Home Taping Will Kill The Music Industry

October 5th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Remember the olden days when record labels (that’s what they were called back then — records) put the fear of Elvis in us by saying that home taping would bring about the end of the world as we know it? After a week of of considering the results of Book Industry Study Group’s survey, they’re wondering if used book sales are the home taping of publishing.

And yes, by that, we mean there probably isn’t really a monster under the bed. Yet. Used media sales are going to continue to rise because technology makes it easier to find the product you want for the price you want to pay. Technology also allows you to find items you probably wouldn’t have found, easily, ten years ago. Price is a factor for consumers (probably we learned in econ though we would swear we slept through that semester), and we don’t know if there’s a lot of wiggle room in new book prices. Oh sure, we suspect there is — our natural skepticism tells us the retail prices we see reflect healthy mark-ups.

We do think, however, that this isn’t the real problem, though the solution is ridiculously easy:

The industry, indirectly, may even contribute to the problem: Author signings for upcoming releases are a tradition at BookExpo America, publishing’s annual convention. But they also lead to a wave of offerings on eBay, publishers say.

“I have made it clear that I do not like the signings at BookExpo,” says Jane Friedman, CEO of HarperCollins. “The author should at least make the signature personal, `Dear Jane,’ so it’s worth less to sell.”

We are going to keep saying that now is the time to address the issue by rethinking the financial model — and any solution will necessarily face the fact that used book sales will continue to chip away at new book sales. Our solution — a small fee on used book sales that will be shared among the seller, author, and publisher — raises the ire of those who feel they own the book and can do whatever they want with it. And we are not disputing their right. But there is a massive difference between giving a book to a friend and cannibalizing a new release’s sales.

File Under: Square Pegs