Posts Tagged ‘protest’

Facebook group embarrasses Borders (US) into starting “industry-wide dialog” about ending returns

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Hey, did you know that a Facebook group started by some upset Waldenbooks employees may have started the ball rolling to end publishers providing books to bookstores on a returnable basis? This could be HUGE: a paradigm shift in publishing.

The group was started to protest the dumpstering of unsold books as Borders Group begins shutting down its Waldenbooks stores. “Why not donate them to libraries and charities?” they ask.

Over 2,000 people were signing on per day as the word spread virally. Many posted messages that they will boycott Borders if it doesn’t donate the books.

Last week, when Borders execs responded by saying it wasn’t their fault because everyone does it (destroying books, especially mass market books), that didn’t appease the group members who started questioning why there is such a wasteful system in the book industry. The organizers did some research and found my website called where I present an analysis that billions of dollars are wasted every year because of returns – so they began emphasizing ending returns across the industry as a goal. Meanwhile, more consumers are joining the Facebook group and signing online petitions.

On Saturday, the Washington Post highlighted the Facebook group in an article titled “Consumer complaints have companies rethinking how to dispose of unsold inventory,” by Ylan Q. Mui.

Borders execs seem to be squirming under this heat. One of them sent out a mass email (damage control on a Sunday at 11:05 am!) to people who had emailed Borders’ head office with protest notes. Her email says:

Thank you for contacting Borders. We take seriously the many suggestions we
have received regarding product donations.

  1. We have a new relationship with Gifts In Kind International and all unsold items that we cannot return to publishers will be donated to local charities (you can read the news release here: — click on the “Other Borders News” right below the Keyword Search box).
  2. We will have all of our stores recycle product instead of disposing of it.
  3. We have started a dialog within the publishing industry to address industry wide practices – which all book retailers practice, not just Borders – that could possibly be changed with positive impacts on communities and the environment.

Sincerely, Mary Davis, Borders Group

It is part #3 that could be huge. I’m optimistic. How about spreading this news? If more consumers and people within the industry added their weight to the pressure, that might be incredibly helpful. At minimum, indie publishers might want to be included in the “dialog within the industry.”

Thanks for spreading the word,
cheers, Bruce