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Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Musings - Book Returns

If I had a widgit that I wanted to sell to a store, it wouldn't make any difference to me whether the store was able to sell it to one of their customers. Once they bought it from me, I could record the sale as final.

But books are different.

It all started during the Depression of the 1930's. No one was buying books because nobody could afford them. They were too busy trying to find jobs, hold onto their home, and put food on the table. Books became a luxury item.

So the publishing industry instituted the idea of selling books on consignment.

Every book in every book store in America is there on consignment. It means that if the book store doesn't sell it to the consumer, they can send it back.

I once knew an author who won a very prestigious, international book award for his self-published book and promptly received an order for 100,000 copies. Not understanding the industry, he mortgaged his house to pay for the copies and sat back to watch the money roll in.

Six months later, he received 99,950 copies back. AND he was charged for the return postage.

Selling on consignment was supposed to be a temporary measure, one that should have gone away when the Depression ended. And yet, here we are, eighty years later, still doing the same thing.

Is it time for books to be sold the way everything else in American stores are sold?