What is a "hurt or return" book?
"Hurts or returns" is an expression used to describe those books that are returned to a publisher by a retailer. You see, retailers place orders for a certain quantity of books per particular title. Publishers give retailers a certain period of time to sell those titles and when that period of time elapses, the retailers must return for credit any books in excess of those they want to keep and believe they can sell. Publishers' hurts or returns are the exact same books you'll find selling at full-price in the leading retail chains. They just tend to be an excess stock that's simply being returned to the publisher from the retailer.
"Hurts or returns" are typically in "like new" condition, but may have a light crease in the spine or dog-eared edge. Many of these books have what's called a "remainder mark", which is a small mark appearing on the bottom or side of the book.