Shop Thoughts: How to Prepare for a Strike


Every day here at the Book Shop, our UPS driver delivers on average, seven to eight boxes.  Most of these contain books (which, as you can imagine, are often quite heavy).  New books get published every Tuesday and not a week goes by that we don’t have these new books on order.  

We also place two to three orders with our wholesaler each week, mostly consisting of special orders for customers and restocking bestsellers and other quickly moving books that we want back on our shelves as soon as possible.

We restock other books directly with publishers every couple of weeks.  In addition to the books, we receive stock shipments from various stationery and other small gift suppliers.

We work with dozens and dozens of vendors.  I have an email in my inbox from every single one of them right now reminding me that in the event of a UPS strike, deliveries may slow significantly.  

The Teamsters Union and UPS are currently in contract negotiations; if they don’t come to an agreement by July 31, almost 340,000 UPS workers will go on strike.  FedEx, USPS, and other carriers will attempt to pick up the slack, but they most certainly won’t be able to handle the volume.

This will impact small businesses like mine in various ways—inventory shipments will be delayed to us, of course, but our shipments to customers will also be affected.  The book industry has its own specific concerns.  I’ve placed book orders for the author events we’re hosting in August and September much earlier than I normally would.  I’m reordering bestselling books in much higher quantities than usual.

Fortunately, we have a dry basement with plenty of storage space. 

With new books released each week, authors with titles coming out in August have every right to be concerned about their books reaching customers on time.  Publishers are responding by shipping many of those titles at the end of July and asking retailers to hold stock until the book’s intended publication date.

There are a million moving pieces in a small bookstore like ours—actually, around 6,000 unique ISBNs—and keeping track of future release dates for incoming stock is no small feat.

Thankfully two of the biggest books of the summer—Somebody’s Fool by Richard Russo and Tom Lake by Ann Patchett—will arrive just ahead of any potential strike, publishing July 25 and August 1, respectively.  

James McBride’s new novel, The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, is set to release on August 8, as is a highly anticipated debut novel called Shark Heart by Emily Habeck and the newest mystery by Lisa Jewell, None of This is True, amongst many others.

On August 15, we’re looking forward to Alice Hoffman’s newest novel, The Invisible Hour, featuring a cult in western Massachusetts and the power of books (and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s in particular), and the debut novel The Great Transition by Nick Fuller Googins, in which a utopian future is not quite what it seems.

And should the strike persist into September (insert weeping emoji here)? Consider placing a preorder now for the newest titles from Zadie Smith, Stephen King, Lauren Groff, and Sy Montgomery. There are other ways consumers can prepare:

—Plan ahead: In addition to pre-ordering new books, you know you’ll want this August and September, consider ordering your book club picks and the kids’ summer reading books sooner rather than later. Any really specific needs will almost definitely be hard to fulfill quickly should the UPS workers go on strike.

—Now might be a good time to discover audiobooks! Sign up for a membership with Libro.FM, which allows you to purchase audiobooks from the bookstore of your choice (including The Book Shop of Beverly Farms!)—all delivered virtually to your phone or other listening device.

—Have patience with all the small businesses in your life! 

The good news?

If you’re just looking for a good book to read, we’ll always have those in stock and are happy to make recommendations, and if you’re fortunate enough to live nearby, you can stop in to pick it up, no shipping required. 


ups, earth grocery store, james mcbride, author, driver, wholesaler, tom lake, lisa jewell, western massachusetts, stephen king, lauren groff, zadie smith, richard russo, alice hoffman, teamsters union, nathaniel hawthorne