Posted in Demystifying publishing

What Happens to Books that Don’t Sell? Demystifying Publishing Part 7 with @ReadwithRiver

“What Happens to Books that Don’t Sell? It’s Not Good.”
Books Shall Gather no Dust. A book launches. Retailers have ordered copies from publishers, the publishers are paid. But what happens if no one buys that book from the retailer? New books can be returned to publishers if they’re not purchased with approx 3-12 months after the launch (depending on the contract.) The window for success or fail is tiny!
The Death of a book, Destroyed. Unsold books that are returned to the publisher, are usually immediately sent to be destroyed, turned into a liquid pulp. That pulp is then reused to make other things, most notably pulp fiction books.
Alternatives to Destruction? The publisher can accept the return, check each book for damage, scan it back into the warehouse and it can sit in the publisher’s warehouse taking up space in hopes someone else may order it. But this is costly, and wasteful compared to pulping. Sometimes the unwanted stock is sold at a loss to places like BookOutlet (which is why their prices are so cheap!) There is a cost to cheap books, you the consumer however are just not the ones paying it. The publisher, author, and all of the people involved with the book are the ones to pay.
The History of Pulping: A long history of returns. As early as the 17th century book publishers were ripping apart pieces of unsold books to create new books. To this day the pulp from destroyed books is used to create paper to…MAKE MORE BOOKS!
All’s well that ends well? Recycling does not make this okay. Huge amounts of waste in creating millions of books a year, shipping them back and forth, just to be pulped to be turned into more books. Huge loss of profit for the publishers with real consequences for the employees who rely on them. Disaster for the author/illustrator who now have to carry around this commercial failure for the rest of their careers. Publishers see those sales records and are scared to reinvest.
5 Ways to Support a New Book! Visibility and word of mouth are the biggest factors to commercial success of a book. If a book isn’t visible no one is going to buy it. 1. Leave reviews on Good Reads, Amazon, Indigo, etc. 2. Request it at your local library and school libraries. 3. Talk about it with your personal friends and on Social Media. Word of mouth has power. 4. Purchase a copy for yourself if you can, Pre-order preferably. 5. Give books for gift giving occasions.

Further Articles/Sources about this topic:

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1995-02-05-bk-28123-story.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/mar/19/fiction.stephenmoss

Where Books Go To Die

https://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/houghton-mifflin-harcourt-jonah-lehrer-2012-8/