Reinvent Your Unsold Inventory
Some publishers repackage and remarket unsold inventory quite successfully. Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., a New York City-based publisher of illustrated nonfiction books and a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, takes advantage of the remainder market by selling its unsold inventory as overstock to different sources, says Marcus Leaver, the book publisher's chief operating officer.
"We rarely strip and rebind because it is no longer economical to do so," he notes. "It is easier to print a new book because the cost of printing has come down," he says, adding the company saves 30 percent printing in the Far East.
"Remarketing," Leaver points out, also "frees up cash. After paying for printing, paper and binding, publishers might as well get something for books that sit in their warehouse."
Sterling markets these titles online, using direct mail, discount bins and through foreign channels.
Firming up a Softcover Return
In an interesting twist, some publishers will turn unsold or returned softcover books into hardcover books, rather than go back on press with a title. Newmarket Press of New York, for example, has converted paperbacks to hardcover books for the library market.
"Sales in the library market, which traditionally demand hardcover books, were stronger than expected [for some titles]," says Esther Margolis, president and publisher of Newmarket Press. "As a result, hardcover stock ran low quickly while [we still had] paperback stock available." Newmarket chose to convert paperbacks from the original printing into hardcovers to keep the supply of hardcovers available to its library customers."
Use Your Right Brain
Sunset's Day says the key to moving unsold inventory is being creative with your marketing.
Sterling's Leaver agrees. "Be creative. Use that intellectual property and repackage it as often as possible until it reaches the end of its useful life."
"For any leftover inventory, publishers must have a program to maximize the sale of a book," Dunn says, noting the program should include policies that pay careful attention to your warehouse inventory and its value. For example, if a novel is turned into a movie and the movie does well, Dunn says a publisher will buy the rights for the images and replace the original softcover with the promotional art for the movie adaptation.