Jonathan Karp, publisher of Twelve, wrote an op-ed piece that has shown up in several papers around the country and the IBPA newsletter. In the Washington Post, the piece begins,"Many years ago, as a new editorial assistant at a venerable publishing house, I was warned by a senior colleague never to use a certain word when telling authors what would happen to their unsold books. The forbidden word was: mulched."
Mulching, pulping, grinding, scrapping are all commonly used terms when a publisher sells off dead inventory for pennies by the pound to a company that will literally grind them up and recycle them.
Karp goes on to discuss many other realities of the publishing business such as the flood of flash-in-the-pan books, five ways to grow a publishing company, the proliferation of self-publishing, and the need for better R&D in publishing. It really is a good piece and worth the read.