Pulp fiction

Pulp fact, even. I happened to be in a bookshop the other day with a senior editor from one of the big publishers. I was looking at one of the books on the shelves, which hadn't just got a few handling marks - it was seriously browser-battered. Knowing that bookshops can send books back and get their money refunded, I asked if the publisher even paid them for books that so obviously couldn't be reused. The response was a bit of a surprise to me.

In principle, I was told, the publisher could refuse to refund a book that was in a really bad condition. But in the end, the chances are they would all be pulped, so it didn't matter. Returns weren't usually sent back out.

I suppose I imagined craftspersons in the warehouse, carefully restoring returned books to the piles waiting to go out. Giving them a quick polish with a chamois leather before they lovingly restored them to stock. But, no, it's heave-ho into the mashing machine.

Perhaps it's just me, but this seems an awful waste.


  1. And the same is true of magazines, too - a huge waste of resources.

  2. Though slightly more understandable, as magazines are usually associated with a particular week or month.


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