What to Do About Returns

February 2006
by A PMA Roundtable

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When we asked PMA members to
imagine that a genie had granted them the power to abolish returns, some
publishers said they’d exercise that power in a heartbeat and some said they’d
refuse to use it because the side effects would be unpleasant. Selections from
these responses ran in the January issue.


A sampling from a third
category of responses appears below. As you’ll see, the publishers in this
group suggest alternatives other than abolishing returns or maintaining current
policies, and several of them report on how they’re already minimizing or
eliminating returns of their own titles.



Alter Incentives

I’m both a retail bookseller and a
publisher (the former led me to the latter). For a small independent store like
mine, abolishing returns probably wouldn’t have drastic consequences. We try to
buy smart to start with, and we tend to hold onto books longer than the
industry averages.

My store’s returns rates aren’t
real high now—except when publishers give us incentives or structure
terms that lead us to take more copies of books than we otherwise would. These
situations arise more often than you might think, and I see them as a m

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