Return rant

Doug Seibold has a really passionate article at the Book Standard about the age old practice of returns. Returns let a bookstore feel comfortable ordering large quantities of new titles without fear of being stuck with them. But it hurts the smaller publishers, who have to give discounts of 40% or more to even compete with the larger conglomerates in the first place.
He has some good points, but obviously as a indpendent bookseller, I have problems with the idea of eliminating returns entirely. “As for independent bookstores, their competitive advantage is, and will remain, their ability to find and promote the books their customers are most interested in reading.” Okay, I agree with this statement. We here at Harvard Book Store try to really promote good, solid books, not the latest hyped nonsense. “So perhaps they would be able to take the staff hours they now devote to packing and unpacking boxes of unwanted titles and convert them to more hours spent discovering good books worth hand-selling to customers.” Uhm, what do you mean here? Do you think we actually have time to read at work or something? Handselling is important, but not that many customers want that anymore. Our staff is busy from the time they start their shifts, shelving books, running the registers, answering questions at the info desk. So not unpacking boxes won’t exaclty help you, the small publisher out. At least not here.
I realize I am ranting a bit. And I have no solutions to the many problems of the publishing. Obviously the bookstores need the publishers and vice versa.