Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Future of Used Books

The BISG held their annual meeting today in New York. The Book Industry Study Group has been gathering and analyzing data on the book industry, sales and trends for thirty years.

According to Publishers Marketplace, the big event today was discussion of the upcoming Used Book Study, which will be released next month.

Not surprising to me or to the readers of my 9/17 blog ("Where Have All the Flowers Gone"), one of the results of the study cited by Publishers Marketplace was that "increasingly sophisticated consumers [are] starting to factor used book availability into their new book purchasing decisions." Readers no longer have to wait months for the paperback to be released when they can easily located a used hardback online shortly after the hardback release.

To my way of thinking, paperbacks are being squeezed from two directions. First, the used book market for hardbacks hurts the sale of new paperbacks of the same release. And, second, as interest in electronic books (both audio and written) grows, it may become more cost effective for publishers to move away from paperback books and toward e-books. Will we begin to see smaller print runs of paperbacks?

I'm looking forward to hearing the results of the entire Used Book Study next month.

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