On a title-by-title basis, publishers may designate books as returnable†. This designation will grant booksellers the right to return unwanted and/or overstocked copies of publishers’ books. These books are considered “returnable”. As books are returned, booksellers charge publishers (or the entity they have a purchasing relationship with—Ingram or Lightning Source for example) for the cost (i.e. their purchase price) 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.
Some booksellers will only purchase books on a returnable basis; therefore, sales may be reduced if a title is designated as non-returnable. Publishers must weigh the risk of returns against the potential for increased sales and be prepared to reimburse booksellers for the cost of returns as they occur. Publishers who make their titles returnable typically place a designated percentage of their proceeds from sales into a fund (or reserve account) that is used exclusively to pay for the cost of future returns.
Publishers can select the return status for a book at the time of title setup. The return status of a title can also be updated at any time. These changes are updated in our system at the end of each week.
No or Non-Returnable- This option is available in all markets.
- Select this option if you do not want to allow your titles to be sold on a returnable basis. Ingram will not accept returns from booksellers for any titles marked as non-returnable.
Yes-Deliver- Available in the U.S. market only.
- Select this option if you want to allow your book to be sold as returnable and you would like the returned book shipped back to you. Ingram does not guarantee the condition of the book being returned. This return option is only available for books sold in the United States or Canada.
- Returns to US addresses - you will be charged only for the current wholesale cost of each book returned at the wholesale price that is active in our system on the date that the return is processed, plus a $3.00 per book shipping and handling charge.
- Returns to non-US/international addresses - you will be charged only for the current wholesale cost of each book returned at the wholesale price that is active in our system on the date that the return is processed, plus a $20.00 per book shipping and handling charge.
Yes-Destroy- Available in all markets EXCEPT Global Connect
- Select yes-destroy if you want to allow your book to be sold as returnable and you do not want to receive a physical copy of the returned book. You will be charged only for the current wholesale cost of each book returned. No shipping and handling fees will apply. Ingram will destroy and pulp any returned books received.
Please Note: All titles are printed non-returnable in UAE.
The cost of a returned book will depend on the type of return status.
- Yes-Deliver - Ingram will charge the publisher for the wholesale cost of returned books at the wholesale price that is active in our system on the date the return is processed, plus a shipping and handling fee per book. $3 for US addresses, $20.00 for non-US addresses
- Yes-Destroy - you will be charged only for the current wholesale cost of each book returned at the wholesale price that is active in our system on the date that the return is processed
Many booksellers will not stock a book that is not returnable. Returns can be very costly and you should be financially prepared for returns. The following is an example of the cost of a returned book, in US dollars:
- Retail/list price $20 – 55% wholesale discount = $9.00 wholesale price - $4.81 estimated print cost for small paperback containing 300 pages leaves $4.19 in publisher compensation paid to the publisher.
- If the book is returned, we charge you back the wholesale price of $9.00 + shipping and handling fee, shown above.
When returns are received and processed by Ingram, the number of units returned will appear as a negative amount on the online Publisher Compensation Report. The wholesale cost of returned books is also listed and the amount is deducted from or netted out against the compensation to be paid to the publisher, for book sales of the returned title. For more information about a report on returns please see here.
Returns are processed through Ingram and the information for the retailer who returned the book(s) is proprietary. We are unable to provide any specific retailer information. To find out when books were returned, you can generate a print sales report through the online Publisher Compensation Payment Report of your Lightning Source account.
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, Ingram 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 Ingram’s payables balance to the publisher to become negative, we reserve the right to send the publisher an invoice for the balance due to Ingram, and the publisher has an obligation to pay Ingram for the amount invoiced.
For “Yes-Deliver” titles, Ingram may choose to hold returns, and not charge the publisher for said returns, until an economical shipping quantity of total returns is received for all of the publisher’s returnable titles.
To change the return status for a title, log in to your Lightning Source account and click on the title to be updated, which takes you to the Title Details Page. Click the blue edit button next to Market Pricing to make the change and be sure to click submit.
Once you save the change, it will reflect on your Lightning Source account but the information will not be sent to retailers immediately. Price changes occur weekly in order to ensure a smooth metadata update with retailers. For more info on this process please see here.
If the terms of a title change from either “Yes-Deliver” or “Yes-Destroy” to “No”, Ingram will provide notice of the change to all retailers; 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 Ingram 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, meaning the books will be destroyed and will not be returned.
If the returns status changes from “No” to “Yes-Deliver” or “Yes-Destroy”, booksellers are able to return books 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.
If a title is transferred from one publisher to another and the same ISBN is used, the return history will also follow that ISBN. The new publisher could receive returns for books that were actually sold by the previous publisher.
If a publisher decides to change the terms of a title from returnable to non-returnable simultaneously with the submission of the title to Ingram/Lightning Source's print-on-demand program, retailers may treat Ingram/Lightning Source as the Vendor of Record. At that point, the retailer can return already existing stock to Ingram for a period of 180 days following submission as a non-returnable title to Lightning Source, and the publisher agrees to reimburse Ingram/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 your Client Services Representative.