Big Changes

November 2005
by Jan Nathan, Executive Director, PMA

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I travel a lot. I probably
spend as much time getting to places as I spend in meetings once I get there.
Over the past year, I began to notice something that is happening at each
airport I visit. The W.H. Smith stores were first, but now it seems that every
bookstore with an airport location has a new offer with definite appeal for
many. It’s called something like, Read Me Now; Return Me Later.

The basic concept is that you
purchase a book at one location, read it on your trip or even at home, and then
return the book to any airport bookstore—not necessarily the one where
you bought it—and get a 50 percent credit to apply toward the purchase of
another book.

At first, this sounds like a great
deal. For the customer, definitely. But for the publisher and author, I wonder.

Say I purchase a copy of John
Irving’s latest book for $29.95 at the XYZ Airport; return that book to the ABC
Airport and receive a credit of $14.97 toward my purchase of another title.
What happens to the John Irving book I bought first? Does it go back into
circulation as a used book? Or, if I have been very neat while reading and
carrying it, does it return to the shelf as new? When it sells again, what
price will it sell at? The original $29.95, or less than that? And, if less,
how much less?

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