Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Line-by-line Book Publishing

Anna Louise has detailed, line by line and dollar for dollar, how a new fiction paperback gets to market. The cost breakdown is amazing and well worth the read, just to see how absurd the publishing industry is. But get this:

Mass market paperbacks that don't sell used to get stripped and pulped -- their covers torn off and the insides made into goo. Usually, by the time this happens, the bookseller has already paid for the book. So the bookseller returns an affadavit (formerly known as "the book's cover") to the publisher's warehouse, and receives a credit, good for use on any other books, instead of paying with cash, and the book is counted as a "return" -- even though it doesn't get returned and it can't be shipped out again. This doesn't happen to hardcovers.
What got us about this is the image of a truckload of book covers arriving back at the publisher's warehouse for credit. The industry doesn't do this kind of brutish recylcing any more, but we miss the old days just a little just for that. We also wonder if there was a time when Barbie dolls that didn't sell were torn apart, their bodies recylced and their heads sent back to the factory for the refund.

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