Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Borders Goes Non-Returnable for HarperStudio

Unlike some other people, I don't think this Wall Street Journal article is a sign of the impending publishing Utopia descending on us, but it is an interesting development: that Borders is accepting books from Bob Miller's new HarperStudio imprint on a non-returnable basis.

Interesting thing #1: that it's Borders. (Probably because the additional discount appeals to their current drive-traffic-through-special-offers mentality, though they've also returned a lot this year and instituted a much tighter inventory policy.)

Interesting thing #2: the size of the discount, reported at 58% to 63% by the WSJ.

Obligatory misleading quote: "People in the industry estimate that between 30% and 40% of all consumer adult titles are eventually returned to their publishers."

Nope, they don't. They estimate that between 30% and 40% of all consumer adult units are eventually returned. If there were only returns on 30-40% of all titles, getting rid of returns wouldn't mean much -- that would mean 60-70% of all individual titles sold through completely at retail.

Final thought: Borders will, of course, order HarperStudio books conservatively. (And those of us in the business know that a whole new definition of "conservatively" has arisen in the past few months.) I'll also be interested to see what Borders does to the excess stock of HarperStudio's first big dog -- it's no shame; all publishers have books that radically underperform.

1 comment:

Tim Pratt said...

If things keep going so badly for Borders, they may be burning copies of that first HarperStudio dog for heat...

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