Book Returns

This unique “split” ownership of a book includes a concept foreign to most other industries: bookstores can return unsold books to the publisher. This serves as an incentive for cautious booksellers to purchase more stock, but also creates an additional logistical complication for the publisher.

Technically, the books are sold on consignment, which means that any of those that don’t sell can be returned to the publisher for credit. If, for whatever reason, a particular book does not sell well, bookstores across the country will ship all the unsold copies back to the publisher’s warehouse at the beginning of each year, where they stay for a time or are remaindered.

So the next time you pick up a book, consider the number of miles it’s traveled and the many hands it’s passed through to tell you its story. You might even enjoy the story a little more!

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