I am writing to apologise for both lack of service and communication over the past few weeks. I’m not even really sure where to begin, because much of what has gone on in that time simply defies credibility.
On the morning of last Monday, 4 October, I was informed that our distributor, Orca Book Services, had been locked out of their warehouse following a dispute with their landlord. Orca and their partner companies service more than 100 publishers. They also hold about 95% of all our stock. In effect we and other publishers were unable to trade because of their dispute.
It subsequently emerged that as well as not being able to access their warehouse, a backlog of orders were marked as processed when in fact they had not been. This has resulted in some cases of customers being incorrectly notified that their books had been dispatched when this was not the case. I am sorry about this: it is not a standard that is in any way acceptable.
I’ve spent most of the past 10 days trying to unpick this issue, and have been greatly helped by our trade body, the Independent Publishers Guild (IPG), who have advocated on our behalf (Orca’s Chief Operating Officer and owners have refused to communicate directly with us or any other clients I have encountered).
Until today I’ve not been able to properly communicate with customers because I haven’t been told the full extent of the situation and I’m still in the dark on many matters.
However, I can confirm that the warehouse has now reopened and I have demanded that all of our website orders are treated as an absolute priority. I have also had to put back publication of two of our titles, Boys from the Blue Stuff and Gladiator, until the end of this month. This should ensure that those people who have ordered directly from us are served first, which is as it should be.
The situation has been probably the most difficult and stressful of the company’s 12 year history, because we’ve been left entirely in the dark and utterly powerless.
I appreciate that some of you may have ordered as gifts or for holidays and may need to cancel; if that’s the case, please drop me a line and I’ll arrange that.
Many thanks for all your loyalty and patience – I can assure you that the maxim – “The best things come to those that wait” – is true in this case and that both Boys From the Blue Stuff and Gladiator are brilliant books and will be enjoyed.