Historically, publishers grant booksellers the right to return unwanted and/or overstocked copies of books. These books are considered “returnable”. As books are returned, booksellers charge publishers for the cost of any books returned and expect to be reimbursed. The cost of returned books is either deducted or netted against the proceeds of book sales of the publishers’ titles in the month returns are shipped to the publisher.
Typically, brick and mortar stores will not order a book unless it is returnable. Lightning Source supports standard industry conventions by allowing publishers to designate whether or not their titles can be returned.
Publishers are offered three returns options, listed below.
- No or Non-Returnable
Lightning Source will not accept returns from booksellers for any title designated as “No” (non-returnable), and the publisher will not receive any return charges.
Choosing “Yes-Deliver” allows titles to be sold on a returnable basis, and the publisher will receive a physical copy of the book returned.
*Please note that Lightning Source does not guarantee the condition of the book being returned.
Shipping Costs for Returned Books
Returns for US Addresses: Publishers will be charged for the current wholesale cost of each book returned, plus a $2.00 per book shipping and handling charge.
Returns to non-US/international addresses: Publishers will be charged for the current wholesale cost of each book returned, plus a $20.00 per book shipping and handling charge.
This option allows titles to be sold on a returnable basis, and the publisher will not receive a physical copy of the book upon its return. The publisher will be charged only for the current wholesale cost of each book returned. No shipping and handling fees will apply as Lightning Source will destroy any returned books if this option is selected.
How much is a publisher charged for returns?
Lightning Source will charge the publisher for the wholesale cost of returns at the wholesale price that is active in our system on the date that the return is processed, plus any applicable shipping and handling fees ($2.00 per book for US addresses, $20.00 per book for non-US/international addresses).
When is the publisher charged for returns?
Returns will be deducted from the publisher’s compensation for sales in the month that the returns are received from the retailer (in the case of “Yes-Destroy” titles) or the month that the return is shipped to the publisher (in the case of “Yes-Deliver” titles).
At the end of each fiscal month, Lightning Source will post the net amount earned by the publisher (publisher compensation earned less the cost of returns) in that month to our accounts payable system. Said net amount earned will be paid in accordance with the payment terms contained in our print on demand agreement.
If returns received in a given month exceed sales by an amount that causes Lightning Source’s payables balance to the publisher to become negative, we reserve the right to send the publisher an invoice for the balance due to Lightning Source, and the publisher has an obligation to pay Lightning Source for the amount invoiced.
For “Yes-Deliver” titles, Lightning Source or Ingram may choose to hold returns, and not charge the publisher for said returns, until an economical shipping quantity of total returns are received for all of the publisher’s returnable titles.
Changing Your Returns Status
If you decide that you would like to change the status of returns for your title, you may do so by logging into your Lightning Source account and clicking the blue edit button next to Market Pricing.
Once you save the change, it will reflect on your Lightning Source account but the information will not be sent to distributors immediately. Changing your returns status is considered a price change, and price changes only occur once per month in order to ensure a smooth metadata update with our distribution partners.
Please continue reading below for more information regarding returns status changes, as different changes affect titles in different ways.
*If the terms of a title change from either “Yes-Deliver” or “Yes-Destroy” to “No”, Lightning Source will provide notice of the change to all distribution partners; however, booksellers will continue to have the right to return books for a period of 180 days from the date notice is provided to the booksellers, and the publisher will continue to have the obligation to reimburse Lightning Source for the wholesale cost of the books being returned, plus any applicable shipping and handling charges.
**When the status is changed from “Yes-Deliver” to “No” please be aware that any books returned during the 180 day period will be handled pursuant to the “Yes-Destroy” designation.
If the returns status changes from “No” to “Yes-Deliver” or “Yes-Destroy”, booksellers are able to return titles immediately from the date notice is provided to the bookseller. The publisher should be aware that booksellers may return unwanted or overstocked books from the effective date of the change, regardless of when the books were originally purchased. Therefore, publishers should be prepared for the consequences of changing historically non-returnable books into returnable books.
Vendor of Record
If a publisher decides to change the terms of a title from returnable to non-returnable simultaneously with submission of the title to Lightning Source’s print on demand program, retailers may treat Lightning Source as the Vendor of Record. At that point, the retailer can return already existing stock to Lightning Source for a period of 180 days following submission as a non-returnable title to Lightning Source, and the publisher agrees to reimburse Lightning Source for the cost of said returns in accordance with this returns policy.
Returns can affect publishers in both positive and negative ways, making it important for publishers to understand the nature of returns in the book world. If you have any questions, please contact Lightning Source customer support.
How do I know who returned my books?
We are unable to provide any specific retailer information. Returns are processed through the distributor, Ingram Book Company, and any retailer information is proprietary. You can run a print sales report to see when books were returned.