When was the last time you checked out a printed book from the library? My own impression is that gainfully employed adults rather rarely do. (At least for pleasure reading. Research is a different beast.) Maybe they prefer to buy their own books for the sake of convenience, which ready spending money enables them to afford. Or maybe it’s to signal their economic fitness to romantic partners, or to broadcast their social status more generally. But whatever the reason, the fact is that publishers don’t sacrifice many potential sales when they sell printed books to libraries, because library patrons by and large aren’t the sort who purchase copies of books for themselves. The case seems to be different with e-books, though, especially if patrons are able to check them out from home. E-book consumers signal their economic status by reading off of an I-pad XII instead of a Kindle Écru; the particular e-book that they’re reading is invisible to the person on the other side of the subway car, so it might as well be a free one from the library. That means that e-book sales to libraries cannibalize sales to individual consumers.
Caleb Crain, demonstrating his ignorance of reading life outside Manhattan. Most people (outside of graduate school) do not use books to signal anything to each other, because most people do not read books in public. But I’ve said this before.
9 Notes/ Hide
- davebloom said: They also certainly check books out of the library. The ALA reports that public library circulation has gone up over the last 10 years. It’s just higher in suburban areas.
- katherinestasaph said: I’d contest this, definitely saw people reading in public in (a very car-oriented-design part of) NC (i.e. not Chapel Hill) often enough that it barely even registered
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- anythingcouldhappen said: “Or maybe it’s to signal their economic fitness to romantic partners.” Cuz nothing says sugar daddy like a $15 paperback!
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- isabelthespy said: ugh sometimes i just wanna apologize on behalf of new york
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