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To Deface or not to Deface Review Copies

This is a guest post by Peter Furtado, historian and publisher

Peter provides real world experience from a post originally on LinkedIn.


As a former magazine editor I used to get a mountain of books across my desk every day, some of them on totally irrelevant subjects. Maybe one percent in total got reviewed in my magazine. What to do the with rest? The options are:
1. Send them back
2. Keep them
3. Give them away (or take them home)
4. Sell them on.
5. Burn them.

Option 1 puts me to time and expense that I couldn’t afford - these are, ultimately, unsolicited trade samples. It can a big enough job for a small publisher to unpack and check all the review copies that arrive, without packing them back up again and posting them back.

Option 2 is impractical: my office has limited space.

Options 3 and 4 both potentially detract from potential genuine sales for the publisher and author in equal measure. From their POV, these are not good options, but from mine they are practical and manageable. So that’s what we did. They meant that, once every couple of months, I could see the other side of my office. And by putting them in circulation, there is always a good chance that these volumes will contribute to a word-of-mouth whispering campaign about how good that book is, which would not be the case with options 1 and 2.

Option 5: not for me.

PS Defacing a book won’t stop people selling it on, or buying it. For breakfast this morning, I have just had bread from my local deli. The bag is clearly marked ‘Not for Resale’. I’ve asked about this, but the retailer can’t explain why, and I can’t buy that bread anywhere else, and it’s the tastiest bread I can buy in Oxford where I live. Frankly, I don’t care about that Not for Resale sticker.


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