As the ones carrying out the actual destruction of books in most cases, retailers have a responsibility as well as publishers to end this wasteful practice. And it's big chains like Borders who are the primary culprits – independent bookstores order smarter, and return far fewer books. From a reader comment on last month's HuffPo story on this campaign:
"Retail chains are just as responsible for this distribution system.
The returnable distribution policy was devised by publishers to HELP bookstores stay in business decades ago. And it did help. What no one foresaw were these massive chains coming along. At first it appeared to be a good thing to publishers--more stores meant more books.
But then the CHAINS put pressure on the publishers to give bigger and bigger discounts--all returnable. The chains do not have to take any risk in over-ordering---they can return their screw ups. If a publisher refuses to sell books nonreturnable, the chains simply won't take them without even bigger discounts (and smaller orders), which publishers literally cannot afford."