The Return of Returns
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What’s the problem? According to a recent article in The New York Times, upwards of 30% of books being sold into trade bookstores today are returned to the sender-for full credit-and the number is rising. The cost of physically handling billions of dollars worth of books, and processing the attendant paperwork, is staggering-for the publisher, the bookseller, the distributor, the wholesaler. And returns play hell with the publisher’s cashflow, inventory management, and bottom line. Nobody profits from this revolving-door policy-except, perhaps, UPS, RPS, and other freight carriers. Tackling this problem has been an on-again, off-again effort by a number of groups over the years, with no real progress.
So what is PMA doing about it?“Book Industry Returns”-our in-depth study of the history, magnitude, and impacts of this odd and unproductive practice-is available as a pdf file on the PMA Web site and in hard copy from the PMA office. It’s free to PMA members; for non-members, the cost is $25.
To bring attention to the report and stimulate discussion throughout the publishing industry, we held a press conference in New York in April, at which Tom Woll, who wrote it, presented an overview of the problem and suggested some remedies. A lively-call it fiery-discussion developed, in which almost every aspect of the well-researched report was questioned.
After that we ran a panel at Book Expo America-more widely attended, with more broad-ranging and…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).
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