There are several settings I've run across, and a web search turned out why you want an ISBN from Bowker rather than one owned by someone else, and you probably want 10 ISBN's at US$295 rather than 1 ISBN at $125. I'm not particularly interested in repeating that discussion.

I do notice on the shipping cost calculator that there is a configurable "wholesale discount", and I believe I've heard that there is an option to have unsold books returned which is a bit of a deal-breaker outside of Amazon. I recall hearing one quote crossing the threshold of "Amazon will do business with you," and another, lower threshold of "regular bookstores will feel comfortable doing business with you, if for some reason they want to do so."

What is an optimal setting for a 1200 page book, 8 1/2 x 11", around $50 list price, so that ideally Amazon and small bookstores will feel comfortable dealing with it?

1 Answer 1


Here's what I've learned over the past three years. It doesn't have to do with the size or length of your book, but rather with industry norms.

For large chains to consider stocking you book, i.e. putting any copies on the shelf, your book needs to be at the 55% discount and returnable. This is "not negotiable."

Smaller bookstores seek a 45% discount and most want returnable, but it doesn't have to be. It's just strongly preferred.

Returnable is absolutely all kind of terrible for us on the author side, however there is no option as the book industry seemed to have optimized on this some time ago. Another thing that gets me is being responsible for shipping the books to them, and then in the case of returns, being responsible for shipping the books back (or having them destroyed).

Now an interesting thing is that if the books aren't offering a 55% discount and are not returnable, almost everywhere will list the book on their websites and will order one when someone orders off their website. This can be sufficient, depending on what you are looking for.

I hope this helps.

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