Book return system being questioned

Worried about their industry’s carbon footprint, publishers in Britain are considering tossing the sale-or-return system by which they have traditionally supplied bookstores with books and going to a practice of firm sale, at least with older titles.

“Can we really justify sending books all over the country, only to send them back on the same journey to be destroyed?” Victoria Barnsley, CEO of HarperCollins UK, recently asked in the trade journal The Bookseller.

Her counterpart at Hachette UK, Tim Hely Hutchinson, agrees. “It’s pretty silly to send backlist shuttling back and forth – it’s a waste of time, money and resources.”