Map and RPGs

Wed Jun 5 15:47:23 PDT 2002

Frank Mayhar wrote:
> Matthew Hunter wrote:
> > It's certainly not lower prices.  Paperbacks have been going UP.
> Um, yeah.  Sigh.
> > I have heard it expressed that publishers are having trouble making money on
> > small-run paperbacks, and thus are reluctant to publish them.  They are pushing
> > to either move their authors to hardcover (stepping up) or cease publishing them
> > at all (stepping down), whereas in the past it was possible to stay in the middle
> > (midlist).
> One word:  Remaindering.  A pernicious practice that is one of the things
> killing the paperback industry.  (Remaindering is where a store can buy lots
> of extra copies of a paperback, then if they don't sell, strip the cover off
> and send them back to the publisher for full credit.  Books can get stripped
> straight out of the original box, without even hitting the shelves.)

Erm.  What you have described is indeed part of the book distribution
system -- generally, returns are possible for most books if they don't
sell; for paperbacks, the cost of returning the books is higher than
they parties want to bear, so PBs are stripped and everything but the
covers discarded.  (HCs can normally be returned as well, but need to be
returned entire.)  The returns system, IIRC, has been in place since the
thirties.  However, it is not remaindering.

Remaindering is when the publisher (or distributor, but usually the
publisher) decides that it's  costing it more to store copies of a
(relatively) slow-moving book than they're likely to make (inventory
space being equal to money), and sells the books in large lots at a
small fraction of their cover price for resale at a much marked down
cover price.

There are various modern accounting and sales practices which affect the
threshold at which remaindering kicks in, and practices vary by
publisher.  But it's been around for some time (at least since the

James Burbidge			jamesandmary.burbidge at sympatico.ca