publisher Peggy Burns said her house has one title on board a Hanjin ship, Seth’s Dominion, a hardcover/DVD that documents the work of the acclaimed cartoonist, Seth. Burns said the shipment was been delayed, but is still expected to arrive.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Hanjin Shipping Company operates a total of 97 container ships, 37 of which it owns. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in Korea in August, and is under a court order to sell the ships it owns in order to raise funds for its creditors. Hanjin currently has about 14 container ships stranded at sea.