HarperCollins pulls out of first stage of returns initiative

HarperCollins has pulled out of the first stage of the book industry returns initiative days before the scheme begins testing. The publisher and distributor cited "other business priorities" rather than lack of confidence in the initiative.</p><p>
Peter Kilborn of Book Industry Communication described HC's move as disappointing. "It comes at a moment when we're making real progress," he said.</p><p>
The publisher and distributor had been set to join Macmillan and Penguin, which will trial the scheme with large retailers and wholesalers within the next week. A spokesman for HC said: "In addition to the project running well behind its original schedule, we are now focusing on other areas of our business and are no longer able to devote the resources to the project which would be necessary to remain one of the early implementers."</p><p>
HC said it was committed to joining the scheme once it was running, and would still be represented on the industry steering group. It will re-examine its position in early 2003.</p>