Copyright + book = disappearing act?

Many of us worry that the last three decades of scholarship will be lost to posterity because we have yet to provide an institutionalized set of mechanisms for preserving the digital output of academia that are as durable and accessible as our accreted analog/paper-based records. Now here comes word of an equally worrisome trend, the empirical evidence that worries about the effect of copyright on the access to important cultural, literary and scientific works, may be well-founded. A recent article in the Atlantic Monthly describes a yawning gulf in the sale of new books from recent decades such that there are more new books sold by Amazon from 1850, than there are from 1950. In their analyses, the investigators provide intriguing circumstantial evidence suggesting that the copyright laws may be responsible. More detail in this lecture by Paul Heald.

Hat tip: David Osterbur

Amazon copyright hole

1 comment:

Andy Zimolzak said...

This graph looks exactly what's on my Kindle. Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Henry James, D.H. Lawrence, all for free. I've downloaded lots on a whim and doubt I'll read all of them. Then we skip from 1923 straight to 21st century non-free books.

A recent blog post I read makes a good argument that eBooks should be cheaper and better than present state, to compensate for tradeoffs, including copyright.