The long-slow decline at UPB/Berkeley has been driven, in large measure, by the decline of our ability to finance a deep inventory of the wonderful-but-often-slow-selling books published by university presses. Some 10,000 individual titles from the most important presses have been removed over the last decade in the ebb and flow of fewer new books ordered, many often sold but not reordered, and many sadly returned for credit.
At current prices, it would cost us some $200,000 to sustain the level of inventory we gloriously had near the fin-de-siècle, and we just don’t have that kind of money. The publishers don’t help by requiring payment in 30 to 90 days. So, to pay our bills we return for credit books that don’t sell fast enough, a dismal lose-lose-lose-lose action for us, the publisher, the authors, and our customers.
Here’s a picture of Karen McClung, our bill-payer and return-for-credit expert with eight boxes containing 168 books being returned to the TriLiteral Presses Harvard, Yale, and MIT:
And here’s a detail of the beautiful words on the wall behind her:
World-losers and movers and shakers. Each of those 168 books wanted to be a mover and shaker, but each has had, as a world-loser, a little death at UPB this week.