Explanation Behind Stripping Unsold Books

Borders bookstore is coming under fire for stripping and trashing unsold books (Trashgate). It’s a practice that’s been around for years. The reason for writing this post is because if you’ve ever been curious as to why bookstores strip unsold books and trash them, here it is:

Why Won’t Borders Donate Their Soon-To-Be-Trashed Books? (The Huffington Post, Dated Dec 11, 2009)

Yet there is surprisingly little consumer awareness of how the publishing industry’s outdated business model results in unsold books literally being thrown away. By shipping books to retailers on consignment terms, thus allowing the return of unsold merchandise, the publishing industry operates unlike all other manufacturers. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of books are returned by bookstores annually. Between 65 and 95 percent of returned books are pulped – destroyed by publishers.

But it costs money to ship returned books back. Thus was born the practice of stripping covers from books, only sending back the covers, and book stores themselves destroying the remainder of the unsold books. Dumpstering happens every day in large chain book stores. But how many customers and citizens know the truth?

Obviously, not very many. And it’s sounds so antiquated, too. Just to throw this out there, with ebooks, if publishers were to, how to put it, adopt this format, they wouldn’t have to worry so much about costly returns but then that goes beyond the scope of this article.

In the end we all agree that’s it wasteful and awful when so many others could benefit from this situation (donating to libraries has been mentioned numerous times). But there’s a reason behind all this madness but that doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to agree with it.

I agree that this is not the bookstore’s fault, however, so the ire needs to be re-directed. They are only following procedure in order to get their money back. This is standard procedure for any business that has a product that didn’t move off the shelf within a certain amount of time. That’s business 101.

This topic & discussion was brought to my attention by Babbling About Books and photo credit goes to SpecialKRB

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3 Responses to Explanation Behind Stripping Unsold Books

  1. janicu says:

    This reminds me of when I worked at a bakery. Soooo many trashed donuts, and they wouldn’t let the employees have them (worried about stealing issues), or give them to charity (worried about lawsuits about giving away old food). It sucks but there’s a reason it just goes in the trash.

  2. Avid Reader says:

    Yep. I was having this discussion with some friends. Restaurants for fast food places do this all the time (throw out food). And another thing as to why they don’t donate these books – this is a business. They didn’t make a profit off of these books so they have to be destroyed.

  3. Roy Poh says:

    I am doing a yearly project to save unsold books, especially those expensive ones that are used as “browsing copy”. No one will buy those books as their conditions will be the worst. I get bookstores to donate these books to me and I invite artists and designers to “repackage” these books. The results are exhibited. Check out http://www.browsingcopy.com Series 02 is on the way!!

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