If you’ve ever worked in a bookstore, you’re probably intimate with the practice of pulping mass market paperbacks. Publishers reimburse booksellers for inventory they don’t sell, but paperbacks are so cheap to produce that it would cost more to return them than to throw them away. Instead, stores tear off the covers, mail those back as proof of unsold inventory, and throw the books in the trash.
A group of former Waldenbooks employees think it’s a wasteful practice, and they’re asking parent company Borders to find a better way to deal with the books.
Borders has responded, but it hasn’t agreed to stop ripping off the covers.
The practice occurs throughout the year as stores make way for new merchandise, but employees said they were struck by the mass of books headed for the trash heap as nearly 200 Waldenbooks locations shut down.
Borders said many paperbacks could not be donated because the material might not have been appropriate for schools and libraries. But in response to the campaign, it said it would recycle the books rather than throw them away.
Edwards said the chain is in talks with publishers about long-term alternatives to pulping. In addition, the company said this week that it would donate all non-returnable merchandise, such as its private-label gift items, CDs and DVDs, to the nonprofit Gifts in Kind.