December 12, 2013
There are several reasons why a book might end up being remaindered - the publishers may have overestimated how many copies of the book they were going to sell, and been left with many bulky hardback books in their warehouse taking up valuable storage
space. It could also be that there is another edition of the book available, for example in paperback, and the hardback version is no longer selling as well.
This does not mean that a book is necessarily terrible if it is remaindered, as with many other sales oriented products, it is impossible to predict just how popular a book is going to be- if one book sells a certain amount of copies, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the author’s follow up will sell as many copies. However, publishers tend to stick to this whilst making their sales predictions, and if a book fails to sell as well as its predecessor they can be left with a lot of left over books taking up their storage space. Unlike other industries, if a book does not sell as well then book sellers can return these unsold books in order to change them for other titles.
Selling these returned and left over books at a little over, or in some cases even under, cost price is an easy way for publishers to recoup some of the money spent on publishing, shipping and storage costs. If a book still fails to sell once it has been remaindered, then eventually the book will be pulped, allowing it to be recycled and turned into other books- yes this reduces costs for the next run of books, but it is essentially a waste and it is much more preferable for the publisher (and the self esteem of the author!) for the book to be remaindered and sold discounted than for it to be pulped. Some authors may be disappointed with the fact that their book has been remaindered, however they fail to take into account the fact that this brings their work to a whole new audience that might not necessarily have picked up their book before.
If the person who purchased their remaindered book enjoys it, they are more likely to buy other titles written by them too, ensuring that their books may never be remaindered again if they have developed this whole new fan base! These reduced prices mean customers are more likely to take a punt on an author they’ve never heard of than they would be willing to had the book been full price.
There will never be a perfect way of predicting how many copies of a book will sell, so there will always be remaindered books to be sold. This is the perfect way to discover new authors, so don’t walk straight past a ‘discount books’ sign next time you see one- take a look at them, you never know what you might find!