images.jpegPublishing Perspectives has an article about the bargain, or remainder, book business. Though not directly related to ebooks I found it most interesting. It discusses the four types of bargain books: remainders, hurts or returns, promotional books and white sales. I didn’t know this about “promotional books” – they are often coffee table books which are reprints and have a high perceived value. They carry a false high “retail” price and so look like a bargain when they are “marked down”. The article is here. According to the article publishers don’t like to discuss it, but remainders are a very profitable part of the business.

The ebook tie in comes in a second article which says: But as the industry moves closer and closer to digital distribution of books — maybe not this year, maybe not the next, but soon — will this ultimately choke off the supply of titles that feed the remainder dealers? It certainly could.


  1. The only way ebooks will kill the remainder book business is if ebooks get priced below remaindered book prices. John Sargent’s made it pretty clear that MacMillan won’t price ebooks that way, he won’t even commit to pricing ebooks at or below the price of the lowest cost retail paper edition. I presume the rest of the big publishers won’t, either.

  2. The threat to remainder book sales is not e-books but print-on-demand which prints only to fulfill standing orders. Print-on-demand actually prospers in the context of screen books. With large print and screen retailers early e-book sales quickly indicates print production sales.

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