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In order to clear its warehouse, a publisher will often offer the unsold (remainder) portion of a printing at a discount. Such books are usually marked on the page edges so that they cannot be returned for a full-price refund. As with most changes made to a book after the initial printing, a remainder mark reduces the value of a book to less than the same edition would bring unmarked. Individual collectors differ in how distasteful they find a remainder mark to be, but the mark and its location should always be noted in a book description.
Some examples of remainder marks are shown below.
Remainder marks are generally simple; they often look like random dots or streaks from a black or colored magic marker. Remainder marks vary from the discreet, to the flamboyant, to the apparently accidental.
Sometimes symbols are used.
Ace Fantasy uses a capital "B" on one edge.
A remainder mark no longer in use that might be found on older books is purple dye sprayed over the entire top or bottom edge of the book, giving a speckled effect. At one time, this was used by Doubleday, Delacort, and possibly other publishers. Both of the books shown at left are Doubledays, from the 1980s.
A remainder mark on the top of the book, however discreet, is worse than one on the bottom, because it can be seen when the book is shelved.
Also see Miscellaneous Edge Stamps.