A snarkling writes:
An independent bookstore buying from the Ingram Book Group can only return 10% of their overall purchase history. That's not a lot of returns for a small bookstore. And so, while an independent can purchase what they want and display it anywhere they please (unlike a big box) we still have to take care of the quantity we buy and can't take great advantage of "taking a loss" like a big box and buy huge stock only to return huge stock.
Indie bookstores account for about 17% of general consumer book sales. WalMart and the box stores count for 50% or more.
Not too long ago a Barnes and Noble in the town of Miss Snark's alma mater decided to move to a new space across the parking lot. It was a sum total of 478 yards. Miss Snark, laughingly, asked the Community Relations manager if they would be seeking volunteers to wheel the books across the lot.
"oh no," she heard, "we'll just return all these and get new ones sent to the new store.
That way the store never closes and our patrons aren't inconvenienced."
After Miss Snark revived, she realized that any business model that made it cost effective to return every piece of merchandise in the store rather than trundle it 478 yards (and this wasn't in the snow or 100 degree heat either) was seriously out of whack.
If the big box stores ran on the same return requirements that the indies do, it might be a darn sight better.
One third of the cost of a hard cover book is the cost of returns.
I'd love to be paying less for my next copies of Alan Furst, Dan Fesperman, Jennifer Weiner and Harlen Coben...particularly since it would not mean the authors got less.