Uneven pages/binding on discounted books?

I buy a LOT of books discounted or closeouts. (Barnes & Noble and Borders have entire sections of these)

Many of them, particularly books that were former bestsellers, have uneven pages along one side (looking at the book it would be “east” side)

I noticed that few, if any, non former best sellers have this.


I’d guess that such former bestsellers are being sold at a discount because they are flawed in this manner. Bestsellers have many more copies printed, with a proportionally greater number of defectives coming off the line. The publishers want to sell these, but people don’t want to pay full price for defective books, so they discount them. By contrast, non-bestsellers don’t have that many copies printed, so there aren’t as many defectives–which are probably few enough in number that the publisher can afford to destroy them anyway. I mean, if the good copies don’t sell well, how well could the defective ones do?

I don’t know why they do this, but it drives me freaking nuts. I refuse to buy a book with pages like that - I’ll just wait for the paperback, thank you very much.

Maybe I’m obsessive-compulsive or something, but every time I see a book like that I wish I had a giant paper cutter so I could even out the messy mass of paper hanging out the side.

QED, I don’t think that’s it. It seems that some books are deliberately published this way - I know when Michael Crichton’s “Airframe” came out, all the hardcover copies had messy edges.

If it’s been deliberately done, then it’s the publishers wanting to offload excess stock to remainder suppliers, but wanting them to be in an imperfect state to prevent uncrupulous suppliers then trying to sell the books at full price.

They’re called deckle edges, and according to this site they’re intentionally there because they were once fashionable:

A fair number of my hardcover books at home have deckle edges. It may be an affectation, but I kind of like it - it makes the book seem a little more intimate and less mass-produced.

If you buy hardcover books from book clubs, like the Science Fiction Book Club in my experience, the unbound edges are like this as well.

I expect that this is done to minimize the production costs of the books so that they can be sold at at discount.

It’s annoying, but not that big a problem for novels and such, where you read the book in a linear fashion. But it is a real inconvenience for reference books, textbooks, biographies, and the like, where you consult an index in order to find an entry.