Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So, I was just wondering…

woman wondering

This is a day late but Wednesday I was on the run with appointments and errands so I didn’t get any blogging done. It worked out even better though because I came across a disturbing post from Kate at the Neverending Shelf that needs to be shared. She wrote about information that she came across that was connected to the closing of 200 Walden Books stores. Apparently they are disposing of unsold books by ripping off their covers and throwing them away. Sadly, this isn’t uncommon in the publishing world. Writer Erik Olse has an article about the same topic (originally posted 12/11/09) in the Huffington Post (1/21/10) -              Known in the bookselling industry as "dumpstering," this method of book disposal is standard practice not only at Borders-owned stores, but at many other chain book stores and mass retailers.

Over the years I have come across books without their covers but I didn’t pay much attention to why they were that way. I had no idea that this happened to unsold books! While I understand how expensive it can be to ship them back to the publishers there must be a better way! It such a tragic waste.

So, I was just wondering, have you heard of this practice before? Do you think it’s the best solution to the problem or is there another answer? I’m so curious to hear what you have to say!


  1. I had not. But I saw this post too. My sentiments echo yours.

  2. Before yesterday, I hadn't heard of this and it just ticks me off. I don't see why they can't just donate at this point. It's not like they're going to make any money by throwing them out. I don't know about businesses but when a household donates you can take a tax credit for it. What they're doing is just plain wasteful and so much stuff if being thrown away other people can use.

  3. This is appalling!! That's the only word I can think of. Think how many nursing homes, hospitals, veterans groups or others could use these books. I thought they were just sold to wholesalers or clearance places. There is just too much waste in this country in general.

  4. I HAD heard of this before and from my understanding, it's a legal requirement. I may be wrong, but I'm almost positive I heard about that legality once.

    Also, if you will notice, on some books on the copyright page, it actually says something to the effect, "If you purchased this book without a cover, the publisher was not paid for the copy and this is a crime."
    Obviously that's not word for word but I am too toasty warm in my snuggie to get up and look at an actual book.
    Anyway, all this to say that it SUCKS, it really really sucks and I do think there should be a better way...most importantly, SHIP THEM BACK. Heck, I wonder why the publisher wouldn't want them shipped back on their own dime so that they can reship them to a store that WILL sell them.
    I am sure there are more business reasons behind it, but that is my understanding.

  5. This is actually why some books have a notice in them in the front pages (I can't remember exactly where, back of the title page maybe) saying that if you obtain the book without the cover it may be stolen. Destruction of books in essentially perfect condition seems like a huge waste of resources and it does seem that there should be a better solution.

  6. When they closed the Walden Books where my family lives, my mom said they just tossed all the leftover books in a dumpster. The news showed people climbing in the dumpster to retrieve them. I couldn't understand why they didn't donate them to a charity or nursing home.

  7. When I think of all the schools that lack books...donation would be a generous way of making good use of unsold books.

  8. There are so many ways those books could be donated, libraries, shelters, and schools. It seems like such a needless waste. Not to mention donations are automatic tax write offs, so in the end it would be beneficial to the closing stores. (Hugs)Indigo

  9. Wow! Is this a stab in the heart or what? I have not heard of this practice either, but I also have come across a book once and a while without a cover. Now I will understand why that is.

  10. This is really disturbing, since there are so many places that would benefit from these books. They could send to some poor schools that are in need of books, or to libraries, or to poor countries where literacy is at a very low number. Instead they have this condescending attitude of getting rid of books because they are closing their stores? How callous, really!!

  11. This boggles my mind. How can they not donate them?? I had never heard this before. I would cry if I saw a dumpster full of books and I would rescue them!

  12. I understand the legality of it. But what bothers me the most is that they claim that they are tearing off the covers to regain compensation from the publishers, but I have yet to see evidence of this. There are tons of pictures on sites that are covering this with perfectly looking books. It is simply a matter of saying one thing and doing another. In addition, they are not even recycling their books, they are simply tossing them into their regular dumpsters. Hopefully with all this media attention something, even it is small, will change.

  13. I don't understand why they can't donate them to charity and then claim that on their taxes. It serves both sides of the coin that way.

    I seems so malicious and selfish to do this.

  14. As a former bookstore employee yes this happens. publishers won't accept paperback book returns so in order for that store to get their money back we had to rip the covers off to show what we were returning.

    Its very sad to have to do that when they could be donated etc but companies don't want to have to loose money.

    WE were able to return all other books and the only ones that had covers removed were paperback books.

  15. I have heard about this back in early 2000 when I was approaching various stores about donations of books and magazines to send to our troops overseas. Most said they were under contract with publishers to tear the covers off and dispose of the unsold books.

    I think it's horrible but I can see the stores point of view. A lot of these stores are struggling to make a profit and stay in business and shipping back all those unsold books would cost a ton not to mention I would think the publishers would end up trashing the excess copies as well.

    I wish more would donate but I can also see that being a logistical nightmare. They would have to figure out which charities would accept which books, how many copies, etc. I would think that would be it's own division. Not to mention a lot of non-profits just couldn't handle large donations so we're talking about trying to donate maybe 30-50 books per organization. I know when I volunteered for a non-profit we could never fit all the donations we received on our shelves so we had to weed through donations to decide which ones to keep. It would take forever and then we had to figure out how to handle the ones we had no room to keep.

    I heard B&N does donate it's books so it would be interesting to see how that whole process works. Maybe it's a business niche just waiting to be explored.


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