Book publishers face many of the same challenges in balancing supply and demand as any business owner. When estimating demand, both past sales and future sales projections determine the size of a print run. When a publisher gets it wrong and prints more books than readers are willing to buy, the result is excess inventory, more commonly referred to as publisher’s overstock.
Overstocks are the top rung in the discount book market. Although some people refer to overstocks as remainder titles, Ben Archer, a wholesale bargain bookseller, says on his blog that these terms actually refer to two different things. Most overstocks are books printed but never shipped. Instead of storing or destroying excess inventory, publishers reduce the price to about 15 percent to 25 percent of the list price and attempt to sell the books to wholesale and retail businesses at industry trade shows such as the annual Chicago International Remainder and Overstock Book Exposition.
Overstock books that don’t sell at trade shows and books that retailers return then become remainder titles that publishers then sell to bargain book wholesalers. According to Archer, discounts for remainders typically run about 10 percent to 15 percent of the original list price. Book publishers typically mark the page edges of reminders with a random streak, dot or a symbol to guard against full-price refund claims.