When (and Why) You Need Book Return Insurance

What is Book Return Insurance?

Book Return Insurance is a service offered by Ingram, the largest international book wholesaler. Because Ingram distributes books to some 35,000 different retailers, bookstores, and websites, they are often facilitating high quantity orders.

Physical retailers have limited shelf space; in fact, many publishers pay bookstores—per inch—for the shelf space they occupy. In order to ensure that these shelves are stocked with only the most desired and profitable books, book stores have a fast assessment for a book's success: most will evaluate how well a title is selling within 30 days. If it's not moving fast enough, the retailer will just replace it with something that will.

What do they do with those books that didn't sell? The most desirable for all involved answer is: return them! In order to do this, a book needs to have Book Return Insurance. This enables a book seller to return any unsold copies to Ingram for a refund. Ingram then handles the destruction of the unwanted copies without the author having to get involved. This feature is extremely helpful, and takes away so much of the risk of putting a new book onto the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores that the vast majority of retailers will not even consider picking up a title if it doesn't have Book Return Insurance.

If you want your book to be stocked on shelves, and there is demand for large volumes of your book, Book Return Insurance is a vital investment. It will act as a safety net that protects your retail partner's investment, and allow them to feel confident to carry your title, even if they have a slow month and need to return a few copies. In order to make the most of your Book Return Insurance, you can even use a return as a cue that you need to refresh your marketing strategies to revive interest and demand.

If getting your book into physical stores is not your goal, you will not be in a situation where Book Return Insurance can assist your pitch. Remember, it is used by retailers to return books to Ingram. If your book is sold on consignment, Ingram plays no role in your bookstore sales. If your book is purchased directly from a website by a reader, they likewise will not be returning their copy to Ingram.

So, consider your goals: do you have a solid marketing plan in place? Are you building enough hype to move large quantities of books from the get-go? Would you like to see your book on store shelves? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, it's time to budget for Book Return Insurance so that your book can be bookstore ready.

Written by Astra Crompton, FriesenPress Author Account Manager
Edited by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editorial and Illustrations Coordinator
Image c/o Shutterstock