Readers Respond

Last week we published a story with the headline, “With Print Book Sales Stabilized, Return Rate Lowers,” which churned up the longtime debate over the value—or wastefulness—of booksellers’ ability to return unsold books to distributors and publishers. Agent Richard Curtis and bookseller Peter Glassman debated:

These so-called “stabilized” returns are no cause for celebration. It still means that publishers have to print two copies of a mass market paperback to sell one, four of a hardcover to sell three, and five copies of a trade paperback to sell four. Performance like that in any other industry would be cause for alarm, but we’ve come to accept it complacently in an industry that has driven hundreds of viable publishers out of business thanks to the cash-draining evil of a system based on returns. Even the lesson of an e-book revolution based on zero returns and of royalties based on net receipts instead of list price does not seem to have had any impact on our thinking.—Richard Curtis

Note: Curtis’s comment has been edited to incorporate corrected math from a second comment he made.

You’re not taking into account the returns from events that so many booksellers mention in the article. Those books are not remaindered or destroyed—they’re usually returned to inventory and then shipped out and sold by another bookseller. While I have no idea what percentage event returns are for the industry as a whole, I know for stores that have an active event schedule like we do, event returns can account for 50%–80% of returns.... The one thing everyone in the industry seems to agree on is that it’s better to have over-ordered for an event and have returns than to under order and lose sales.—Peter Glassman

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Tip Sheet

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Religion BookLine

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Global Rights Report

International hot book properties include a sex-education book by Chusita, a YouTuber from Spain.

Children’s Bookshelf

Veterans of American Greetings and launch Peeko Press, a publisher of illustrated hardcover storybooks, at BEA.

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Week Ahead

PW editorial director Jim Milliot talks with Copyright Clearance Center’s Christopher Kenneally about the ups and downs of Book Expo America’s move to Chicago.

More to Come

An interview with Terence Irvins, graphic novel buyer for the New York City branch of global chain Books Kinokuniya.

PW Radio

Ron Miscavige discusses his new book, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me (St. Martin’s). PW’s Midwest correspondent Claire Kirch provides a live report from the show floor of BEA.



The best part of bookselling: becoming part of a child’s world.

The most-read review on last week was Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (Harper).

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