In the world of publishing, a remainder is a book sold at a significantly discounted price because it has not been sold and is no longer needed by the publisher. Publishers return unsold copies of books to wholesalers or sell them to a remainder dealer; either way, the books get sold in large quantities at vastly reduced prices – often well below cost. Most remaindered books are simply because the publisher has returned them to the wholesaler; a book might also be remaindered if it’s out of print – if the publisher is selling off all remaining copies of something that will no longer be produced. Occasionally books are remaindered because they are damaged, but this constitutes only a small proportion.
In the book industry, the term “remainder” has another meaning. It can describe the small number of books from a print run that was not sold to retailers or libraries; for example, “I bought a remainder of that book.” Publishers sell these remaining books to remainder dealers at meager prices. Most remaining books are unsold copies that publishers have returned to wholesalers.
The concept of remainder holds excellent significance within books and publishing. In its simplest terms, a remainder denotes any unsold copies of a book that are subsequently returned to the publisher by the bookseller. Most books find their market and are ultimately purchased by readers through conventional channels, including various bookstores; however, quite a few are also sold via online retailers, libraries, and elsewhere. Furthermore, many titles end up being remaindered — that is, sold off cheaply by publishers to clear out stock.
The role of the remainder is significant in the book industry. It enables publishers to dispose of stock that isn’t shifting and permits booksellers to sell at significantly reduced prices. Often, remaindered books are sold for a fraction of their original retail price – an irresistible proposition for consumers – which provides publishers and booksellers with vital income.