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Barnes & Noble CEO Looks Into Ending Traditional Return Policy

Steve Riggio, CEO of Barnes and Noble, stated today during BN’s first quarter conference call that Barnes and Noble is open to alternative solutions to deal with unsold books. Currently mass markets are stripped and thrown away with the covers being sent back to the publisher for credit. I’m not sure how trade and hardcover book returns are managed. Riggio says that the current return policy is expensive and that a new solution could be obtained in a year or so.

I think its important to note that Riggio is not advocating the end of returns as the Publishers’ Weekly title might suggest but an end to the traditional practice.

Via PW.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ann Bruce
    May 22, 2008 @ 14:11:42

    Trade-sized books are returned in saleable to the publisher, which is why many e-publishers go that route.

    No idea about hardcovers. Although, I do see hardcovers deeply discounted (~75%) at bookstores after the mass market paperbacks come out.

  2. Tilly Greene
    May 22, 2008 @ 15:19:54

    Both trade and hardcover are boxed up and returned to the publisher, that is if the bookseller doesn’t want to put them on a sale table and save themselves the postage.

  3. Heather Loy
    May 22, 2008 @ 16:49:59

    I worked at B.Dalton/Barnes & Noble for a number of years before becoming a librarian. When I worked there, most trade & hardcover books, as well as other merchandise was shipped back to the publisher and/or to the B&N warehouse. Paperback books, most calendars, and magazines were “stripped” and covers sent to publishers.

  4. Angelle
    May 22, 2008 @ 22:41:11

    When I was working at bookstores, it just takes a LONG time to check the entire store and pull copies as needed. One of the store I worked for gave us a scanner and we had to scan every title and return the ones we had too many of.

    Very time-consuming.

  5. DS
    May 23, 2008 @ 18:36:39

    Books returned to the publisher are usually sold by the pallet as remainders or hurts. They are usually marked in some way so they won’t be purchased and then returned to a bookstore for full credit. Many Outlet Malls have bookstores that only deal in remainders and hurts at very deep discount. I always wondered how much the author would be paid when a book is sold this way. I used to buy from Hamilton Books and there was one place online that I used to have send me huge boxes of hardbacks–I believe they thought I was a bookstore!

  6. darrell reid
    Mar 10, 2009 @ 13:10:14

    I’m a paying customer at Barnes and Noble and there is an email going around showing President Obama and his wife compared to monkeys. I do not believe that the CEO of Barnes and Nobles is aware of what is going on. The infraction happened at the miracle mile store in Florida. So far this email has been circulating at light speed. Request that B/N contact that Florida Store and send out an apology to those that have seen this tastless oversight. Thereby B/N 10s of thousands of dollars.


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