“Strippable” simply means that a book’s cover can be torn off, or stripped off, by the book retailer or distributor, and then sent back to the book publisher for a credit or refund. The publisher tells the book retailers and distributors which books that it will allow to be stripped, and which books cannot be stripped. Each publisher has it’s own rules and guidelines about which books can be stripped. By stripping off the cover of a book, and sending the cover back to the publisher, without the body of the book, postage costs will be reduced for the publisher. Obviously, it is much less costly to send back a bunch of book covers than it is to send back a box of full books. After the cover is stripped off the book, the rest of the remaining book is supposed to be destroyed.
“Non-strippable” books are just the opposite of “strippable”. “Non-strippable” means that a book cannot be returned to the publisher for a credit or refund unless the book is complete, with the cover intact.
Who Is Involved With Stripping Books?
Stripping books is not something that the self-publisher probably will never need to be involved with. Strippable and non-strippable books are something that the large publishers, book distributors, and retail bookstores are involved with. The large publishers are forced by the retailers and distributors to accept returns. Retailers feel that it is too risky for them to put a book in their stores without having the option of sending the book back for a credit or refund. Distributors feel that it is too risky for them to receive many thousands of copies of a book from a publisher without having the option of sending the books back for a credit or refund. The large publishers accept returns because they are dependent on the book retailers and distributors for their financial survival. As a small self-publisher, we generally do not want our books in bookstores. Once you get involved with self-publishing, you will learn very quickly that bookstores are the worst place to display and sell your books – and doing so can very quickly bankrupt your little publishing company.
The Triangle With An “S” and Without An “S”
Spend some time in a big bookstore and you will notice that some of the books have a small triangle next to the EAN barcode on the back cover. Some triangles will have the letter “S” inside it, and some will be empty. The “S” designates that that book is strippable. A triangle without an “S” means that the book is not strippable. You will generally see a triangle with an “S” on mass-market paperbacks. These are generally the smaller less expensive books. You will generally see the empty triangle on the trade paperbacks and hard-cover books, which are the more expensive books. The publishers use this triangle symbol as a means to make it visually easier for the retailers and distributors to avoid making the mistake of stripping a book that should not be stripped. On your self-published books you will typically not need to put this triangle symbol on your books.
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