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View Full Version : A question for those with knowledge of Returns...how does it work?



james1611
05-12-2006, 07:17 PM
experts please give us some idea on how "returns" work.

when a publisher offers returns...does that mean that the bookstore sends the books they have purchased, back to the publisher and they "buy them back"??

if they are having to buy them back...at what price are they buying them back?

Please give an example with say a book at $10.00 retail or something so we can get a picture of the process!!

Thanks,
Rev. james

acousticgroupie
02-07-2007, 07:36 AM
i wish someone would answer this!

blackpen
02-07-2007, 12:43 PM
probably the same price. i think there was a thread on returns somewhere else

CaoPaux
02-07-2007, 08:40 PM
Bookstores order books on credit (technically consignment, IIRC). Returned books are accounted against the next order (at the same discount). Money doesn't change hands until a book is sold to a customer.

ETA: This answer presumes we're talking about a commercial publisher.

veinglory
02-07-2007, 08:54 PM
Returns also need to be allowed over a long period, not just the first few months.

acousticgroupie
02-07-2007, 11:05 PM
so when you go to a mom and pop store you give them the books and then you come back in X weeks. if none sell, you take them back, correct? where does the 40% come in?

i have to call BnT and INgram to see how that works. maybe i'm missing something. i knew getting them as wholesalers was good but now i have a book and i need to start the sales process.

almost a book. have advanced proofs:)

jchines
02-07-2007, 11:29 PM
so when you go to a mom and pop store you give them the books and then you come back in X weeks. if none sell, you take them back, correct? where does the 40% come in?

For this example, I'm assuming you're doing everything yourself, and not working through a distributor.

For the sake of simple math, your book has a cover price of $10, and you sold two. Say you come in X weeks later and take back everything that hasn't sold.

The store hands you $12. $6 per book. (40% discount from your cover price of $10). They sold both books for $20, so they made $8 on the deal.

That's my understanding, at any rate. Hopefully someone will correct me if I don't know what I'm talking about :tongue

spinnerin
02-10-2007, 02:53 AM
When I worked in music distribution, which has similar return policies, we kept a rolling total of the returns claimed, reconciled that against our warehouse records, and adjusted the customer's invoice accordingly.

This is how we did it:
* The other company would place an order, and depending on their credit we'd invoice them with payment due 30 or 60 days later (some places had really bad credit, and they paid COD).
* After they got their order, they'd sell whatever they could, and would return other things that had been sitting on the shelf too long.
* When it came time to pay the invoice, they'd subtract the amount of the returned items.
* My job was to verify that those return claims matched the actual items we received back from them.
* If the amount of credit claimed was substantially larger than the value of the actual returned items, I contacted them and asked for an adjustment on their next payment. Some companies were nicer about this than others.

I should add that the cover price of the item isn't really a factor here. If we sold the item at 40% off retail for a total of $3 and they return the item, the credit is for that same $3.

acousticgroupie
02-12-2007, 11:45 PM
very helpful. i have distrib through ingram and b&t. but i think i have to approach them...no one's selling it for me. i think i need to do something there. iUni's site sucks as far as this stuff...

so i guess i can work with stores on an individual basis like, that, too.

citymouse
02-13-2007, 12:08 AM
By iUni I assume you mean iUniverse. Your note that iUni sucks is spot on. You will find that these PSAs work from a script. If you ask anything that's not in their scripted answer sheet that short circuit. I do see they now have a 1-800 phone support service that was not in place when I signed up with them.
I just looked at their options packages and I couldn't find a "returns option". Are you sure you are entitled to expect returns on your book?
C


very helpful. i have distrib through ingram and b&t. but i think i have to approach them...no one's selling it for me. i think i need to do something there. iUni's site sucks as far as this stuff...

so i guess i can work with stores on an individual basis like, that, too.

spinnerin
02-13-2007, 01:18 AM
very helpful. i have distrib through ingram and b&t. but i think i have to approach them...no one's selling it for me. i think i need to do something there. iUni's site sucks as far as this stuff...

so i guess i can work with stores on an individual basis like, that, too.

The difficulty if it's a POD book is that you would have to buy the books in advance, sell them at a discount, and then be willing to take back any returns, which could be every book you send to the store. All out of your own pocket. I don't think you could make money this way unless you can get the books from your printer/publisher at less than half the cover price. You might be able to sell on consignment at a smaller local store, but even then they'll probably take 40% of the cover price.

Unless there's a POD company that's willing to do the discount/return contract themselves? But that seems unlikely, because POD isn't very economical unless you're doing individual direct retail sales and don't think you'll ever sell more than about a hundred copies.

This is what Lulu says on their website: "Because of the production expense of print on demand manufacturing, Lulu cannot cancel orders, accept returns or provide refunds on these products."

citymouse
02-13-2007, 01:46 AM
[Quote]Unless there's a POD company that's willing to do the discount/return contract themselves? But that seems unlikely, because POD isn't very economical unless you're doing individual direct retail sales and don't think you'll ever sell more than about a hundred copies.]

Author House does but they charge (when I last checked) a whopping $750 for the opion. This of course is a total rip off because brick and mortar stores (especially Borders and B&N) won't stock them due to the low discounts so there's nothing to return anyway!

The reality is simple and I can't understand why those looking to POD don't get it and remember it: POD books sell through online catalogs like Amazon.com. Getting POD books into stores is difficult at best and sometimes impossible. This has nothing to do with the quality of the books themselves (much improved over the years) nor the quality of the writing. It comes down to money. If a writer can live with online sales and not feel cheated out fame and fortune, then all well and fine. But if one wants to sign a stack of books in Manhattan and end up on TV modestly accepting kudos for the book of the century then POD is not the way to go.
C

James D. Macdonald
02-13-2007, 07:03 AM
You want to know about "Returns"?

Drop up to the Uncle Jim Undiluted thread (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7987) and search on the word "returns." I've talked about 'em more than once.

acousticgroupie
02-26-2007, 01:07 AM
yah, i mean it's fine. i chose iUni to publish a non-fiction book to sell mostly online and in seminars. i am not counting on the book browser population but will try to push some books to locals.

maestrowork
02-26-2007, 05:02 AM
experts please give us some idea on how "returns" work.

when a publisher offers returns...does that mean that the bookstore sends the books they have purchased, back to the publisher and they "buy them back"??

if they are having to buy them back...at what price are they buying them back?


From what I understand, book stores (BN, for example) send the books back for credits. Book stores like BN operate mostly on credits without cash involved, so the publishers don't "buy" anything back and no money is exchanged until later. Stores, wholesalers, etc. pay the publishers periodically, and they calculate returns in their proceeds. It's about balance sheets.