September 28, 2007
Professional Reading: Book Industry and Book Circulation Trends
The September issue of First Monday includes Terje Hillesund's Reading Books in the Digital Age Subsequent to Amazon, Google and the Long Tail. Here's the abstract:
Presenting a wide range of literature, this article explores the state of art in book research, paying particular attention to John B. Thompson’s interpretation of digital transformations within the book industry, as depicted in Books in the Digital Age (2005). Claiming that Thompson’s analyses are one–sided, the article applies alternative perspectives and a model of a text cycle, contending that the diminishing role of paper in text production and text distribution makes the dominant position of printed books particularly vulnerable to advances in digital reading technologies.
See also the FCC's Douglas A. Galbi's study of US public library book circulation trends in SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Library book circulation per user has no strong, long-run trend. From 1856 to 1978, library users borrowed from U.S. public libraries about 15 books per user per year. From 1978 to 2004, book circulation per user declined approximately 50%. The growth of audiovisuals circulation, estimated at 25% of total circulation in 2004, accounts for about half of this decline. These figures depend on estimates and disparate samples of libraries with varying circulation and user accounting methods. Nonetheless, these figures are of sufficient quality to suggest that historically established institutions significantly stabilize borrowing behavior.
Strange but True: Any chance book reading will increase when people hear that scientists at Baltimore’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Neurology claim that the act of reading the written word results in less mental impairment from exposure to potentially toxic lead? [JH]
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