2022-10-07 09:52:09
Offline Book “Lending” Costs U.S. Publishers Nearly $1 Trillion books/market data

Go To Hellman

Hot on the heels of the story in Publisher’s Weekly
that “publishers could be losing out on as much $3 billion to online
book piracy” comes a sudden realization of a much larger threat to the
viability of the book industry. Apparently, over 2 billion books were “loaned”
last year by a cabal of organizations found in nearly every American
city and town. Using the same advanced projective mathematics used in the study cited by Publishers Weekly, Go To Hellman
has computed that publishers could be losing sales opportunities
totaling over $100 Billion per year, losses which extend back to at
least the year 2000. These lost sales dwarf the online piracy reported
yesterday, and indeed, even the global book publishing business itself.

From
what we’ve been able to piece together, the book “lending” takes place
in “libraries”. On entering one of these dens, patrons may view a
dazzling array of books, periodicals, even CDs and DVDs, all available
to anyone willing to disclose valuable personal information in exchange
for a “card”. But there is an ominous silence pervading these ersatz
sanctuaries, enforced by the stern demeanor of staff and the glares of
other patrons. Although there’s no admission charge and it doesn’t cost
anything to borrow a book, there’s always the threat of an onerous
overdue bill for the hapless borrower who forgets to continue the cycle
of not paying for copyrighted material.

To get to the bottom of this story, Go To Hellman
has dispatched its Senior Piracy Analyst (me) to Boston, where a mass
meeting of alleged book traffickers is to take place. Over 10,000 are
expected at the “ALA Midwinter
event. Even at the Amtrak station in New York City this morning, at the
very the heart of the US publishing industry, book trafficking culture
was evident, with many travelers brazenly displaying the totebags used
to transport printed contraband.

As soon as I got off the train,
I was surrounded by even more of this crowd. Calling themselves
“Librarians”, they talk about promoting literacy, education, culture
and economic development, which are, of course, code words for the use
and dispersal of intellectual property. They readily admit to their
activities, and rationalize them because they’re perfectly legal in the
US, at least for now.

Typical was Susanne from DC, who told me
that she’s been involved in lending operations for over 15 years. This
confirms our estimate that “lending” has been going on for over ten
years, beyond even Google’s memory. Our trillion dollar estimate may
thus be on the conservative side. Of course, it’s impossible to tell
how many of these lent books would have been purchased legally if
“libraries” were not an option, but we’re not even considering the huge
potential losses to publishers when “used” books are resold for pennies
on the black markets.

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