Canadian publishers hit by high Indigo returns

<p>Canadian book publishers have express alarm at higher levels of returns than normal this summer from Indigo Books and Music, Canada&#39;s dominant book retailer.</p><p>Toronto-based ECW Press publisher Jack David told <em>The Bookseller</em> that returns skyrocketed between May and July, although he did not make statistics available. Another publisher, told the Canadian book trade magazine <em>Quill &amp; Quire,</em> that the situation was &quot;catastrophic&quot;.<br /><br />Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers (ACP), confirmed that some members had mentioned they were having a hard time with Indigo returns. &quot;I would say it varies between our membership. Some have mentioned it&rsquo;s been a heavy summer, but others are OK,&quot; Wood told <em>The Bookseller</em>. She said the biggest problem publishers faced was the sudden loss of sales.</p><p>&quot;It has quite an effect on cash flow. Sales that have been made are suddenly unmade, often unexpectedly. This is hard, because the summer is when publishers are printing their fall [autumn] books, and printers need to be paid,&quot; she explained.<br />&nbsp;<br />Indigo has not offered an explanation to any of the complaining publishing firms. The retailer did not return calls from <em>The Bookseller</em>. According to Quill &amp; Quire Indigo has assured some publishers that the worst is now over. But ECW&rsquo;s David said: &quot;The worst was over in 2002, and 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. The worst is always over.&quot;</p><p>Indigo didn&rsquo;t explain the returns spike to David either, but he had his own list of reasons. &quot;Occasionally they overbuy, or it could be that they&rsquo;re getting ready for the fall, or it could be that our books are awful and no one wants to buy them. Who am I to speculate? Returns are like the weather. One day you look outside and there&rsquo;s heavy returns, and the next day there&rsquo;s not,&quot; he said. <br />&nbsp;<br />Wood stressed that Indigo would want to reduce returns, just like publishers. &quot;Returns are often a solution for retailers, not usually for publishers, but returns come with their own set of problems and costs as well,&quot; she explained.<br /><br />Indigo reported first quarter results in June, with a 1.6% revenue increase, a C$2.3m net loss and a 9.1% decrease in online sales. An ACP official said that anecdotally, 70% of bookstore sales in Canada were made by Indigo; 60% of total book sales.</p>