Reducing Returns

July 2006
by Doug Shidell

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In “Controlling Returns to
Preserve Profits” (PMA
Independent, June), I showed that a 30 percent return rate with
damaged books was a money-losing proposition for my book Bicycle Vacation Guide,
and that return rates of 10 percent with damaged books or 15 percent with books
in good condition mean a profit margin so slim that my business is better off
without the sales.


As a small publisher selling
through a distributor, my only option when faced with a sale that is likely to
produce high returns is to turn it down. But that’s the publishing equivalent
of refusing to serve a customer at a restaurant, and it would be better for
both of us to arrange for more productive behavior patterns.


To do that, it’s necessary to
clear up two book-industry myths.


Without returns privileges, bookstores couldn’t afford to take chances on new


Let me introduce you to Ben
Miller. Ben works in the cube next to me when I’m at my part-time job in the
bicycle industry. He’s a full-time buyer responsible for several thousand SKUs,
and buying bicycle books is a small part of his job. His items have lead times
that range from one day (for books he orders from me) to three months.


Ben is responsible for keeping
small replacement parts in stock for new component…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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