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Friday, August 24, 2007

Barnes & Noble Apologizes

The Dallas television station that broke the story about a Barnes & Noble bookstore there that deliberately destroyed approximately 800 perfectly good books rather than donating them to local charities reports today that Barnes & Noble management has apologized for the action.
"They were clearly wrong," said Barnes & Noble Regional Director Stephanie Horblit. "I am here to apologize and to assure the community it will not happen again in Dallas."

The apology came less than a day after the investigative story ran on CBS 11.

She called the dumping of books inexcusable.

"Our policy on clearance books, that have been marked down continuously, is to try to donate as many we possibly can," Horblit said. "This store clearly was in error, and I would like to apologize to the community."
...
"That is not our policy," said Horblit. "That again is a store error that we are dealing with, and it will not happen again."

These books could have easily been donated to local schools, churches and hospitals. In fact, Barnes & Noble has a donation program with a long list of such organizations.

The company originally said the books were "not donateable." But now Barnes & Noble admits the nearly 800 books could have been donated.

The company says for now on, it will make every effort to assure that all "donateable" books reach the people who need it most.
This kind of damage control would not have been necessary if publishers and bookstores did not have the wasteful policy of destroying books this way when they prove to be unsellable even on bargain tables. Rather than filling already stressed landfills around the country with more paper, these books should be returned to the publishers for recycling or given to local recyclers for processing. Yes, I know that it is expensive to return that much paper to each publisher. But that is still preferable to publishers agreeing to let bookstores bury their mistakes in landfills that are already so full that they are stressing the environment.

The choice made by this particular Dallas bookstore manager makes me wonder just how serious Barnes & Noble is about making sure that discarded books really make their way to local charities. This manager was either too lazy to follow company policy or he knew that his management was not all that concerned that he do so. The stated policy is a good one and I hope that this is just a case of one lazy store manager taking the easy way out rather than following the company plan.
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