Want to Know How the Sale of Used Books Affects the Publishing Industry? It Will Cost You $695 to Find Out

I recently stumbled across the website for the Book Industry Study Group, which describes itself as “the industry’s leading trade association for policy, standards and research.” Its membership is made of up “publishers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, librarians and others engaged in the business of print and electronic media.”

The site’s front page features a recent publication, Used Book Sales, which is described as “The first comprehensive study of the behavior, structure, size, and growth of the used-book market.”

That sounds interesting, doesn’t it? We’ve touched on related subjects here and here; Judy Chevalier and Austan Goolsbee wrote a paper about the market for used textbooks. Even closer to home, as far as the trade publishing industry is concerned, is this paper by Anindya Ghose, Michael Smith, and Rahul Telang, which argues that — despite the publishers’ fears — the sale of used books does not cannibalize new book sales, and in fact a robust used market may help the new book market since a book, once read, retains more of its value.

So I was pretty eager to see how this research squared with the findings of the Book Industry Study Group. There’s only one problem: Used Book Sales carries a non-member price tag of $695. (It’s only $100 for members of the B.I.S.G.; talk about price discrimination!)

So I’m left with three viable choices:

1. Join the B.I.S.G. (It costs $550 a year for an individual.)
2. Pony up the $695.
3. Wait for a used copy to turn up on eBay.

I think all of these choices are pretty unlikely. But, given the subject matter, I guess the most fitting option would be No. 3 by a long shot.


Imsdal

I see a fourth viable choice: ask a huge group of people if anyone of them knows how to get hold of the book. If only there was a way to reach out to such a large group of people in an easy way.

Hey, wait a minute...

ftelegdy

I'm surprised you didn't point out the obvious related to options one and two:

Option 1: $550 + $100 = $650
Result: 1-year membership and the book

Option 2: $695
Result: the book

So, it's cheaper to buy a 1-year membership and the book than it is to just buy the book. It begs the question of why anyone would buy just the book.

andrew

4th choice: search for a summary of the report. There's one at idealog.com.

thewanderer

I wonder if the information that the book contains is that valuable?Or is it just the price of curiosity?

fredamerican

Why are you upset with the pricing that this organization chose? Are you feeling that the utility derived would be less than the utility derived on spending the amount elsewhere? If yes, then you should be happy because it's not a good economic decision. If this organization sees its membership decline obviously the price of their product would be one of the things that they look at. I guess I don't like the price of new Maseratis either.

GamblingEconomist

Why does it seem strange that industry research would be expensive? How are those in the industry supposed to make their decisions without market research? Peer reviewed economics publications don't always fit the bill.

I hope that nobody sells it on ebay because the report is likely licensed to the purchaser for his/her own use and is not meant to be duplicated and/or resold.

Taed

Maybe someone is selling a used version of the report somewhere? :-)

synaesthesia

You could also go to the New York Public Library or local public university. They might have it, or could get it through ILL (interlibrary loan). You know that thing called the library? (Excuse me. I'm not trying to be snarky on purpose, but I think it's a little funny... it's like Netflix for books that you drive to.) Does anyone go to the library anymore?

Imsdal

I see a fourth viable choice: ask a huge group of people if anyone of them knows how to get hold of the book. If only there was a way to reach out to such a large group of people in an easy way.

Hey, wait a minute...

ftelegdy

I'm surprised you didn't point out the obvious related to options one and two:

Option 1: $550 + $100 = $650
Result: 1-year membership and the book

Option 2: $695
Result: the book

So, it's cheaper to buy a 1-year membership and the book than it is to just buy the book. It begs the question of why anyone would buy just the book.

andrew

4th choice: search for a summary of the report. There's one at idealog.com.

thewanderer

I wonder if the information that the book contains is that valuable?Or is it just the price of curiosity?

fredamerican

Why are you upset with the pricing that this organization chose? Are you feeling that the utility derived would be less than the utility derived on spending the amount elsewhere? If yes, then you should be happy because it's not a good economic decision. If this organization sees its membership decline obviously the price of their product would be one of the things that they look at. I guess I don't like the price of new Maseratis either.

GamblingEconomist

Why does it seem strange that industry research would be expensive? How are those in the industry supposed to make their decisions without market research? Peer reviewed economics publications don't always fit the bill.

I hope that nobody sells it on ebay because the report is likely licensed to the purchaser for his/her own use and is not meant to be duplicated and/or resold.

Taed

Maybe someone is selling a used version of the report somewhere? :-)

synaesthesia

You could also go to the New York Public Library or local public university. They might have it, or could get it through ILL (interlibrary loan). You know that thing called the library? (Excuse me. I'm not trying to be snarky on purpose, but I think it's a little funny... it's like Netflix for books that you drive to.) Does anyone go to the library anymore?