|Title:||The Demand for Out-of-Print Works and Their (Un)Availability in Alternative Markets|
|Author(s):||Heald, P. J.|
|Citation:||Heald, P. J. (2014). The Demand for Out-of-Print Works and Their (Un) Availability in Alternative Markets. Illinois Public Law Research Paper, (14-31).|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The NYT sample includes 950 fiction and non-fiction books reviewed in the New York Times Book Review from 1930-2009. The sample consists of the first book reviewed by the NYTBR in the first issue of each month.
The sample of books reviewed generated a list of 292 out-of-print books. All 292 titles were queried on Abebooks and Amazon, and the number of volumes available from each seller was recorded.
Other data for various comparisons were collected through online websites, such as booksinprint.com, amazon.com, iTunes, and YouTube.
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Prior studies demonstrate the shocking unavailability of most books published in the 20th Century, prompting The Atlantic Monthly headline: How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish. The unavailability of new editions of older works would be less problematic, however, if little consumer demand existed for those works. In addition, the lack of new editions would be much less troubling if the works were easily available in alternative forms or markets. Newly collected data provides evidence of the demand for out-of-print books and then charts the availability of out-of-print works in digital form (eBooks and .mp3), in used book stores, and in public libraries. The situation with books remains dismal, although music publishers on iTunes seem to be doing a much better job of digitizing older works and making them available than do book publishers. Some theories for this discrepancy are offered.
Main Results of the Study
- The ease and low cost of digitizing older texts suggests that many out-of-print books might reappear exclusively as eBooks, thereby satisfying latent demand and solving any availability problem. In 2014, 94% of 165 public domain bestsellers from 1913-22 were available in eBook format, up from 48% in 2006.
- Data on the eBook availability of copyrighted bestsellers from the same era tells a different story. Of 167 bestsellers from 1923-32 still under copyright, only 27% (45/167) had been made available as eBooks by 2014. And of those 45 copyrighted eBooks, only one was out-of-print in hard copy format.
- On average out-of-print NYTBR titles from the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1960’s had approximately enough used volumes available to satisfy the needs of a single classroom (around 30 per title). Titles from the 1950’s averaged 74 available volumes, while titles from the 1970’s to 2000’s were 136, 190, 148, and 171 volumes available on average respectively.
- The study also analyzed books available through libraries, but not through digital means, as well as older musical titles missing in the markets for CD’s and digital music downloads.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
- Copyright term extensions have clearly prevented the development of a market for re-printing the massive number of “missing” works from the 20th century. If availability matters, then further attempts to extend the copyright term should be resisted, not encouraged.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Out-of-print books|
|Period of material under study:||1930-2009|