Returns are books sent back by booksellers because they are damaged, outdated, or unsold—often for reasons such as damage, obsoleteness, or unsoldness—with publishers crediting the bookseller.
Returns are an unavoidable part of doing business in the book business. Though they can be frustrating for publishers, booksellers, authors, and customers, returns help ensure books of superior quality that satisfy customers.
Damaged books and unsold books are the two primary forms of returns. Damaged books typically involve physical damage such as torn covers or water damage; unsold books were returned due to being unsold within an agreed-upon timeframe.
Publishers often view returns as inconvenient; they must process them, credit the bookseller for returning them, and possibly replace the book if necessary. However, they’re an integral part of doing business – helping ensure customers only purchase top-quality books.
The process is also integral to the book industry, enabling publishers to recoup their investments when their book doesn’t sell as expected. Booksellers who return unsold copies to publishers receive a refund that helps offset any losses they might have experienced and keeps inventory fresh and up-to-date by replacing outdated or unsold books with brand-new titles.
Returns seem like an unnecessary part of book industry life. However, they serve an integral purpose by guaranteeing high-quality books are published while helping booksellers remain viable businesses.