Delivering the goods

Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door—Why Everything Has Changed About How and What We Buy

by Christopher Mims, Harper Business, 2021

Sometimes, writing a book feels like a fool’s errand. It is a long, inflexible project, planned years in advance and must fit around existing jobs and publishers’ schedules. Writing something that lands with prescience requires unusual foresight and often a big dollop of luck. This process is even trickier when the subject is fast moving. Christopher Mims, a tech columnist at the Wall Street Journal, attempts such a thing with Arriving Today, a detailed and dedicated explainer about the logistics industry.

After Mims has spent years reporting from ships, ports, trucks, and warehouses, the pandemic hits and everything is upended. As Mims discovers, “a period of furious activity…became the new normal for the entire industry.” Clearly, the pandemic had to be accounted for in the book. The problem is that, as yet, the firms in the eye of the storm—Amazon, FedEx, UPS—are still figuring out what the post-pandemic future looks like. Arriving Today is peppered with references to the disaster to appear current, but these only have the effect of underlining how much of the industry’s future is unknown. Beyond highlighting that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce, it is difficult for Mims, or anyone else, to look into the future with much clarity.

Read the original article here